Ahmad Al Harthy‘s British GT Championship hopes disappeared with early race contact in Donington Park’s season finale.
The 32-year-old Omani went in to the final round with a realistic hope of lifting the trophy with team-mate Michael Caine in only his first year in endurance racing. Just twenty minutes in to the race, however, Al Harthy was forced into a spin at the Melbourne Hairpin, dropping him down the order and no way back into the title fight.
Despite the disappointment, the duo rallied together and fought back through the field to finish in twelfth, completing a season which saw two victories and points finishes in all but the final race in their Porsche 997 GT3R.
“We ended the race in a strong position, we moved up from where we qualified and, as ever, the team did a fantastic job”, offered Al Harthy. “There was absolutely no blame on us when we were hit in my stint and that put us a long way down in terms of positions and the gap to the lead cars. I did my best to bring it back, I did bring the gap down, and I was happy with my performance. Looking back over the season as a whole, it’s been great for Oman Air Motorbase. We’ve had two wins, lots of points finishes and even though we had the weight penalty in the car all year we still managed to arrive at Donington with a chance of the title. The guy who hit us did get penalised, so justice was done there, but it didn’t help us.”
The duo began the race from 18th on the grid with Al Harthy in the driving seat, moving up to 15th before the field was slowed down under a safety car period. One lap after green flag racing resumed, the Porsche was caught up in a tangle between a Mercedes SLS AMG and a BMW Z4, dropping down outside the top 20.
Michael Caine took over driving duties at the end of lap 37, rejoining in 14th position, and made it back up to 12th by the time of the chequered flag.
“We battled hard all year and I’m very happy with how my first season in endurance racing has gone”, concluded Al Harthy. “We had incredible support throughout and this weekend a lot of Omani students from all over the UK – from Cardiff, from Norwich, from Leicester – all came to support us which was great. I’m really grateful to them and to my amazing sponsors for a great season.”