After winning two races during the 2013 season Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine will return to the Avon Tyres British GT Championship this season, sharing one of two Motorbase Performance run Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
The team’s pair of cars will run under the Oman Racing Team banner, carrying the turquoise and white livery of Omani driver Al Harthy’s backers.
Carrying the #1 plate on their Porsche following the team’s championship winning season in their first year in the British GT Championship Al Harthy and Caine won at Snetterton and Zandvoort last season, Caine holding off a swarming pack for victory in Holland in one of the best races of the season.
“I feel very honoured to be back with Motorbase for another year,” said Caine, who was part of 2012’s title winning line-up. “Every year I expect it to be my last and I just feel very lucky to be back in the British GT and with the Motorbase family for this new venture. The Aston Martin is shaping up to be a really great car and I feel sure that the Oman Racing Team will be a force to be reckoned with this season as we take on the factory Aston Martin.”
“Last year was a learning year for Ahmad and this year we need to win the championship. It will be hard going though, the grid is even stronger than 2013 and the competition is tough.”
The second Vantage will be driven by Rory Butcher and John Hartshorne, both of whom will be making their British GT returns in 2014.
Hartshorne made a one off appearance in Optimum Motorsport’s Ginetta G55 GT3 in the final round of the 2012 season. Previously he had started a handful of races in 2004 driving a TVR, coming from a back ground in the marque’s single make scene, when – he admits – Michael Caine used to lap him.
Butcher finished second in the G4 class of the series in 2010, the class at the time accommodating both GT4 cars and ‘Supersport’ cars such as the KTM X-Bow that Butcher and co-driver Benjamin Harvey took to victory in the second of the season opening Oulton Park races.
More recently Butcher has been part of Celtic Speed’s team for the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, taking three wins during 2013 season. Hartshorne, meanwhile, has been a regular in the European Le Mans Series, winning the LMPC class of the 2012 campaign before moving up to LMP2 with Boutsen Ginion Racing, making a pair of starts in the championship last year.
“I’m really excited to be joining the Motorbase squad this season,” said Butcher. “They seem like a great bunch and I already have experience of working with Ricki [Martino] as he engineered me in the Carrera Cup last year. The Aston Martin is an unbelievable piece of kit; I got the chance to test it for the first time at Portimao and loved it!”
“It’s the perfect time to be coming back into the British GT Championship. I competed in 2010 in the GT4 class but there are far more professional drivers this year and much more competition out there on track but I have a great partner in John [Hartshorne]; he’s a great guy with excellent experience in endurance racing. I’d also like to thank all of my sponsors, especially Celtic Speed for their continued support.”
The 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship begins at Oulton Park over the Easter Weekend (April 19-21) with two 60 minute races to start the season.