After leading the championship into the two hour race at Rockingham the Oman Racing Team pair of Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine were denied a chance to return to the podium in the two hour Avon Tyres British GT Championship race at the track.
One of the most well balanced pairings in the championship Al Harthy and Caine qualified their Aston martin Vantage GT3 in the top ten. Teammates Rory Butcher and Michael Caine qualified seventeeth fastest – though Butcher was the fastest of the team’s driving quartet. However, they would have to start from the rear of the grid with former BTCC driver Griffin having been registested as a late entry for the race.
Having avoided the first lap contact which delayed many of their would be rivals Al Harthy put the #4 car in a strong position in the top ten before the team chose to make their stop just as the safety car came out.
The move should have put Caine back out on track in contention for podium. However, the Newmarket man found a red light – left on by mistake the Clerk of the Course admitted – that allowed the pack behind the safety car to pass him and push him back 13th.
“Things out of our control cost us that chance. When Michael took over, he was held at the end of the pitlane but it was later acknowledged that shouldn’t have happened. He had to wait there for ages and was in a really tough situation, all of the lead I managed to gain was wiped out so we’re very disappointed. As a team, though, everyone did a great job again.”
Caine describes his stint; “You can’t get past people with the weight penalty we had; I’m okay in the corners but not on the straights. I got up to Buncombe’s Nissan, was underneath him and he turned in. We touched, I tried to then back out and we ended up parked together at Pif Paf. When he pulled away again he took my front wing away. Then it came off totally and it was a struggle. It was an eventful race!”
He crossed the line in 11th place – but was promoted up to the final spot in the top ten by a post race penalty for another pairing.
Butcher and Griffin finished 12th after a strong race. The pair were in contention to challenge for the points until Butcher was forced to make an additional pitstop in the second half of the race due to puncture.
The team can now enjoy a four week break before the resumption of hostilities at Silverstone where the British GT field tackles the longest race of the season.