GT: Al Harthy and Caine take Pole for Donington title decider
Title challenging Aston Martin duo Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine will begin the decisive final race of the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit from pole position, after a tense and nail-biting qualifying session on Saturday, 13th September.
In order to win the drivers’ crown, the Oman Racing Team pairing need to win this weekend’s pivotal two-hour race at the Leicestershire track with current points leader Marco Attard – who is partnered by Alexander Sims – finishing no higher than seventh.
During an exciting qualifying period on Saturday afternoon, British racer Caine piloted the No.4 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 in session one and produced a best time of 1m29.304 seconds to conclude the run ninth fastest.
Taking over the Oman Air, Oman Ministry of Tourism, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Nawras, National Bank of Oman and Al Hashar Group/Aston Martin Oman-liveried car for session two, Ahmad rose to the challenge superbly and emerged with a lap time of 1m29.714 seconds.
With absolutely nothing between the Aston Martin duo and BMW pairing Attard and Sims on combined times from the two sessions, the Oman Racing Team drivers dramatically sealed the hugely important round 10 pole position by a mere 0.003 seconds.
“Pole position is exactly what we wanted”, said a delighted Ahmad, “Qualifying was tough but Michael did an amazing job in his session, then the pressure was on me to deliver. The team did an incredible job with the car, it was perfectly balanced and everything was good with traffic – I was able to get the lap I needed.
“We’ve done the hard work to start on pole, but now we need to keep pushing for the race and continue the hard work there. We got a lot of good work done with data and set-up in practice, so now it’s about more team work for the race and doing what we do best.”
As well as challenging for the drivers’ title in this weekend’s Donington Park finale, the Oman Racing Team leads the entrant standings with a 12 point advantage going into round 10. At the end of two hours of action-packed racing on Sunday afternoon, 33-year-old Muscat driver Ahmad could well be celebrating a famous double title victory.
“We’re going into the race with less pressure than [Marco] Attard, we’ve said that all along, so we’ll just try our hardest and do the best we can as always”, he commented, “We need a lot of things to go our way to try and win the championship but, whatever happens, it’s been an amazing season.”
Round 10 of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship, the decisive final race of the season, will get underway at 12.55 (UK time) today, Sunday, 14th September.
Provisional 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship Driver Standings (after Rd9):
1st Marco Attard (BMW), 148.5pts; 2nd Alexander Sims (BMW), 129.5pts; 3rd Ahmad Al Harthy & Michael Caine (Aston Martin), 120pts
Provisional 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship Team Standings (after Rd9):
1st Oman Racing Team (Aston Martin), 160.5pts; 2nd Ecurie Ecosse (BMW), 148.5pts; 3rd Trackspeed (Porsche), 133.5pts