GT: First podium of the season for Al Harthy as runner up in British GT at Rockingham
Sun May 3rd 2015 – Ahmad Al Harthy and team-mate Daniel Lloyd celebrated a richly deserved first podium finish of the 2015 Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Rockingham on Sunday, 3rd May, after racing strongly to an excellent second place in round three of the season.
Having qualified a highly competitive third fastest for the two-hour contest, Ahmad took the opening stint of the race and after moving into second place on lap 12 with a great move in the No.2 Oman Racing Team Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 he remained in contention for the lead throughout.
Delivering superb pace, the 33-year-old Omani actually ended his stint with the fastest lap time of all up to that point – 1m26.955 seconds – and shadowed the leading BMW of reigning champion Marco Attard for almost the entire duration of the run up to the mandatory driver change pit-stops.
Attard and Ahmad pitted at the same when the pit window opened after the 50-minute mark and when Lloyd ventured back out onto track behind the wheel of the Oman Air, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Ooredoo, National Bank of Oman and Al Hashar Group-backed Aston, he held the lead of the race from Attard’s team-mate Alexander Sims.
Fending off the attentions of the BMW factory driver with some excellent driving, Lloyd’s sterling work was undone on lap 52, with 40 minutes of racing remaining, when he ran too deep into Deene Hairpin after being forced onto the dirty part of the track as he lapped slower GT4 Class traffic.
Managing to recover in second position, Lloyd remained there to the chequered flag – staying unflustered through a mid-stint Safety Car period which bunched the pack up – to not only record the partnership’s first podium finish, but also victory in the Silver Cup classification.
“It was really important we got a good start and could hold position, and also keep pushing as at that time we had great pace in the car”, explained Ahmad, “I let the race come to me, as soon as we had an opportunity to pass Andrew [Howard] for second I took it cleanly and then it was a matter of just keeping everything in control passing the backmarkers and looking after the car.
“I knew we would pass the BMW in the pits, so it wasn’t worth risking anything in the race. The team did a great job in the pit-stop and Dan had the lead after that which was great, but we always knew it would be tough to hold onto that with the extra 70kg we have to carry on the car. He did a great job, though, and to bring the car home for our first podium this year is fantastic.”
Importantly, with 150% points up for grabs this weekend due to the longer duration of the race, Ahmad and Lloyd have rocketed up from 11th position in the championship into the top five and have also substantially increased their lead in the Silver Cup division. In the team standings, the Oman Racing Team holds a 33 point advantage at the top of the table.
“I have to thank all of the supporters back home in Oman, my wonderful sponsors and my family who have all stood by us through the winter”, added Ahmad, “Now we’re back on the podium it’s something very special for them too and this gives us a lot of confidence and extra motivation for the next round.”
Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit will host the 180 minute duration fourth round of the British GT season on Sunday, 31st May. One week earlier, Ahmad and the Oman Racing Team will be in action at the Northamptonshire track for the second round of the Blancpain Endurance Series.