Al Harthy Starts 2012 Season On Porsche GB Podium

Oman Air Racing Team driver Ahmad Al Harthy made a strong start to the 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on Saturday, 31st March, with a Pro-Am 1 podium finish during the first race of the 2012 season.Starring in qualifying by securing the class pole position with a time of 46.585 seconds (93.34mph), placing him a tenth of a second ahead of his closest rival, the 30-year-old toughed-out a robust race to finish third in Pro-Am 1 at the end of 34 gruelling laps.Although disappointed to slip to second place off the start, Ahmad certainly hadn't given up hopes of winning the opening round of the new championship - and he most definitely had the race pace to achieve it.On lap three though the Safety Car was deployed, due to a tangle between two backmarkers, and at the re-start on lap five the Omani was bundled back to third after running slightly wide on some fluid on the track surface.From that point on, the Oman Air, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Ministry of Tourism, Nawras, National Bank of Oman and Muscat Eye Laser Centre-backed driver spent the remainder of the race frustratingly bottled up behind an increasingly defensive Michael Leonard.Despite setting the fastest Pro-Am 1 lap of the race on the seventh tour - a time of 47.388 seconds (91.76mph) - and clearly being the quicker of the two drivers, Ahmad had to contend with some very stern defence.

His best opportunity to attack Leonard came on lap 24 at the exit of Graham Hill Bend when the Irishman ran particularly wide. Seeing his chance, Ahmad nosed alongside on the run along Cooper Straight but was unceremoniously squeezed out towards the grass. With no option other than to back out of the move, the Omani maintained third to the finish - just 0.5 seconds shy of Leonard."I had an average start really and then a difficult first few laps", said the Muscat racer, "We showed we were the quickest package in Pro-Am 1 by setting the fastest lap though so I'm very happy with that. I'm always glad to be on the podium so this is a good start to the new season for everyone at the Oman Air Racing Team. Pole position, a podium and fastest lap is a good way to begin 2012."Round two of the 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship will take place at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit this afternoon, Sunday, 1st April, at 13.25 and Ahmad will once again line-up on the Pro-Am 1 pole position. The action will be screened live in the UK on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4 with live streaming also available online at itv.com/touringcars