Ahmad Al Harthy produced a pair of superb race performances at Oulton Park Island Circuit on Sunday, 10th June, to increase his Pro-Am 1 points lead and extend his perfect podium finishing record to eight during the fourth race meeting of the 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship.
Although Saturday’s qualifying session didn’t go as well as the Oman Air Racing Team driver wanted, he converted a fourth place start for the first race into third in Pro-Am 1 before bettering that with an outstanding drive from the back of the grid in race two – finishing just 0.1 seconds shy of the win.
Ahmad was scheduled to begin the second encounter from fourth but with the set of tyres he was due to use being in quite bad condition after the wet-but-drying qualifying session, the 30-year-old had to take fresh rubber for the race and accept the grid penalty which went with it.
It proved to be the highlight of the weekend for the Oman Air, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Ministry of Tourism, Nawras, National Bank of Oman and Muscat Eye Laser Centre-supported racer though. Making a blistering getaway, Ahmad sliced his way through the lower order and by lap two had already worked his way into third in Pro-Am 1.
Smartly avoiding any possible spins on coolant which had been dropped on the track after a lap one incident, the Omani pressed on in his pursuit of the cars ahead and moved up into second at the expense of Derek Pierce following a spin for the latter on lap four at the chicane.
Another incident led to even more coolant on the track from lap seven but Ahmad wasn’t caught-out and he continued his relentless charge to try and reel in Pro-Am 1 leader Oly Mortimer. By lap 15 just 1.5 seconds split the pair but by lap 17, the penultimate tour, Ahmad was right with his rival.
Into the final lap, only 0.1 seconds was the difference but Mortimer clung to the racing line for all he was worth over the last 2.23 miles and so the Omani had to settle for a nonetheless fantastic second place. He only just missed out on the fastest Pro-Am 1 lap too, by less than 0.1 seconds.
“We had to take new tyres for race two, the ones we had from qualifying were too badly damaged so we had to make that choice and start from the back”, explained Ahmad, “We were thinking how many points we could score but when we started to be in the fight for the podium, automatically that became like winning for us. To fight for P1 on the last lap, from where I started, was amazing.
“The team did a great job this weekend, I’m really happy with how things went in the races even if qualifying wasn’t as we planned. We all had problems when the coolant went down on the track but I had to use that to my advantage, I was lucky to see the coolant in front of me so I was able to avoid it as much as possible. I’m absolutely delighted with our performance today.”
During the earlier seventh round, Ahmad held fourth in class early on but deposed Mortimer for third on lap four. By lap eight he was just 0.4 seconds behind second placed Pierce and despite trying everything he could to get past the Scotsman, Ahmad had to settle for third at the finish on lap 18 just 0.5 seconds shy of the runner-up spot.
Croft Circuit, near Darlington in North Yorkshire, will host rounds nine and 10 of the 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship a fortnight from now over the weekend 23rd/24th June. Ahmad will arrive there with an enhanced 32 point lead in the Pro-Am 1 driver standings.
2012 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship – Pro-Am1 Driver Standings (after Rd8):1st Ahmad Al Harthy, 75pts