Al Harthy Aiming To Capitalise On Front Row At Spa‏

Avon Tyres British GT Championship title contender Ahmad Al Harthy produced a tremendous performance in round seven qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday, 11th July, to secure a front row start for the first of the weekend’s two races at the Belgian venue – despite having to cope with the handicap of an additional 15kg of ballast in his Oman Racing Team car.Beginning the opening day strongly with the ninth quickest time in the first free practice session, the No.4 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 was an improved seventh fastest in session two, setting things up very nicely ahead of the all-important qualifying runs.Taking the wheel for the round seven session, 32-year-old Ahmad posted a best time of 2m25.532 seconds (173.257 km/h) to miss out on pole position by just 0.2 seconds. He was, though, the fastest of the Aston Martin entries, all of whom having to run with extra ballast from this weekend forward after a ruling put in place by British GT series organiser SRO.“My session wasn’t perfect but it’s always a good thing when you’re disappointed with second on the grid, starting at the front for the first race is great”, said the Omani, “We definitely want to improve on that in the race and we know we’re always stronger in race conditions than qualifying, so we’re all feeling positive.“We’re looking forward to the races but we really need to make the most of where we’re starting in the first race, hopefully we can capitalise on it. The second one is going to be tough so we just need to do what we can there and see what happens.”In round eight qualifying team-mate Michael Caine had greater problems with the handling, due to the extra weight in the car, and ultimately had to settle for a time of 2m24.189 seconds (174.870 km/h) which places the duo on row 10 of the grid for the second Spa encounter.But even with the increased ballast, the Oman Air, Oman Ministry of Tourism, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Nawras, National Bank of Oman and Al Hashar Group/Aston Martin Oman-supported drivers do retain high hopes of making significant progress.“The 15kg is really going to hurt us, especially in corners like Eau Rouge where the extra compression will really make things difficult”, added Ahmad, “Over a full lap time the difference may not be that noticeable, but in the races it’s going to have a big impact on us. We know we still have a great car, though, and we’ll do our very best to try and take away as many points as we can.”Round seven of the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship season at Spa-Francorchamps will get underway at 09.15 (local time) this morning, Saturday, 12th July, with round eight following at 13.50 (local time).Provisional 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship Driver Standings (after Rd6):4th Ahmad Al Harthy & Michael Caine, 74ptsProvisional 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship Team Standings (after Rd6):3rd Oman Racing Team, 77pts