Contact costs Ahmad Al Harthy Porsche ME Podium in Bahain

Ahmad Al Harthy departed Bahrain International Circuit on Saturday, 15th November, pleased with his pace but frustrated with the eventual outcome of the opening weekend of the 2014/2015 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East after race one contact robbed him of a certain podium.Confident of marking his return to the category, and first race behind the wheel of a Porsche in over a year, with a suitably successful start to the championship, the Omani leapt into third from fifth on the grid at the start of round one on Friday, 14th November, and ran very comfortably during the first half of the floodlit evening encounter.His podium hopes, though, ended on lap seven after the Safety Car was deployed incorrectly – which led to Ahmad losing all of the advantage he had built up over the chasing pack. Attacked at Turn 13 by a rival car, the ensuing contact pitched the 33-year-old off the circuit but he did recover.Soon after, further contact from another driver resulted in lap eight retirement for the No.3 Al Nabooda Racing car but more drama followed the race when Ahmad was served with a questionable grid penalty for his part in the second incident.“We were very unfortunate in the first race but sometimes in racing these things happen”, said the Muscat racer, “I had an amazing start, up from P5 into P3 straight away, and put together some very good opening laps to build a gap. About halfway through, the Safety Car was deployed incorrectly and I lost my rhythm and that put me in the clutches of the guys behind.“There was some contact from one of the Sky Dubai cars at Turn 13, that pushed me wide and I lost three places, and I tried to continue but was hit again. I was surprised I was given a penalty, it’s the first one I’ve ever had in my entire career!”With the penalty dropping Ahmad to the back of the 15-car grid for round two, which unlike race one took place in the daytime on Saturday, the Omani had a tough challenge ahead but produced an excellent performance.Carving his way through into the top six with strong race pace, he managed to put the frustration of race one firmly behind him to chalk-up his first points of the weekend. Al Nabooda team-mate, and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup racer, Clemens Schmid claimed victory in both races.“We definitely showed more of our true pace and performance in race two”, added Ahmad, “We did the maximum we could from the back of the grid, it was a good race and to climb through into P6 was the best we could hope for. Although the results aren’t what we wanted or should have had, we know we have good pace and I learnt so much. Congratulations to Clemens on his two wins!”Next on the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East calendar is a visit to Dubai Autodrome in the UAE on Friday, 5th December, and Saturday, 6th December, for rounds three and four of the season.

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