Victory for Oman Racing Team in British GT opener

The Oman Racing Team started its 2015 Avon Tyres British GT Championship campaign in strong form over the Easter weekend (4-6 April) with a race win and four further points’ finishes for the squad’s three Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3s.

Liam Griffin started the weekend in perfect style securing pole position for himself and partner Rory Butcher in the #6 Vantage, with Al Harthy and Dryburgh taking P6 and P15 places respectively for Monday’s first one hour sprint race.

An incident-packed opening race delivered high drama for the Motorbase-run team with Griffin leading the GT3 pack for the opening stint of the race before handing over to Butcher where the Scotsman battled hard against Eastwood’s Ferrari to ultimately claim second spot on the podium; with the result promoted to a win.

Meanwhile, Al Harthy was the unfortunate victim of an on track melee and returned to the pits with damage to the #2 Vantage for his handover to partner Lloyd. Despite the best efforts of the Motorbase crew, with both the #2 and #4 Aston pitted simultaneously, Lloyd was regrettably held back behind the newly deployed safety car and dropped back down the order to finish in P10. The pit-stop fared better for the #4 Vantage with Dryburgh and British GT rookie Jackson benefitting to jump into P4 where they remained for the remainder of the race.

Race two was immediately hit by a safety car period during the opening laps but undeterred, Butcher and Griffin put in another very strong performance challenging at the front of the pack, ending the race in fourth to take an early lead in the championship standings. Lloyd put in a solid stint in the #2 Aston handing over to Al Harthy in P8, but disappointingly the Omani driver was forced to retire from the race with 15 minute remaining on the clock following contact with Eastwood. Jackson and Dryburgh put in another impressive run to bring the #4 Vantage home in P10, securing extra an points finish for the Oman Racing Team.

The weekend’s results kick off Motorbase Performance’s 2015 championship challenge in promising form and the Oman Racing Team leave Cheshire’s Oulton Park circuit leading the both the overall and Teams’ provisional standings. The championship now has a four week break before reconvening at Rockingham on 2/3 May.

Oman Racing Team Principal David Bartrum said: “Another great opening weekend for Motorbase in the British GT. We came here last year and put the Oman Racing Aston Martin on pole with Ahmad and Michael Caine and won the first race of the season. We’ve come back this year in the Motorbase car with Liam and Rory and happy to say that Liam did a great job putting the Aston on pole and he and Rory converted it to a win, which has started a tradition! For me it was a great day, Mat and Phil got a nice result with a fourth in race one as well so generally speaking it was a good weekend.

“We’ve picked up quite a bit of damage unfortunately and that’s where Ahmad and Dan suffered this weekend. The pair of them tried really, really hard to get the result from the car. Not only did they have to contend with the extra weight and restrictor penalty they also sustained a lot of damage to the car. But, the just result is that we got the race one win - I’m happy with that and we’ll move on from here and concentrate on the next round at Rockingham.”

Oman Racing Team driver Rory Butcher said:“This weekend has been really positive. It’s really good to have such a good balance in the team and I’m really lucky to have such a good team mate. Liam’s pole position set us up perfectly for the weekend and we’re obviously delighted to come away with the race win and to leave this weekend leading the championship. We just need to keep clocking up the points for the rest of the year and keep the pressure on for the championship.”

Oman Racing Team driver Liam Griffin said: “It was great to get pole on Saturday. It’s my first full season in this championship so you want to see how you compare to the other more experienced drivers, so to go and grab pole was really nice. Our pace in race 1 warranted a win, we were so much quicker out there on track so I feel it’s a fair result.”

Oman Racing Team driver Ahmad Al Harthy said: “Results-wise it was not what we wanted, for sure. We were passengers in both incidents and they both happened with me in the car but looking at the footage there’s nothing we could have done to avoid them. We need to take the positives from this weekend and put this behind us. We got a point I believe but having said that, we’re not here for that, we’re here for top finishes and we didn’t get that this weekend.

“We know what’s going on behind the scenes and hopefully it gets resolved as fast as it can and we can race competitively and fairly. The car’s set-up was amazing this weekend – it’s the best it’s ever been, but we’re lacking in straight line speed due to the restrictions and this is killing us.”

Oman Racing Team driver Mat Jackson said: “P4 is a really good result for us for the first time in the car. The team did a mega job with the pit stops and it put us straight in the race. It’s been a big learning curve this weekend, the Aston is a completely different animal to the front wheel drive that I’m used to but I really enjoyed it. I think P4 is a cracking result and we’ll all go away from here very happy.”

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