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News 2013: Oman Air Motorbase takes sixth at Rockingham

May 7th

Al Harthy produced a stunning drive from back of grid

Ahmad Al Harthy, Michael Caine and Oman Air Motorbase scored a fighting sixth place at Rockingham on Sunday (6 May) in the second round of 2013 Avon Tyres British GT Championship.

Despite carrying a massive 75kg penalty on their Porsche 911 GT3R due to the driver grading system, Al Harthy and Caine bounced back from a first lap incident, a drive-through penalty and a late puncture to take a great result after a mighty team effort.

The two-hour race started badly for the Oman Air Motorbase Porsche, which had lined up in 15th place on the 30-car grid. "Ahmad got knocked off on the first lap," said Caine. "Then he was adjudged to have re-joined in an unsafe manner," said team boss David Bartrum. "He didn't do that, but that was one for the clerk of the course. We obviously tried to appeal that through the proper channels, but we were told we had to take it. So he then got a drive-through penalty and dropped to dead last."

Caine and Al Harthy take sixth at RockinghamUndeterred, Al Harthy attacked throughout the first hour and hauled the car right up into contention. "Ahmad drove a stunning first stint," said Bartrum as Caine re-joined in 15th place.

"The car felt good to me," said Caine. "I had a slight coming together with Benji Hetherington when I was going past him and that knocked the dive planes off the front right of the car." However, disaster struck with 15 minutes of the race to run. "Going through Turn One the car didn't feel great, and half way around the lap it started trying to change ends. Coming down to the hairpin, I knew it was a puncture so I dived into the pits and the guys changed the wheel," said Caine.

Instead of challenging for fourth place, Caine was now down in ninth and chasing to pass cars he had already passed once. With another major attack, he pulled back two more spots to finish seventh on the road and that later became sixth when one of the Aston Martins was penalised.

"It was a tough day but also an interesting day," said Bartrum. "Both drivers gave it their all and the team was absolutely brilliant on the pit stop. Our stop was two minutes and two seconds, and the minimum stop is two minutes. I think that around Rockingham on a hot day with 29 cars on the grid and starting from P15, it was an impressive performance. It was a sterling effort from team Oman Air Motorbase and I'm very much looking forward to the next race at Silverstone."