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Historic Championship success for Oman Racing Team

September 15th 2014

Oman Racing Team lead the pack during thrilling British GT final at Donington Park

- Historic Teams' Championship title win for first-ever Omani licenced entry 
- Second title in three years for David Bartrum's Motorbase-run squad

- Caine and Al Harthy end maiden Aston Martin season as Vice Champions

The Oman Racing Team made history during a thrilling final round of the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship as the first ever holders of the Oman Automobile Association licence to win the highly coveted GT3 Teams' Championship title. (14 September)

In a sensational two-hour race, Ahmad Al Harthy led for the first hour in the #4 Oman-backed Aston Martin Vantage GT3 but in a fiercely competitive second half of the race the car's 75kg weight penalty and a 15-second pit stop penalty proved just too big a handicap as Michael Caine brought the car home in fourth. One place behind, after a tremendous performance from both drivers, was the #5 Oman car in the hands of reunited pairing Liam Griffin and Rory Butcher.

The result was enough for Al Harthy and Caine to be named Vice Champions in the drivers' championship while the Motorbase Performance-run Oman Racing Team celebrated the end of its first season running the Aston Martin marque as Teams' Champions.  Butcher also secured a top ten championship spot, claiming ninth in the drivers' standings after an excellent debut season in British GT.

Al Harthy, David Bartrum, Michael Caine celebrate pole position after Saturday's close fought qualifying sessionA superb performance during Saturday's qualifying put the Al Harthy/Caine car on pole by just three-thousandths of a second from title favourites Marco Attard and Alexander Sims, with team-mates Griffin and Butcher claiming a fine fourth place on the grid as Griffin made a welcome return to the championship.

From the start, Al Harthy took control of Sunday's two hour race and moved into a theoretical championship lead when Attard's BMW retired with gearbox problems. Meanwhile, Griffin was delivering a hugely impressive drive to hold second despite intense pressure from a gaggle of cars.

Both cars carried pit stop penalties due to podium finishes at Brands Hatch last time out and that negated the leading margin that Al Harthy had built. Caine rejoined with a slender lead, but the car's weight penalty was really hurting it under braking at a track where the car has to make three big stops in quick succession. Caine raced very hard but eventually had to give best to his pursuers and crossed the line fourth, 10 seconds down on the leading car. Without the 15-second pit stop penalty, race victory would have clinched the drivers' title.

Rory Butcher and Liam Griffin secured 5th in tense BGT season finaleMeanwhile, Butcher continued the excellent work put in by his Oman Racing Team team-mate Griffin and took fifth place under pressure from the Aston Martin of former World Touring Car racer Alex MacDowall.

The result marks the end of highly successful season for David Bartrum's team and the 2nd title in three seasons for the Motorbase collective. A lightening turnaround is now in order though, with a quick stop off at the Kent workshop before the team heads out to Germany to compete in the final round of the Blancpain Endurance Series on the challenging Nurburgring circuit this coming weekend. (20/21 September)

Oman Racing Team Principal David Bartrum said:
"It was a very, very big task. We had to win the race so to get pole, provide a reliable car, to lead the race was very good: we gave it our all. We won the teams' championship, which I'm over the moon with, as that's a reflection on the team and the boys have done a really good job this year. The drivers acquitted themselves brilliantly. All four drivers have been first class this weekend and qualifying was a fantastic effort by all. But we gave it our best, won the teams' championship and were runners-up in the drivers' championship, so it's not too shabby a year.

Oman Racing Team make history as first-ever Omani registered entrants to win Teams' Championship title"We've been a Porsche team for 10 years and this was our first year with Aston Martin. If there was any doubt that we could run an Aston Martin, I think we've got rid of that. I'm very proud of the team and a big thank you goes to everyone involved."

Oman Racing Team driver Ahmad Al Harthy said:
"It just didn't happen. We could see it coming and we knew it was premature to celebrate. It was just not meant to be, but we did an amazing job and we should keep our heads up. We won the teams' championship and came second in the drivers' championship, so it has been a very good season. Next time, hopefully!"

Oman Racing Team driver Michael Caine said:
"The Aston was brilliant. No issues with handling or traction. But it was ominous just how late they could brake and it was the weight that was really hurting us under braking. The Porsche got up the inside of me and I was a sitting duck. The Audi came out of Coppice and pulled alongside. I went as late as I possibly could on the brakes into the Esses thinking he'd never make it, and he just braked and went through the corner."

Ahmad Al Harthy and David Bartrum with first-ever Oman Automobile Association racing licence presented to the Oman Racing Team this seasonOman Racing Team driver Rory Butcher said:
"That was really tough and Liam did an amazing job in the first stint. He got up to second and kept it there despite some big pressure and gave me a shot at a podium. We had a 10-second pit stop penalty for finishing third at Brands and that gave us more work to do as it cost us two places. For the first few laps the car was dynamite, but then I just got a consistent pace. Winning the team championship is a fantastic result."

Oman Racing Team driver Liam Griffin said:
"I enjoyed that! It was nice to be at the front. It was alright when I had clear air but as soon as I got the backmarkers it was quite tough. You have to be quite patient and keep calm and know that it is going to be the same for the other guys. I'd not driven the car for about eight weeks. The car is working well and I've definitely got the appetite for next year."