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Home Track Glory for Oman Racing Team

September 3rd 2014

Oman Racing Team lead the British GT Teams Championship following Brands Hatch result

The Oman Racing Team celebrated a superb double podium at its home circuit, Brands Hatch, during an action-packed round nine of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship over the weekend (30/31 August).

Racing on the spectacular Grand Prix layout, Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine took second place in the two-hour race and were chased over the finish line by the Motorbase Performance-run team's other Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 in the hands of Rory Butcher and Jeff Smith.

After securing a combined starting position of third on the grid, Al Harthy stormed into the lead on the opening lap of the race and had built a seven-second lead after 20 laps when the safety car was deployed. When racing re-started, Ahmad again took control of the race and led to the pit stops. After Caine took over duties in the #4 Vantage he rejoined in second place and although edged down to third by the Porsche of Nick Tandy, Caine was able to battle ahead of Phil Keen's Porsche to retake second place.

#5 Aston Martin Vantage takes P3 at Brands HatchOman Racing team mates Smith and Butcher put in another faultless performance in the #5 Vantage.  Driving a storming race to emulate the duo's last result at Spa back in July; Butcher closed right up to Caine's tail at the flag with the Oman cars made a striking sight as they crossed the line together in second and third places.

The result was the perfect reward for David Bartrum's squad following the complete rebuild of the #4 Vantage after a major incident in the Total 24 hours of Spa event five weeks earlier. The Kent-based crew performed a mammoth task to produce a race ready car in time for its home circuit race with Al Harthy and Caine getting the first test run in the newly completed Vantage just three days prior.

The Brands Hatch result puts Ahmad and Michael into third in the drivers' points and they still have an outside chance of beating Marco Attard to the overall title during the final race at Donington Park on 14 September. Meanwhile, Oman Racing Team has a 12-point lead in the teams' championship and team boss David Bartrum is determined to maintain that lead into the final race of the season.

Al Harthy and Caine celebrate P2 finish and double podium for the Oman Racing TeamOman Racing Team Principal David Bartrum said:
"After Ahmad's crash at Spa, once we knew that he was ok, we went down to the pound of doom to see the car and I can honestly say I've never seen one of my race cars so badly hurt.  After bringing the Vantage back to the UK literally in bits it was frantic. We thought it was going to be calm two weeks without any racing, but no! There's been a sterling effort by the team; Tim, Charlie, Jason, Neville and Ants – who worked miracles with the paint to get the car ready in time. They've basically had to rebuild it from scratch with a new body, a new engine, a new gearbox, all new panels, all new suspension and a new front end; 90% of the car is new. We had a great test at Snetterton on the Wednesday before Brands, which was the first time Ahmad had seen the car since being dragged out of it at 4am at Spa. We needed to put some miles on the car. To come back from that to get such a good result at our home circuit on the Grand Prix track is something very special.

"I think that the Drivers' Championship is now Attard and Sim's to lose. They're going to be a tough act to beat, but after Brands we're now leading the Teams' Championship.  We've got two good cars with two good pairs of drivers, for me if we could win the Team Championship and at least be runner up in the other I'd be delighted. It's going to be a tough call and I think it's going to go down to wire at the Donington final."

Second British GT podium for Butcher and SmithOman Racing Team driver Michael Caine said:
"It was good as it was a brand new car for this race. Obviously we had a big accident at Spa in the 24-hour race, so the guys have worked a miracle to get the car here.

"It was tough for Ahmad on the opening stint, we had a great gap and that's what we were hoping for. The safety car and the driver changes then meant we were second on the road. At the end the sister car was catching, it was close at the end, but we knew what was happening. It was all about not taking risk with the back markers, and not killing the tyres. We had a conversation and it all worked out fine, so second and third for Motorbase is great."

Oman Racing Team driver Ahmad Al Harthy said
"It's a really good result and although there's still a big points' gap in the championship: we'll keep pushing to the end as we always do. I was very happy with my stint, I was P1 the whole time and it's a shame the safety car came out as it reduced the lead we had built up. When the pit-window opened, we pitted from the lead and Michael then did a great job. Finishing in second place is fantastic for everyone in the team and with Rory and Jeff third, it's an amazing result for the Oman Racing Team. The driver title is still alive, but it will be very tough to try and achieve."

Rebuilt #4 Oman Racing Team Vantage takes P2 in Brands thrillerOman Racing Team driver Rory Butcher said:
"I'm absolutely delighted with the result. We started fourth and Jeff put in a really good stint at the start, but then the safety car made it a little bit harder. It closed everybody back up, and once I got in the car it took me a couple of laps to get into the rhythm, and get a feel for how the car was, and a feel for the fuel load.

"It felt much better at the end of the race, and to come home with Michael and Ahmad only just in front of us was really, really good. The team is absolutely delighted. Our sister car is looking good for the championship, so I'm happy to settle for third, and see the team do well. For me it's a good team performance, we're now leading the team championship, so it wasn't worth taking any risks. I'm just really happy for everybody."