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Motorbase denied podium chance in British GT

May 7th 2014

Safety Car mix up denies strong podium chance for Caine and Al Harthy at Rockingham

A mid-race safety car period cost the Motorbase Performance team a chance of a podium finish in round three of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Rockingham (4/5 May) when the Oman Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine was badly delayed at the pit exit.

Ultimately, the Oman car finished tenth overall whilst the new pairing of Rory Butcher and Liam Griffin in the second Motorbase Vantage had a solid race, crossing the line in twelfth during the two-hour contest despite suffering their own dramas beyond their control.

The Oman Racing team took sixth and seventeenth places on the grid for the double point race; formed from the combined best qualifying laps from each driver. Butcher was particularly impressive as the fastest of the four drivers in qualifying, though he and GT3 new comer Griffin were forced to start from the back of the grid due to Griffin being registered as a late entry.

In the #4 Aston Martin, Al Harthy ran the opening stint and was running in a comfortable sixth place when a Safety Car period signaled a rush of pit stops. The team did its usual slick job, but with the red lights at the end of the pitlane kept on in error, Caine was incorrectly held at the end of the pitlane for a long time and lost seven places as a result.

Butcher and Griffin's progress through the pack in the #5 Vantage was curtailed by a puncture

The 'human error' as described by the Clerk of the Course, cost the Oman Racing team a definite chance of a podium finish. Caine raced on as hard as he could, despite damage to the Aston's front wing after contact with another car, but the final result was only a frustrating tenth.

Griffin and Butcher had a strong race, finishing just outside the points in 12th despite suffering from a puncture after the mandatory stop which saw debutant Griffin complete the first stint well. This forced Butcher to make an additional call into the pits, effectively ending their challenge prematurely.

Round three's results leave the Oman Racing Team in 4th place overall in the championship standings heading into a four week break before the Avon Tyres British GT Championship continues with a three-hour race at Silverstone on 31 May/1 June.

Oman Racing Team driver Ahmad Al Harthy said: 
"I was quite happy with my stint and after the first Safety Car, we were in P6 and as soon as it came in we moved to P5, at that point it all looked strong for a podium finish.

"Unfortunately, though, things out of our control cost us that chance. When Michael took over, he was held at the end of the pitlane but it was later acknowledged that shouldn't have happened. He had to wait there for ages and was in a really tough situation, all of the lead I managed to gain was wiped out so we're very disappointed. As a team, though, everyone did a great job again."

Oman Racing Team driver Michael Caine said:
"We got held up at the safety car line when I took over and came out 13th. You can't get past people with the weight penalty we had; I'm okay in the corners but not on the straights. I got up to Buncombe's Nissan, was underneath him and he turned in. We touched, I tried to then back out and we ended up parked together at Pif Paf. When he pulled away again he took my front wing away. Then it came off totally and it was a struggle. It was an eventful race!"