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Nurburgring frustration for Oman Racing Team

September 24th 2014

Nurburgring final ended in frustration for the Oman Racing Team

- Oman Racing Team enjoy best Blancpain qualifying result to date
- Frustration as promising end to season thwarted by opening lap contact

- Drama for Motorbase as Joe Osborne stands in for Stephen Jelley during season closer 

A frustrating race after a stellar qualifying performance wrapped up the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series for the Oman Racing Team during the Nurburgring 1000km race on Sunday (21 September).

Changing weather hit Saturday's qualifying sessions, but tremendous performances from Michael Caine and Ahmad Al Harthy put the team's Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 eighth overall in a grid of incredibly high standard GT teams and drivers.

Caine, Al Harthy & Jelley enjoyed their best Blancpain qualifying result to dateCaine made the opening qualifying run and delivered a fantastic performance to set sixth fastest time overall. When added to the strong run by Al Harthy, the #44 Oman car took its best qualifying position of the season with eighth place.

However, Sunday's six-hour race was hit by thick fog and heavy rainfall, making conditions very tough for the Motorbase Performance-run Oman car. To add to the already  difficult challenge, regular third driver Stephen Jelley was taken unwell and judged unfit to drive early on Sunday morning, with regular MP Motorsport driver Joe Osborne stepping in at the last-minute to cover his final two hour stint.

The run of bad luck continued into the race when unfortunate contact with a Bentley on the opening lap of the race damaged a tyre on the Aston Martin, forcing Caine into the pits. The unscheduled stop put the Motorbase crew on the back-foot from the start before the #44 Vantage suffered an electrical issue that cost the squad significant time and any chance of clawing back a good result. Once back in the race, the team took the decision to gain more experience of a race of this nature and the Aston Martin ran strongly to the flag, finally finishing in 32nd place overall and 11th in the Pro Cup class.

Early contact & an electrical issue thwarted a promising end to the seasonIt was a disappointing end to the Motorbase-run outfit's maiden season in the Blancpain Endurance Series; however the team has put the experience gained to good use with Team Principal David Bartrum already confirming his commitment to the championship with his intentions to return in 2015 with an extended two car line-up.

Oman Racing Team Principal David Bartrum said:
"It was a great weekend for us up until Sunday morning. I'm incredibly proud of the team for getting P8 on the grid and we looked set for a good end to our inaugural Blancpain season and then it all started to go wrong, with Stephen calling in sick, then the weather was awful and Michael's contact in the opening lap pretty much ended the weekend for us. What started as a promising weekend ended with a fizzle.

"I have to say a big thank you to Dave Wilcox and all at MP Motorsport for kindly lending us Joe Osborne to help out in our moment of need and a very big thank you to Joe for coming and doing a first class job for us. I have thoroughly enjoyed our first year in Blancpain and I do feel we really have unfinished business here. Next year we'll be back to prove ourselves; hopefully stronger and wiser."

MP Motorsport regular Joe Osborne stepped in as a last minute replacement after Stephen Jelley was declared medically unfit to raceOman Racing Team driver Ahmad Al Harthy said:
"Qualifying was a fantastic result: eighth on the grid was by far the Oman Racing Team's best qualifying of the season in Blancpain. We were confident we had a good package and the team was working well as always. After the contact Michael had to pit as there was some damage, then we had an electrical issue with the wipers so that meant a 10-minute delay in the pits. After that, we treated the race as a development run and just concentrated on our pace. We lapped consistently and it was very positive. We finished the race, which was great, and we're glad we ended the season strongly even if it wasn't the result we wanted. This will only go towards making us even stronger and better for the future."

Oman Racing Team driver Michael Caine said:
"Qualifying was brilliant and the car was really good: everybody did a great job. We tried to keep out of trouble at the start and it didn't work. I went to go up the inside of the Bentley and he turned in on me. I had nowhere to go and we just touched, but then he spun and came backwards into us. We got back into the race and the times were competitive and the car was good. But then we lost the windscreen wipers and that cost us 10 minutes. We've shown a lot of promise this year and Blancpain is 100% unfinished business."