Oman Racing take a dominant British GT win amid collision controversies

British GT podium (photo by Marc Waller)Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine took a dominant win in the season’s longest British GT race at Silverstone last weekend.

Their victory in the 3 hour race came amid controversy when some of the GT4 contenders had got in the way of or had collided with the front runners. Andrew Howard and Marco Attard haad started on the front row for Beachdean and Ecuurie Eccose respectively but Al Harthy got ahead of Attard on the opening lap to run second to Howard. Howard then got caught up trying to lap Alan Schlesinger in the GT4 BMW he was sharing with Declan Jones. Howard ran onto the grass allowing Al Harthy through into the lead. There was then more GT4 vs GT3 drama when the Bailey/Schulz Aston hit the Yusuf/Kershaw Lotus Evora bringing out the safety car.

Al Harthy immediately pitted to swap with Michael Caine for the first time but significantly Attard and Howard stayed out which gave the Oman Racing Aston Martin an advantage they were never to lose. Schlesinger’s BMW was in trouble again with the GT3 runners once again as the race restarted. This time he collided with Rob Barff’s FF Corse Ferrari. Barff, the Rockingham winner with Gary Eastwood was out that lap but Schlesinger continued. The stewards weren’t impressed excluding him and giving him both a fine plus four points on his licence. He had also sent the M-Sport Bentley onto the grass in another incident, this time without contact.

British GT podium (photo by Marc Waller)British GT podium (photo by Marc Waller)The Bentley was to be involved in it’s own controversial incident in the closing stages. With the Oman Racing car comfortably in the lead and the Beachdean aston Martin in second, it was down to fourth placed Ecurie Eccosse car, (now with Alexander Sims at the wheel) to provide the action. Steven Kane, again sharing the M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 with Rempert Berg caught the Barwell run Ecurie BMW on the hanger straight with a couple of laps to go, he attacked into Stowe but neither would give way and the BMW was sent spinning. The Bentley went on to finish the race in third but after celebrating on the podium, they were penalised thirty seconds by the stewards demoting them back down to fourth, behind the Ecurie Eccosse duo. He points for third place give the Ecurie Eccosse team the lead in the championship. Marco Attard is the only one of their drivers who is due to compete in all races so if they are to win, he’ll be British GT champion. He wil be joined next race by Jonny Cocker as Alexander Sims is racing elsewhere.

Behind the top four the consistent Pasin Lathouras took fifth with Alessandro Pierguidi with the first of the Triple Eight cars in fifth. Derek Johnston and Luke Hines had a solid if not particularly impressive race in sixth and finished abovetheir team mates, Joe Osbourne and Lee Mowle who were down in eleventh after offs at the start and end of the race dropped them down the field. Sir Chris Hoy again impressed in only his third British GT meeting when he took British GT podium (photo by Marc Waller)British GT podium (photo by Marc Waller)British GT podium (photo by Marc Waller)seventh with Alex Buncombe after a very strong early stint. Eighth was yet another Aston with Mark Poole and Richard Abra in the MP Racing car. The final two top ten places were also Aston’s, he second Oman Racing car of Rory Butcher and Liam Griffin took ninth, crossing the line in a Le Mans style formation finish with their victorious team mates. Completing the top ten was former BTCC driver Tom Onslow Cole sharing the Strata 21 Aston Martin with Paul White. They had won out in a late race battle with the Triple eight BMW.

In a race of incidents, one of the strangest was between the United Autosport Audi R8 and the Kinfaun Aston Martin as they made a pitstop. Phil Dryburgh in the Aston appeared to be taken by surpise at the rate the Audi slowed and he ran into the back of the car as they entered thepits. Both cars were out of the race from the resulting damage.

In GT4, Bradley Ellis and Adrian Barwick took the honours after long time leaders Century Motorsport (Parfitt Jr and Olliphant in their Ginetta G55) collided with Andrew Jarman’s Aston into Chapel. Jarman eventually took third in class sharing the car with Devon Modell but the Century Motorsport car dropped further back with a drive through penalty as they received the blame for the incident. Another collision with a GT3 car caused a small fire just before the end and although they didn’t take the flag they were classified eighth. Ryan Ratcliffe and Matt Draper eventually took the Gt4 runners up spot despite leading earlier in the race. Ratcliffe was taking Tania Mann’s place in the car after she had to withdraw before the weekend.

Full results can be found on TSL as usual, here;
The next races are at Snetterton on the 21st June.   By Marc Waller

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