(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) The Oman Air Motorbase team - Ahmad al Harthy and Michael Caine - is all set to face one of its toughest challenges in the penultimate event of the 2013 British GT Championship at the Zandvoort circuit in the Netherlands on September 7-8.
Speaking to Muscat Daily on Tuesday, ahead of his departure for the rounds eight and nine, Oman's ace driver Ahmad said, ''Certainly, this is going to be the hardest weekend of the season. It will be debuts for both of us at the Dutch circuit and with the extra weight on board, the qualifying will be difficult.''
The 32 year old said, ''We are hopeful of having a good testing session on Friday and hope to achieve a podium finish at Zandvoort. So far, we have been the only team to have collected points in all the seven races and I am extremely proud of it. We hope to give our best.''
Having never raced at the Dutch track and also carrying a 75kg weight penalty all season due to the championship organisers' grading of the two drivers, the team faces a challenging task to finish the season on the podium.
Moreover, matters have only got worse due to the duo's speed on the Porsche 911 GT3R, with an additional 75kg penalty being imposed on the team.
This would mean the team will be driving around Zandvoort with a massive 130kg of ballast on board, which Ahmad felt was a 'big disadvantage'.
''We respect the decision and we will try to overcome it [130kg ballast on board] by making efficient pit stops, committing lesser mistakes and good race craft,'' said Ahmad.
''We hope for a strong qualifying result, which will be our toughest task as the weight penalty hits hard the most during the qualifying races,'' he said.
Ahmad said that his teammate and defending champion Caine has recovered from the gas poisoning scare during the British GT Championship in Brands Hatch, UK, last month.
''He is a great driver and a professional. Unless he is 100 per cent fit, he would not have agreed to race. I have been in regular touch with him and he is ready and raring to go,'' said Ahmad.
The duo had finished in seventh position, up from their 20th grid start, in the last round race at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.
The win ensured that they maintained their unbroken run of point finishes. Oman Air Motorbase is fifth on the drivers' standings with 70 points and sixth in the teams' standings with 73 points.
''The standings can change quite fast in endurance racing and we are still in the hunt for an overall podium finish, which would be a great result after having a good run so far,'' said Ahmad.
Oman Air Motorbase team boss David Bartrum also said that the duo's fight for the podium has become more difficult with the extra weight this time.
''We are going there very disadvantaged as we are carrying the weight penalty. If we are going to consolidate our championship position or go even better; then we need to make the most of these two races and score good points in both. We've got two good drivers who work very well together and we've got a very well drilled team.''
Following free practice sessions on Friday, qualifying and round eight of the British GT Championship will be held on Saturday. On Sunday, there will be an untimed warm-up session followed by the penultimate round of the championship.
Briton Andrew Howard of Beechdean AMR team leads the drivers' standings with 95.5 points while Trackspeed tops the teams' table with 136.