(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) The Oman Racing Team (ORT), spearheaded by Omani driver Ahmad al Harthy, had a disappointing start to the season's opening race of the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series in Monza, Italy on Sunday as the team was forced to retire due to electrical problems in the car.
Driving the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, the team was forced to quit the race in the third and final session of the three-hour contest, denying the three-member team of Ahmad, Stephen Jelley and Michael Caine a potential top-ten finish.
Alvaro Parente, Grgoire Demoustier and Alexandre Premat dominated the first round of the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series with their ART Grand Prix McLaren, leading from start to finish.
The ORT was competing in the Pro Cup class of the European championship and got off to a strong start with Jelley behind the wheels in the opening hour. Ahmad continued in the same rhythm and displayed good track speed
During his stint.
Prior to pitting for the final driver change, to hand back the car to Caine, Ahmad worked his way into ninth place in the Pro Cup class and 11th position overall.
But minutes after Caine resumed, the Aston Martin developed problems with the power supply and was forced to return to the pits.
Despite all efforts by the ORT-Motorbase Performance's mechanics, the car had to eventually retire. ''As soon as Michael took over, the car started having problems. It was shutting itself down and was not running properly,'' Ahmad said. ''So, he pitted and the guys in the team did everything they could to fix the problem. They changed everything possible, but still couldn't resolve it - we are sure it was something electrical.
''Until then, everything was going well and I was happy with my stint. My pace and consistency were good and I did everything the team asked me to do. We all did our best, but it just wasn't to be. That is the nature of endurance racing.''
Beginning from the 19th position overall, Jelley concluded lap one in an improved 16th place. Running consistently, the Briton climbed into 12th overall, ninth in the Pro Cup class, before Ahmad took over with 58 minutes of racing completed.
Emerging from the opening round of pit-stops outside the top 20, the 32 year old Omani racer made progress back through the order, and within four laps, he was into 16th position and back into the top ten in the Pro Cup.
After posting some more impressive timings, Ahmad ended his hour in the car in ninth position in the Pro Cup and 11th overall only to see the car suffer electrical problems soon after.
Round two of the Blancpain Endurance Series will be held at the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in the UK from May 23-25. Prior to that, Ahmad and the ORT will be in action at Oulton Park in the UK from April 19-21 for the first two races of the 2014 British GT Championshi