(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Oman Racing Team's Ahmad al Harthy and Michael Caine were left to rue their fate as 'human error' cost the team a potential podium finish in round three of the British GT Championship at Rockingham, UK on Monday.
Ahmad was placed fifth when he made a smart strategy call for a pitstop at the end of lap 38. Caine took over from Ahmad with the team perfectly positioned to challenge for the podium. But, as the former champion emerged out of the pitstop, the light at the end of the pitlane switched from green to red.
Caine was held up for quite some time until the lights changed but by then the team had lost precious time.
A late rally saw Caine finish the race in 11th place, climbing up from 14th spot. Post-race, though, an amendment to the race order was made by officials with the Oman Racing Team car elevated into tenth place due to a ten-second time penalty for a rival.
The FF Corse pairing of Gary Eastwood and Rob Barff in a Ferrari 458 won the race while Ecurie Ecosse was runner-up.
Going into the second round as overall leader and starting from the third row of the grid, Ahmad came up with a determined show as he shuffled back to eighth position before moving up to top five by lap nine in his Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3.
Although back in sixth when the safety car was deployed on lap 30, at the re-start Ahmad made quick work of the car ahead to retake fifth and as the pit window opened for the teams to refuel and change drivers, the Oman Racing Team car remained on track before coming in for the pitstop on lap 38 in the second position.
Speaking to Muscat Daily on his arrival on Tuesday from London, UK, Ahmad said, ''With double points on offer for the two-ur race, the mix-up was unbelievable. It was very frustrating after getting off to a good start. We were well-placed to challenge for the podium when I pitted.''
''We suffered for no fault of ours. It was a human error, which even the officials acknowledged later and an investigation has been launched into the incident. But it is not going to help us. All our hard work went in vain,'' the 32 year old said.
''It is something similar to what we see sometimes in football. A referee mistakenly gives a penalty and the team loses. Afterwards, the referee may apologise but then it doesn't help,'' he said.
''In motor sports, we do have sometimes electrical or mechanical failures. We cannot do much in such instances, but here it was human error. I have never been in such a position,'' said the Omani ace.
Satisfying month: Ahmad
Ahmad al Harthy, who returned to Muscat after a month of racing, said that his recent stint was satisfying' till Rockingham. ''We kicked off in Monza with the Blancpain Endurance Series, where my pace was amazing. But electrical malfunctioning forced us out,'' he said.
''We started the British GT with a terrific win at Oulton Park. And the best part was that we even managed to score points in the second round of the race. I came closest to Caine's speed and he has been my benchmark. To race at this level and be able to come up with good speeds is definitely satisfying,'' he said.
Ahmad will now focus on a double-header at Silverstone GP circuit when he competes in the Blancpain Endurance Series second round on May 24-25 followed by the British GT race on May 31-June 1.
''It is the circuit where I won the Blancpain round last year and I hope to defend it,''