(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Ahmad al Harthy and his Oman Racing Team (ORT) settled for a tenth-place finish in the Pro Cup class during the third round of the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series at Paul Ricard in France on Saturday.
The ORT racers were left frustrated a lot after mid-race bodywork damage robbed them of the chance to grab significant points.
Hoping to shine during the three-hour evening race at Le Castellet, the 32 year old Omani did precisely that with an impressive opening stint at the wheel of his Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, climbing through the order from 17th overall into the top 12 - and eighth in the Pro Cup class.
The M-Sport Bentley team, comprising the trio of Guy Smith, Andy Meyrick and Steven Kane, finished on top in the Pro Cup class in their Bentley Continental GT3.
Pitting to hand the car over to his teammate Michael Caine just prior to the hour mark, the Briton worked his way back up the order during the early part of his stint and was running ninth in the Pro Cup before being forced to take an unscheduled stop on lap 38 due to some loose bodywork on the car.
Although the Motorbase Performance crew, the squad behind the ORT, got the car back into the race quickly, the time lost ruined any chance of a finish higher than tenth place in the Pro Cup class. Stephen Jelly piloted the car during the third and final hour - taking the chequered flag five laps down. ''There are many positives to take away from this race, even though the result wasn't what we hoped for,'' said Ahmad.
''I had a good start, then I paced myself early on and went past the guys one by one. We had good pace and it was a huge improvement for me, personally, from last year at Paul Ricard. The Muscat-based racer added, ''Finishing tenth in our class isn't what we wanted. It's such a shame a few small things cost us a strong finish. There was no contact [with any other car] and we all drove well. The team did an amazing job and we honestly felt we could achieve a better result. We have learned a lot ahead of the Total 24 Hours in Spa [in Belgium]. So now, our full focus is on that.''
Next on the Blancpain calendar is the season's biggest race, the Total 24 Hours at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, to be held from July 24-27. The ORT's British GT Championship campaign, meanwhile, will also visit Spa- Francorchamps on July 11-12