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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 08/05/2013

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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) British GT Championship racer Ahmad al Harthy and his Oman Air Motorbase teammate Michael Caine survived a dramatic third round of the 2013 season at Rockingham, in Northamptonshire, UK, on Monday to finish a commendable sixth.

Despite a drive-through penalty early on, which dropped Ahmad to the tail, and a puncture to the Porsche 997 GTR 3 during the final 15 minutes of the race when Caine was running in the top five, the pair managed to salvage points from the race.

The Trackspeed pair of Gregor Fisken and Richard Westbrook on their Porsche 997 GTR 3 won the race while the M-Sport Racing duo of Rembert Berg and Warren Hughes finished runner-up in their Audi R8 LMS Ultra.

''It was certainly a race full of drama,'' Ahmad said after the race. ''Without the incident on lap one and then the puncture, we would have been right up there near the front. The team did a great job with the car.''

Beginning the first of the two-hour races from 15th on the grid, 31 year old Ahmad took the first 60-minute stint.

After making a quick getaway, things looked promising until contact at the third corner pitched the Omani racer off the circuit and onto the grass.

As his spinning Porsche came back onto the circuit, race officials decided to penalise Ahmad for joining the track in a dangerous manner'.

The subsequent drive-through penalty dropped him to the end of the 30-car field.

Mounting an impressive recovery, Ahmad fought his way back into the middle order and as the pit-stops started, he advanced to seventh before handing the car over to Caine.

The British GT champion rejoined the race after the pit-stop in the 15th place.

Caine reeled off some impressive laps as he fought his way into the points-paying positions.

Battling through into fifth position with just 15 minutes remaining, Caine was dealt a blow when the Porsche sustained a puncture.

Pitting for fresh rubber, the car ventured back out onto the track in ninth place and Caine was able to climb into seventh on the penultimate lap.

After the race, one of the Aston Martins was penalised for an indiscretion and Ahmad and Caine were elevated to sixth.

Ahmad said, ''We had a good start to the race, but then, at turn three, I was hit by one of the BMW Z4s and got spun out. My car came back onto the circuit, but then I was given a penalty that I felt was harsh. After that, we were last and I just pushed as hard as I could.''

The Muscat-based endurance racer added, ''After I handed the car over to Michael, he did a fantastic job and got us high up into the points. But then we had that puncture. Honestly, if not for the problems we encountered, we could have challenged for the podium.''

There is now a three-week break in the British GT Championship calendar with the year's fourth round, a three-hour contest, slated for May 26 at the Silverstone GP Circuit in Northamptonshire.

Results (third round): 1 Gregor Fisken and Richard Westbrook (Trackspeed), 2 Rembert Berg and Warren Hughes (M-Sport Racing), 3 Mark Patterson and Matt Bell (United Autosports), 4 Jason Minshaw and Benji Hetherington (Fortec Motorsports), 5 Gary Eastwood and Rob Barff (FF Course), 6 Ahmad al Harthy and Michael Caine (Oman Air Motorbase), 7 Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam (Beechdean AMR), 8 Derek Johnston and Jake Rattenbury (Mtech), 9 Gregoire Demoustier and Duncan Tappy (Von Ryan Racing), 10 Shaun Balfe and Tommy Erdos (Balfe Motorsp


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