AL HARTHY SECURES SIXTH PODIUM WITH LAST LAP THRILLER Ahmad Al Harthy raced to his sixth podium of the 2010 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit this afternoon, Saturday, 9th October, during the penultimate round of...
AL HARTHY SECURES SIXTH PODIUM WITH LAST LAP THRILLER
Ahmad Al Harthy raced to his sixth podium of the 2010 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit this afternoon, Saturday, 9th October, during the penultimate round of the season -- a fantastic final lap pass giving him a well deserved third place finish in the Pro-Am 1 Class.
Qualifying a highly competitive third in Pro-Am 1, less than three 10ths of a second shy of the class pole position, the Omani driver held on to the place ahead of season-long rival Tony Gilham at the start and soaked up immense pressure for the entirety of the 34-lap encounter.
The top four Pro-Am 1 competitors -- Ollie Jackson, Jonas Gelzinis, Al Harthy and Gilham -- ran nose to tail throughout the race and at mid-distance a mere 0.5 seconds separated Ahmad from second position as he fought to hold on to third in his Oman Air, National Bank of Oman, Nawras, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs and Brand Oman sponsored Porsche.
Near-contact from a backmarker at Graham Hill Bend on lap 23 gave Ahmad a shaky moment and almost opened up a golden opportunity for Gilham to pass. But the 29-year-old held on strongly into Surtees as he, Gilham and Pro Class driver Michael Caine ran three abreast.
Six laps later, Gilham mounted a successful attack along Cooper Straight after getting good drive out of Graham Hill Bend. Ahmad wasn't to be denied though and after sizing up a possible overtake on the penultimate lap, the Redline Racing driver sliced back past Gilham with a dramatic last lap move to take a thoroughly deserved podium.
At the line a mere 0.1 seconds separated the pair with Gelzinis and new champion Jackson just over a second further ahead, perhaps the closest finish in Pro-Am 1 all season. In addition, Ahmad's fastest lap of the race, 47.735 seconds, was within less than 0.2 seconds of Gelzinis' class best.
After round 19, Ahmad said: "I wasn't letting that podium go for anything! We've come too far this year for me to let a small mistake cost me a podium. I knew I had the pace and I was stronger than him (Gilham) it was just a matter of hooking everything up. I set the move up the lap before, I knew exactly where I was going to put the car on that final lap and it worked out.
"It's so important to be on the podium at the final event of the season, I've got fans here who have travelled all the way from Oman to watch me race so this is for them. I dedicate this to all of the guys who have been supporting me this year, my amazing sponsors, and I also want to say a special thank you to the Minister of Sports Affairs, H.E. Eng. Ali Bin Masud Al Sunaidi. I hope we can be on the podium again tomorrow!"
The final race of the 2010 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship, round 20, will take place at 14.45 tomorrow, Sunday, 10th October, and will be screened live in the UK on Freeview, cable and digital satellite channel ITV4. Ahmad will again start the encounter third in the Pro-Am 1 Class.
2010 Porsche Carrera Cup GB 'Pro-Am1' Class Standings (after Rd19): Champion: Ollie Jackson, 189pts; 4th Ahmad Al Harthy, 102pts