DONINGTON PODIUM TANTALISINGLY CLOSE FOR AL HARTHY Omani racing driver Ahmad Al Harthy came within just 0.4 seconds of the Pro-Am 1 Class podium at Donington Park this afternoon, Sunday, 19th September, during the 18th round of the 2010 Porsche...
DONINGTON PODIUM TANTALISINGLY CLOSE FOR AL HARTHY
Omani racing driver Ahmad Al Harthy came within just 0.4 seconds of the Pro-Am 1 Class podium at Donington Park this afternoon, Sunday, 19th September, during the 18th round of the 2010 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship.
Having performed well throughout the weekend in testing and qualifying, the 29-year-old Muscat based driver started today's pair of races fourth in class and in the end that's where he finished in each encounter too.
Round 18 produced the most competitive drive from Ahmad, a fantastic start enabling him to shoot alongside fellow Pro-Am 1 competitor Tony Gilham before grabbing third in class from the former Volkswagen Racing Cup Champion around the outside at Redgate Corner.
Keeping the vastly more experienced Gilham at bay and running in a tight Pro-Am 1 battle with class leaders Ollie Jackson and Jonas Gelzinis just ahead, Ahmad looked well placed to achieve a deserved podium finish. On lap six though, a slight mistake at Redgate gave Gilham the opportunity to retake third place on the run through Hollywood and down into the daunting Craner Curves.
Although slipping three seconds behind Gilham, Ahmad set about reeling his rival back in and over the final half dozen laps he closed the gap down to just a few 10ths of a second in his Oman Air, National Bank of Oman, Nawras, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs and Brand Oman liveried car.
On lap 21, he had the gap down to 1.2 seconds but over the next 1.98 miles Ahmad closed to within less than half a second. Pushing hard to make one last attempt at unseating Gilham from the last podium place, Ahmad just missed out on the final tour by a mere 0.472 seconds.
Such was the competitiveness of the Pro-Am 1 class today, Ahmad's fastest race lap of 1m09.990 seconds in round 18 was a mere 0.150 seconds shy of Gelzinis' quickest. In addition, the Omani racer's consistency was impressive too -- something he's very pleased with.
Commenting on round 18, he said: "My starts have been very good this weekend, I'm really happy with how I've been getting the car off the line and that put me in a good position in the fight for the class podium in race two especially. I've been really pleased with my consistency too.
"I made a slight mistake which allowed (Tony) Gilham to get a run on me and then I needed two or three laps to get my rhythm back. As soon as I did, I was able to get my lap times back down again and I told myself to push hard every lap, like I was on a qualifier. I caught Gilham really well and got the gap right down -- with one more lap, I think we could have done it!"
This morning's 17th round resulted in a fourth place Pro-Am 1 finish too although Ahmad's pace did suffer with what later transpired to be a slow puncture. Rising into second in class on the first lap, he held the place well but on lap five at McLeans he slipped to fourth after locking-up the brakes.
Unaware he had a slow puncture, the Redline Racing driver pressed on but he wasn't able to keep pace with the top three in Pro-Am 1 for obvious reasons and had to settle for fourth -- working hard to fend off the attentions of Andrew Shelley behind.
"We found out after the first race I had a slow puncture which obviously made everything clear as to why I started to struggle more with the car", said Ahmad, "With that in mind, to stay fourth in class was good and the team and I were pleased with the pace I was able to run. Overall it's been a good weekend and now I'm looking forward to the return to Brands Hatch for the last two rounds."
Ahmad now has three weeks to wait for the finale of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship which will take place at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, Kent, over the weekend 9th/10th October.