Three out of three podiums for Oman Racing with TF Sport in Blancpain GT Series
Oman Racing with TF Sport sealed their third podium of the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup at Paul Ricard on Saturday, to move within eleven points of the title lead.
Ahmad Al Harthy, Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood combined in qualifying to produce a 1:54:185 to secure their third pole position in a row.
Salih took the wheels of the Aston Martin for the first stint, opting to take the evening's early hours. With the grid nearing 50 entrants, the start was always going to be tricky and the Turkish driver slipped down to third place in class avoiding the carnage that consumed the opening lap.
After an early safety car that led the pack for ten minutes, Salih maintained his position before managing a full course yellow for an incident with the #55 Audi, which resulted in another safety car.
This instigated the first round of pitstops and Salih re-joined in fifth in class with the two – new – class leaders yet to pit. By lap 27 he was promoted to second in class and P22 overall after those who hadn’t pitted under the previous full course yellow made their way in.
Ahmad jumped into the Vantage on lap 45 and slotted back into the race where Salih left it. With the sun coming down, visibility was difficult and another safety car was brought out on lap 54 with the #33 Ferrari running off track.
Struggling for grip Ahmad span off and clipped the tyre wall as a result. Fortunately for the #97 he was able to continue and re-joined the track in the class lead after the AF Corse had entered the pits.
Two unexpected pit-stops for potential flat tyres dropped the team from the class lead back into third place. But despite the time lost, Ahmad put in a solid stint before handing over the GT3 to Charlie for the final two-hour job.
With the championship fight hotting up, Charlie begun chasing down the Ram Racing in front. What had begun as a 49 second lead had been brought down to 17 seconds within 25 laps by the Irishman.
By the time the team made their final stop and managed another safety car, they were behind the Mercedes on track albeit with a chunk of time between them. Although their pace suggested winning honours, the Oman Racing with TF Sport team came home in third place with the lead of the drivers’ championship.