Monza debut for Oman Racing Team

Monza debut for Oman Racing Team

09.04.2014: The Oman Racing Team will make its debut competitive appearance in the Blancpain

The Oman Racing Team will make its debut competitive appearance in the Blancpain Endurance Series this coming weekend (April 12/13) as the Motorbase-run squad commences its 2014 campaign at Italy’s world-famous Monza circuit.

Sunday’s three hour race is set to make spectacular viewing with 44 cars from the world’s most prestigious marques confirmed for the opening round of the season; with the new Oman Racing Team Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 lined up alongside them.

“I’ve only ever been to Monza once and this will be the first time we have gone as a team,” commented Motorbase boss David Bartrum. “It’s a lovely circuit in a beautiful parkland setting. It’s a very challenging race track and it is very fast. We’ve not been there testing, so we have no real benchmark. Ahmad and Stephen both raced there last year. Michael can test on Friday afternoon and if that is dry it will be very useful running for us.”

Team principal David Bartrum recently confirmed the expanded Motorbase GT squad for the 2014 season that sees former BTCC and sports car racer Stephen Jelley joining the returning partnership of Michael Caine and Ahmad Al Harthy, where all three drivers will be competing in the Pro Cup category in the new Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 for the first time.

“It will be mega: it’ll be like Santa Pod with some corners!” said Michael Caine. “It is a fantastic place with an amazing history and atmosphere. It will be our first race in the Aston Martin and it will be very challenging with such a high quality grid. We’re going there to do as well as we possibly can.

“It will be great to race at Monza with Ahmad and all the guys at Motorbase. We’ve got Stephen Jelley in the car as well, so we’ll each do around an hour of the race. We just need to make sure we get a good result at Monza and then build on that.”

Following a successful pre-season testing programme, the Oman Racing Team is upbeat about the opening round.  Ahmad and Stephen both have experience on the demanding Monza circuit having raced there in previous seasons, and are confident that the Aston Martin Vantage V12 should perform well.

“I raced at Monza last year,” said Ahmad Al Harthy. “I did all the Blancpain rounds last year and it was always the plan to use the season as a real test ahead of this year. Hopefully that experience will make me stronger as a driver.

“I’m really looking forward to racing the Aston Martin at Monza. There is a lot of history to the circuit and the track deserves a lot of respect: it’s a really fast and flowing track. It’s going to be very competitive and it will be very tough even to get into the top 10. I’ve tested the Aston at all the circuits we have been to and there is a lot for us all to learn about the car.”

“The first race weekend of the season is always one to look forward to,” added Stephen Jelley. “We should do well at Monza, our pre-season testing has gone well and everything points to us having a good weekend. I’ve raced at Monza in the Blancpain for the past two years and I know Ahmad raced there last season so we have good experience of the circuit and I think we’ll be ok.

“The Blancpain circuits should suit the Aston. Although, you never really know until you start racing and everyone shows their cards, but we have every reason to be positive.”

Saturday (April 12) sees the weekend’s action get underway with free practice and qualifying, before the first three hour race of the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series season commences at 12:45 GMT on Sunday (April 13) with live race day coverage streamed on the official championship website:

Circuit info:

Track: Autodromo Nazionale
Lap Record: 1:50.414
Circuit Length: 5.793mi
Number of Corners: 10

 - Nicki Hickman, photos BES


09.04.2014 / MaP

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