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Ahmad Al Harthy and Oman Racing Team achieve podium glory at Gulf 12 Hours race.

Muscat: Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 trio Ahmad Al Harthy, Darren Turner and Jonny Adam celebrated a fantastic podium finish for the Oman Racing Team in the Gulf 12 Hours, after securing an excellent third place result on the team's debut in the annual endurance contest.

Qualifying on pole position thanks to a supreme collective team effort, the Omani entry was in contention for the podium throughout at the spectacular Yas Marina Circuit and ultimately delivered richly deserved silverware for Aston Martin on the manufacturer's maiden outing in the event.

"We are all really happy with the podium, we wanted it so badly and I think third was the best we could have achieved", said a delighted Ahmad, "To qualify on pole position on the team's debut, and for Aston Martin's first ever outing in the Gulf 12 Hours, was an incredible start and to end with a podium finish is testament to the hard work from everyone in the team.

"All of the support we had from Oman here was amazing, it really made the whole event very special and it's great to reward everyone with a podium. I learnt so much from Darren and Jonny, they're both great drivers and we worked very well together. It's been a fantastic experience in Abu Dhabi."

Scottish racer Adam began the opening portion of the race behind the wheel of the Oman Air, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Ooredoo, National Bank of Oman and Al Hashar Group liveried Aston and concluded the first hour in third position just 2.5 seconds adrift of second place. Roughly half of the first 60 minutes was actually spent under caution, though, due to a multi-car accident.

Ahmad took over driving duties in hour two and the Aston Martin Middle East and North Africa Ambassador maintained the top three placing, edging closer to the Mercedes of Khaled Al Qubaisi as the race progressed. While the pair battled, though, they both fell victim to Davide Rigon so slipped to third and fourth respectively.

Continuing to pressure Al Qubaisi, Ahmad managed to make the breakthrough late in the second hour to move up into third but before the second round of pit stops the positions switched again with 34-year-old Ahmad shuffled back to fourth once more.

During the second half of the first six hours, the Oman Racing Team entry continued to challenge hard for the podium and, courtesy of Adam, did move back into the top three but ended the first portion of the race in fourth position.

When the second part of the Gulf 12 Hours got underway a couple of hours later under the Yas Marina floodlights, Turner took the first stint and stayed well within reach of the podium placings as the lead quartet pulled clear of the remainder of the pack.

Racing fell under Safety Car conditions for a second time with around three and a half hours left on the clock and when the action resumed, with Ahmad back at the wheel, he ran strongly before being edged back to third by the charging Rigon.

Holding the podium comfortably into the closing stages, the chequered flag was actually shown 15 minutes early following an incident involving two Ferraris. Officials initially red flagged the action before opting to declare a result with the Oman Racing Team celebrating a superb podium finish -- a fantastic way to conclude its 2015 motorsport programme.

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Dec 12, 2015
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