Seven long months since Ahmad Al Harthy and Oman Racing secured a career-best Blancpain Endurance Cup top four championship finish, the eagerly awaited 2017 season gets underway this coming weekend, 22nd/23rd April, at the Italian cathedral of motorsport – Monza.
As for the past three years, Muscat 35-year-old Al Harthy will pilot a glorious Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 in the world’s biggest and best GT championship and is joined once again by double, and reigning, British GT Champion Jonny Adam.
Additionally, Al Harthy enjoys wonderful continuity in terms of his commercial backing with key sponsors Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Air, National Bank of Oman, Omantel and Barr Al Jissah all part of the 2017 programme along with prestigious new partner Amouage.
There has been one change since last season though, with British squad TF Sport now coming onboard as the engineering strength – Tom Ferrier’s outfit bolstering Al Harthy’s strong links with the Aston Martin brand in Oman Racing’s 10th anniversary season in motorsport.
Going into this coming weekend’s championship curtain-raiser at Monza, the Omani is as confident as he ever has been at the beginning of a Blancpain season and especially after a strong run during the official pre-season test at Paul Ricard in France last month.
“We’re looking forward to the first race meeting of the 2017 season, I’m really happy how things are developing with Jonny and the team”, said a very buoyant Al Harthy, “Everything feels great, the car is fantastic and everyone is working very well together – I can’t wait for Monza.
“It’s always difficult to judge where everyone is during the pre-season, even after the official test, but we feel comfortable with our own package and confident we can have a strong start to the championship. We want the first race to end well, obviously, and get as many points on the board as we can. It’s very important to make a consistent start to the season.”
Autodromo Nazionale Monza is the long-established starting point on the Blancpain Endurance Cup calendar each year and is a track where Al Harthy has performed very well. On his first outing there in 2013, driving a Porsche 997 GT3R for his Blancpain debut, he led the GTC class and only missed out on a potential challenge for class victory due to gearbox problems.
Unfortunate electrical issues the following year, his first with Aston Martin, scuppered hopes of a top 10 finish but last season, with Adam and then team-mate Devon Modell, the Oman Racing entry posted a strong top four Pro-Am finish. More of the same would be most welcome this weekend.
Opening free practice at Monza on Saturday, 22nd April, will get underway at 10.45 (local time) with pre-qualifying set to follow at 16.05 (local time).
On Sunday, 23rd April, final qualifying will begin at 09.50 (local time) with round one of the season timetabled for 14.45 (local time). All of Sunday’s track action will be streamed live online HERE
Source. Marc Orme