Oman Racing and Ahmad Al Harthy made a highly competitive start to preparations for this year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa during the official test day for the twice-round-the-clock encounter in Belgium on Tuesday, 3rd July, with the fourth fastest time in the Silver Cup class.
Relishing being back at world renowned Spa Francorchamps for the test day, which featured an immense combined entry across all classes of 66 GT3 cars, Muscat driver Al Harthy was very happy indeed with team’s pace and overall performance with just over three weeks to go to the big race.
Acting as the fourth round of the Blancpain Endurance Cup season, the 70th edition of the Total 24 Hours of Spa is undoubtedly the biggest and most prestigious race for GT3 cars in the world and is an event in which 2017 Pro-Am Champion Al Harthy has enjoyed good success.
During yesterday morning’s test run at Spa, where the Middle Eastern sportsman was joined by regular team-mates Charlie Eastwood and Euan McKay, the No.97 Aston Martin V12 Vantage ended the three-hour session fourth quickest in the Silver Cup class and an impressive 18th fastest overall with a best lap of 2m20.935 seconds – just 0.5 seconds shy of the Silver Cup pace.
In the afternoon, the Oman Racing trio remained within half a second of the quickest Silver Cup time with a lap of 2m20.926 seconds to close the five-hour session fourth in class once again, 26th fastest overall from the 66-car entry.
“It was a really good day for us, we had some good running in the morning and afternoon and it’s always a special feeling to be on track at Spa”, said Al Harthy, who is sponsored by Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Air, National Bank of Oman, Omantel, Barr Al Jissah and Amouage, “Everything went very smoothly, the track was very hot in the afternoon and we had very consistent race pace.
“It’s always important to try and make sure everything goes to plan, which it did so we’re very happy. That’s not always the case, of course, but we managed to tick all of the boxes, work on things like our comfort in the car and make sure we’re prepared as well as we can be for the 24 Hour.”
It has also been confirmed this week Al Harthy, Eastwood and McKay, who are currently fourth in the Silver championship standings in the Blancpain Endurance Cup, will be joined for the Total 24 Hours of Spa at the end of the month by British racer Ross Gunn.
Expanding the Oman Racing entry to four drivers for the longest race of the season, Gunn became an Aston Martin ‘factory’ driver in 2016, having won the British GT4 Championship the previous year, and has been competing with the marque in the European Le Mans Series. Last month at the Le Mans 24 Hours, Gunn emerged victorious in the Aston Martin Racing Festival support race.
“We’re delighted to welcome Ross to the team”, added Al Harthy, “He’s a very quick young driver, has already accomplished a lot, and it’s fantastic for Oman Racing to have another factory driver from Aston Martin as part of the team. We believe we have a very strong line-up and we’re all looking forward to being back at Spa in a few weeks for the big race.”
Build-up for the Total 24 Hours of Spa will begin on Wednesday, 25th July, with the annual parade of race cars into the city centre of Spa. On Thursday, 26th July, practice will precede pre-qualifying and four qualifying sessions plus a night-time practice. On Friday, 27th July, the final Super Pole session will be held before the Total 24 Hours of Spa itself begins at 16.30 (local time) on Saturday, 28th July.
Blancpain Endurance Cup ‘Silver Cup’ Driver Standings:
4th Ahmad Al Harthy/Euan McKay/Charlie Eastwood, 35pts
Source. Marc Orme/Photo. Jakob Ebrey Photography