Blancpain Endurance Cup driver Ahmad Al Harthy heads to Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in the UK this coming weekend, 11th/12th May, for the hotly anticipated second round of the season, where the Omani is focused on making it two Pro-Am podiums from as many races.
Aston Martin racer Al Harthy, who is challenging for his second Pro-Am title this year having won the coveted crown in 2017, started off the current campaign very strongly at Monza in Italy last month and ultimately secured third place in class with team-mates Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc.
Round one of the championship wasn’t without its challenges, far from it, with two punctures during the middle stint of the three-hour race – when Yoluc was at the wheel of the No.97 Aston – spoiling hopes of a possible, and realistic, Pro-Am win.
Oman Racing’s trio had secured class pole position for the first encounter of 2019, and by some margin as well, in very difficult wet conditions in final qualifying at Monza and during the first hour of the race Al Harthy maintained the Pro-Am lead.
Following the unbelievable nightmare of the double puncture in Yoluc’s stint, both he and Eastwood did their very best to undo as much damage as possible – coupled with great pit work from TF Sport, the crew behind Oman Racing – and the reward was third place to get good points on the board.
Notably too, the podium finish was an important history-making one for British automotive giant Aston Martin with the result marking the first rostrum achieved in Blancpain for the latest generation Vantage GT3 car.
“Monza was a very strong weekend for Oman Racing and we’re all absolutely determined to keep the same momentum going at Silverstone this weekend”, said Muscat’s Al Harthy, “To take pole position for the first race of the year was incredible and we really did have a great chance to fight for the win…until that double puncture which was beyond unlucky!
“To be able to salvage third place in Pro-Am after that was credit to everyone, it’s so important to score well in every round of Blancpain Endurance as the championship is by far the most competitive of its kind anywhere in the world. We’re feeling confident ahead of Silverstone, especially as we’ve always gone well there in the past.”
Silverstone, of course, acts very much as an adopted ‘home’ race for Al Harthy with the Omani driver having a long history in the UK throughout his formative career. Starting out in British motor racing back in 2007 in Formula Renault single-seaters, he went on to progress into the one-make Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship where he became Pro-Am1 Champion in 2012
Then moving into endurance racing for the first time in the British GT Championship the following year, Al Harthy claimed more championship glory in 2015 with the Silver Cup crown and it was at Silverstone in 2016 where he achieved his maiden Pro-Am podium in Blancpain Endurance.
“Silverstone has always been one of my favourite tracks, it’s played a huge part in my career over the years and holds lots of special memories for Oman Racing”, he added, “You never underestimate the competition in this championship, and always have to expect the unexpected, but we know how good the car is, how good our team is, so we’re very positive for the weekend.”
Following pre-event testing, free practice takes place on Saturday, 11th May, at 10.40 (local time) with Pre-Qualifying getting underway at 15.40 (local time). On Sunday, 12th May, final qualifying starts at 09.40 (local time) with the race itself beginning at 15.00 (local time).
Live coverage of round two will be streamed online HERE
2019 Blancpain Endurance Cup ‘Pro-Am’ Driver Standings:
3rd Ahmad Al Harthy/Charlie Eastwood/Salih Yoluc, 16pts
Source. Marc Orme/Jakob Ebrey Photography