Former Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am Champion Ahmad Al Harthy is just one race away from potentially claiming his second title in the world’s biggest GT3 category – and the Omani racer is far from complacent going into the final round of the season in Barcelona this coming Sunday, 29th September.
Heading to the Circuit de Catalunya later this week, the Sultanate’s number one racing driver carries a 16 point Pro-Am lead into the Blancpain finale along with 2019 Oman Racing team-mates Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc.
It has been a lengthy eight weeks since the penultimate race of the campaign, the immense Total 24 Hours of Spa, in which the Aston Martin squad produced a performance of colossal proportions to win the twice-round-the-clock spectacular for the first time.
Enabling Al Harthy and his team-mates to extend their lead in the Pro-Am standings, the victory was far from straightforward with the National Bank of Oman, Ministry of Sports Affairs, Omantel and Barr Al Jissah liveried No.97 Aston Martin Vantage having to begin the encounter from the pitlane.
Facing an incredible challenge, a race which featured torrential rain and also a stoppage for nearly six hours due to the severity of the conditions, Al Harthy, Eastwood, Yoluc and fourth driver Nicki Thiim did the unthinkable by storming through the huge 72-car field to claim class victory.
Along with outstanding driving, tremendous teamwork in the pit-stops by the TF Sport crew which prepare the Oman Racing entry was a key feature of the eventual success with a consistently competitive team effort making all the difference.
As well as a landmark moment in Al Harthy’s stunning career, the win was also history-making for Aston Martin as the marque’s maiden class success in the blue riband Blancpain race. Added to that, the result came during the week when the Sultanate of Oman celebrated Renaissance Day – marking the 49th year of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said’s reign.
Going into the three-hour fifth and final round this coming weekend in Spain, Muscat sportsman Al Harthy is determined to seize the opportunity to try and claim his second Pro-Am Blancpain crown in just three years – but he knows nothing can be taken for granted, and nor will it be.
“I can’t believe we’re almost at the end of another season, it’s been an amazing year so far for all of us at Oman Racing and everyone is determined to cap an incredible 2019 with another title”, said Al Harthy, “We’ve been racing for long enough at this level to know there are so many factors outside your control though, so none of us are complacent and we’ll inject 100% effort as we always do.
“Spa was an unbelievable weekend, an absolute dream come true for me personally, the team and all of my amazing sponsors. The performance was beyond anything we honestly thought possible from a pitlane start, to win the 24 hours is an achievement I’ve wanted on my CV for so long.”
Al Harthy added: “We have a good points lead going into Barcelona but we can’t rely on that, we need to make sure we deliver the same consistency and reliability which has been the key feature of our challenge in Pro-Am this season. It would be absolutely fantastic to try and end the season with five podiums from five endurance races, but the championship is obviously our prime focus.”
Oman Racing began the 2019 season with a third place finish in Pro-Am at Monza in Italy before charging to second position during the UK round at Silverstone. In the third event of the year, the six-hour ‘into the night’ race at Paul Ricard in France, the team was third again before taking its headline-grabbing victory at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium at the end of July.
Following initial practice at the Circuit de Catalunya on Friday, 27th September, and further free practice on Saturday, 28th September, pre-qualifying will take place at 15.05 (local time) later that afternoon.
On Sunday, 29th September, final qualifying is set to begin at 09.30 (local time) with the race itself scheduled to start at 15.00 (local time). Live coverage will be streamed online HERE
2019 Blancpain Endurance Cup ‘Pro-Am’ Driver Standings:
1st Ahmad Al Harthy/Charlie Eastwood/Salih Yoluc, 104pts
2019 Blancpain Endurance Cup ‘Pro-Am’ Team Standings:
1st Oman Racing, 104pts
Source. Marc Orme/Photo. The Editor