Oman’s number one racing driver Ahmad Al Harthy heads into the final day of the Blancpain Endurance Cup season in Spain this morning with just one goal squarely in his sights – winning the coveted Pro-Am championship crown for a second time.
Muscat’s Al Harthy, and Oman Racing team-mates Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc, prepared very well for the fifth and final race of the 2019 campaign during free practice and pre-qualifying at the Circuit de Barcelona on Saturday, 28th September, where the squad emerged pleased with its work.
Posting the fifth fastest time in Pro-Am during the 90-minute pre-qualifying session, the full focus was to find the best possible set-up for this morning’s all important final qualifying session and for the three-hour race which begins at 15.00 (local time) later today.
While not targeting out-and-out pace, the National Bank of Oman, Ministry of Sports Affairs, Omantel and Barr Al Jissah liveried No.97 Aston Martin Vantage still delivered a best lap time of 1m47.194 seconds (156.3 km/h) in pre-qualifying to conclude the run just 0.3 seconds shy of the top three in class.
During the earlier free practice, a time of 1m46.162 seconds placed the Oman Racing entry fourth quickest in Pro-Am and just a fraction outside the overall top 20. In the Bronze Test on Friday, 27th September, Al Harthy was third fastest in class.
“We spent practice and pre-qualifying working on trying to get a good set-up and balance for the race and, of course, final qualifying”, said Al Harthy, “Barcelona is a difficult track, so you want the car working as well as possible. We just want to make sure we’re able to be competitive, it’s such an important weekend for Oman Racing.
“It’s a tough weekend for us as we know we need to get a job done, in terms of the championship, so there are so many things to consider and think about. In the end, we’ll see how qualifying goes and try and have a strong race and then, hopefully, be there at the end with a chance of winning our second title in Blancpain. One thing is for sure, we will give it everything we possibly can.”
Heading into today’s championship deciding action, Al Harthy, Eastwood and Yoluc hold a pleasing 16 point advantage at the top of the Pro-Am standings but with a long and challenging three-hour race awaiting around the 4.6-kilometre Spanish track, absolutely nothing is being taken for granted.
While a history-making second championship crown in Pro-Am is Al Harthy’s chief aim, the Omani having won his first Blancpain title in 2017, he is also determined to try and end the 2019 season with a remarkable unbroken run of five podium results.
Starting the season with third place at Monza in Italy, Al Harthy, Eastwood and Yoluc were then second at Silverstone in the UK in round two and third at Paul Ricard in France in round three. Last time out during the championship’s blue riband race, the Total 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium, the trio – joined by fourth driver Nicki Thiim – took a sensational Pro-Am victory from a pitlane start.
Final qualifying for the fifth round of the Blancpain Endurance Cup season will take place at 09.30 (local time) this morning with the three-hour race following 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. Jakob Ebrey Photography