MUSCAT, Nov 28 – Oman’s star endurance race car driver Ahmad al Harthy said there are some interesting things on the table for next season after his twin title success this season. “This year was really a career high-point for me. To have four podium finishes in five races were really satisfying and exciting.” Oman’s number one racing driver’s remarkable season included one Pro-Am victory and three other podiums finishes from the five endurance races contested and culminated in winning the 2017 Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am driver and team championships.
Speaking about the coming season at an interactive session organised by National Bank of Oman, Al Harthy said he wants to take the success further, and bigger opportunities are on the table.
“There are some opportunities before us now and we will decide whichever suits our team and also a best progression for us.”
On his best moments this season, Ahmad said hearing the national anthem of Oman for the first time in a major Formula One circuit was really special. “At the first race in Monza, it was really special to hear the Oman national anthem as I achieved my maiden Pro-Am victory this season.”
“It was a prefect kickoff for me and my team Oman Racing.”
Another memorable moment was racing at the 24 hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. “Earlier, out of four times only once I have managed to finish the 24 Hours of Spa racing. That finish was like winning.”
“This year it was an incredible feeling as I managed to secure the second position on the podium and ensured that we will clinch the titles with one race to spare.”
Back from the special awards event in Paris, the champion racer said Oman is now instantly recognised in the sport.
“After 10 years in the circuit, the most satisfying thing for me is that Oman has got an address in the GT endurance racing circuit across the world.”
“As far as my sponsors are also concerned, I have a big presence of Omani institutions and that is really encouraging.”
On the technical aspects, Ahmad said his association with TF Sport was really fruitful and his campaign this year was lot smoother and sound than the previous years.
“We have kept faith in our Aston Martin car and made a positive switch for more speed and accuracy.”
Al Harthy complimented co-driver Jonny Adam saying that the Briton had a great influence in him reaching the glory. “Jonny was a real influence during the races. He won with me and we made a great team.”
On another question, Ahmad said it is great that more young racers are making their mark.
“With my experience in the field for 10 years, I try to guide them whenever possible. This would be regarding their career and team moves and a case in example is Al Faisal al Zubair. It was heartening to see two Omanis compete in the recent Porsche GT3 Super Cup Middle East race in Bahrain. Al Faisal and Khalid al Wahaibi, who came up through karting, made a strong Oman presence at the race.”
He also had words of appreciation for Abdullah al Rawahi and 13-year-old Shihab al Habsi.
On a query on expanding his Oman Racing team with the younger racers of the country, he said it is up to the right time and opportunity. “There are some youngsters now who are making a mark in racing. We need to increase the number and then the country should be able to produce a pool of racers and that is a time we need a top-class racing circuit also,” Ahmad concluded.
Speaking later, Ahmed al Musalmi, CEO of NBO, said: “National Bank of Oman is delighted to congratulate Ahmad on a spectacular season, which culminated in winning Europe’s toughest championship. We are proud to have him as a brand ambassador, and his amazing success is an inspiration to us and everyone across the Sultanate.”