Ahmad eyes new ‘Silverwares’

Oman racing star Ahmad al Harthy will focus on the newly launched Silver Cup Championship in the prestigious Blancpain Endurance Championship this season.
Outlining his programme for 2018, the reigning Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am Champion, is all excited to compete in the higher category of Silver Cup with drivers only with Silver grade will rub shoulders.
“It will be a highly competitive category with only drivers with Silver grade getting the entrance. We, Oman Racing, are confident about a successful campaign,” Ahmad said at the Barr Al Jissah resort in Muscat on Monday.
This will be the last year with Aston Martin race car and the Muscat sports hero is determined to give them a winning send off.
“It will be our final season with the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 car and I hope to give a perfect send off to the team,” Ahmad said.
Returning to the world’s biggest GT endurance racing championship for a sixth season, Ahmad’s driver grading having been changed from Bronze to Silver following last year’s title win.
Oman Racing’s entry will once again be engineered and prepared by British squad TF Sport, with a three driver line-up confirmed for the new campaign. Joining Al Harthy will be Euan McKay, who contested one event with Oman Racing last year, and team newcomer Charlie Eastwood.
Al Harthy said: “We come into 2018 off the back of an absolutely incredible season last year for Oman Racing. To win the Pro-Am championship in Blancpain was a dream come true, especially in the 10th anniversary year of Oman Racing. It was the culmination of so much hard work.
“Now we have an exciting new challenge awaiting us this year and it’s one we’re all very much looking forward to. As ever, the level of competition is going to be extremely high and the Silver Cup will be a very closely contested championship. It’s important for me to continue to progress, so racing in the Silver Cup is another step-up made possible by my incredible partners.”
Having been partnered by Aston Martin ‘works’ driver Jonny Adam to the memorable Pro-Am championship triumph last year, the next chapter of Al Harthy’s Blancpain career now opens with two new team-mates.
Euan McKay and Charlie Eastwood both make the move into full-time GT endurance racing from the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship, where Al Harthy himself was Pro-Am1 Champion in 2012. While McKay isn’t completely new to the Oman Racing team, he competed with the squad in the Gulf 12 Hours in December, Eastwood – the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Champion — debuts.
“Euan obviously raced with the team in the Gulf 12 Hours last year and he did a fantastic job on our way to a podium finish, so it’s wonderful he is with us for the full season in Blancpain”, added Al Harthy, “Charlie more than proved his talent in Porsche Carrera Cup GB, so I’m really looking forward to racing with him. I think we have a very strong, competitive and exciting driver line-up.”
Sponsors renew support
Al Harthy revealed an unchanged portfolio of prestigious sponsors for the 2018 season, spearheaded by the Ministry of Sports Affairs and Oman Air — the latter entering its landmark 10th year of partnership with the Muscat racing driver.
Also remaining a key part of Al Harthy’s motorsport programme will be the National Bank of Oman, Omantel, Barr Al Jissah and Amouage.
Commenting on Ministry of Sports Affairs’ continued partnership with Al Harthy, Fahad al Raisi, Director-General of Sports Development at the Ministry, said: “Once more we are very proud to offer key support to Ahmad and Oman Racing, especially after such an amazing season last year. Our long-standing partnership has been very beneficial for all involved and we’re extremely happy to extend our support as Ahmad again flies the flag for Oman.”
On behalf of Oman Air, Usama Karim al Haremi, Head of Corporate Communications and Media, said: “We are proud to say 2018 marks the 10th year Oman Air has been an integral part of Ahmad’s motorsport programme. He is an incredible ambassador for our brand and winning the Pro-Am title last year was a fantastic achievement. Once again we will work together to promote Oman as a key destination for tourists and business travellers from all over our network, while also working closely to invest in the future of Oman.”
National Bank of Oman’s John Chang, General Manager and Chief Retail Officer, said: “We are proud to be extending our partnership with Ahmad for another year and continuing to build on our nine-year long relationship. Ahmad has played an instrumental role in championing the aspirations of youth and, together, we hope to inspire generations to follow their dreams and lead with values of integrity, passion, discipline, perseverance, responsibility and corporate citizenship. We had a successful 2017 and cannot wait for the new season to begin.”
Speaking on behalf of Omantel, Said Salim al Shanfari, General-Manager Marketing Communications and Performance, said: “We are pleased to renew our partnership with the national racing champion Ahmad Al Harthy. Omantel has always been in support of Omani talents and we take great pride to see him shining in this kind of championship.”
Firas Matraji, CEO from Barr Al Jissah, added: “Once again we are extremely proud to be the host venue for the official launch of Ahmad’s racing programme for the coming season, it’s incredibly exciting to continue our partnership after such a successful year last year with the championship victory. We both share a very strong desire to promote all Oman has to offer, for business and tourism.”
Luxury niche fragrance house Amouage remains a key sponsor for a second season. David Crickmore, CEO, commented: “What a year 2017 was, our first as an official partner of Ahmad Al Harthy and Oman Racing. Our sponsorship of Ahmad enables us to provide our major clients the exclusive opportunity of experiencing the buzz and adrenaline rush of international motor racing at first hand. We’re delighted to continue our support of Ahmad into 2018 and we wish him and Oman Racing every success – we hope he returns home again as the champion of the series.”
Oman Racing will travel to Paul Ricard in France next week for the official pre-season Blancpain Endurance Cup test days on March 13 and 14. Round one of the new season will then follow on 21st/22nd April at Monza in Italy.

2018 Blancpain Endurance Cup Calendar
Rd1 Monza, Italy – April 21-22
Rd2 Silverstone, UK – May 19-20
Rd3 Paul Ricard, France – June 1-2
Rd4 Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium – July 26,27,28,29 (Total 24 Hours of Spa)
Rd5 Barcelona, Spain – September 29-30
Official Pre-Season Test: Paul Ricard, France – March 13-14
Official Total 24 Hours of Spa Test: Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium – July 3