Muscat, MARCH 18 – The father figure of Oman motorsports Ahmad al Harthy hoped to replicate the historic success of 2017 when he announced his 2019 season at the National Bank of Oman (NBO) headquarters on Monday. Delighted to be mounting a challenge in Pro-Am once again, where he and the Oman Racing team won a history-making championship crown in 2017, Al Harthy today confirmed the latest generation Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Oman Racing will once again be run by British squad TF Sport. Al Harthy’s team-mates for the new Blancpain season have also been confirmed with Northern Ireland’s Charlie Eastwood, who raced as part of the squad’s Silver class line-up last year, continuing with Oman Racing.
Salih Yoluc, who was part of the team’s Pro-Am podium finishing line-up in the Total 24 Hours of Spa in 2017, returns to the squad for the full season this year and the Turkish driver will bring additional experience from the FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours.
“We are really looking forward and happy to announce the 2019 season here at NBO. It’s going to be a season full of excitement. It will be the first time after 2017 when we will be looking to win our titles. The 2017 Pro-Am Blancpain Championship was our highest point and our biggest achievement. It will be a chance to come back to this category with our new car and new driver line-up and increased partnership at the NBO,’’ he added.
FIVE BIG RACES
“We will be competing in the Blancpain Endurance Championship. We will be racing in five big races, including the 24 hours of Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, starting in Italy and ending in Barcelona. Our partnership with Aston Martin Racing and Oman Racing continues. More importantly, this is also an occasion to announce my 14th year as the first circuit racer from the country. We want to have great results and new achievements with our new car. We are off to Italy next week for testing,’’ he added.
NEW GENERATION CAR
Importantly, the Ministry of Sports Affairs also continues its long-standing support as a key partner of Al Harthy into 2019 as does Omantel and Barr Al Jissah, completing a strong and highly prestigious sponsorship portfolio once again.
Al Harthy felt 2018 was a tough one and hoped to make the most of the lessons learnt and apply them for the new season.
“The last year was a tough year on the racetrack and the final results were not as desired. But our performance was strong. The car we used last year was a previous generation car, now we have a new generation car. So, we are learning about the new car, doing some pre-season testing,’’ he added.
Al Harthy reminisced about the years gone by but said the hunger and desire to sustain the intensity is very much present.
“Looking 14 years back when I started, this would have been a massive dream. It’s coming true, ticking all the boxes, our progress has been gentle and that’s what we want to do. Keep achieving results and podiums and titles. In all the racing that I have done, winning at Le Mans at the support race, we have got amazing titles, race wins, fastest lap, pole positions. We are extremely hungry as a team and highly motivated. The year 2018 as a season has taught us not to take anything lightly and keep working hard. It will reset us with all the parameters that will set us up,’’ Al Harthy added.
Talking about his target for the new season, Al Harthy was clear about what he was aiming for.
“You know, we want to regain our title. Our two trophies from 2017 is here (at the auditorium) and that is very clear that we are ready to do that again,’’ Al Harthy stated.