By Anuroop Athiparambath — MUSCAT: Feb 15 – Omani racing star Ahmed al Harthy believes consistency is the key in the tough endurance races.
Unveiling his schedule for 2017, Al Harthy hopes for a even better performance this year from the fourth place last year. “It has been a memorable and eventful 10 years of circuit racing for me. I have a learned a lot and look forward to much more challenge every year. The key for my team is to be consistent. We are ready for the season with good preparation,” he said during a function on Wednesday at Barr Al Jissah resort in Muscat.
The successful racer confirmed his participation in the Blancpain Endurance Cup with Oman Racing and Aston Martin.
High among Ahmad’s priority with be the ‘Pro-Am’ title bid in the ultra-competitive Blancpain Endurance Cup which gets underway at Monza, Italy, in April.
“This year, we celebrate 10 years of Oman Racing (rebranded from the earlier Oman Racing Team) and what better way to do that than by revealing our most exciting season yet,” said Ahmad.
For the first time, Oman Racing also conducted a pre-season unveiling of the race car. “I’m thrilled to be racing with Jonny [Adam] as my team-mate again and, of course, with Aston Martin,” Ahmad said.
The 35-year-old will continue tie up with Aston Martin, again piloting an Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 during the season. The Omani will be partnered throughout 2017 by ‘works’ driver Jonny Adam who has been an integral part of Oman Racing for the past two years.
New for this season, the Oman Racing entry will be run by reigning British GT champions TF Sport and, in addition to the Blancpain Endurance Cup commitments, the squad will also participate in the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup support race to the Le Mans 24 Hours in June and also in December’s Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi. Team-mates for the longest races of the season, the aforementioned Abu Dhabi contest, the Paul Ricard six-hour in France in late June and the annual Total 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium, will be confirmed in due course.
“Oman Racing’s new partnership with TF Sport is the start of a fresh chapter and we’re determined to mount a very strong challenge in Blancpain this year. I am also extremely excited to be taking part in the Le Mans 24 Hours support race and to be returning to the Gulf 12 Hours. I must say a huge thank you to my incredible sponsors for making Oman Racing such a key part of their plans too,” Al Harthy added.
Scottish racer Adam, who won the 2015 and 2016 British GT Championship drivers titles, also helped Oman Racing to a top four finish in the Pro-Am standings in the Blancpain Endurance Cup last year, including a memorable second place result in round two at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit.
The 32-year-old said: “I’m very happy to be part of Oman Racing’s programme again for 2017 and delighted to be continuing the partnership with Ahmad, which has developed very well over the last couple of years. The Aston Martin Vantage GT3 is a competitive package in the Blancpain Endurance Cup and from the success TF Sport had in 2016, it looks set to be a very exciting year for Oman Racing.”
TF Sport Director Tom Ferrier said: “We have already done the unveiling of the race car. So this season we have more time to go for testing of the car and the training.”
“This is a hugely exciting programme for TF Sport. The Blancpain GT Series is the toughest GT3 platform in Europe and we relish the chance of competing for honours in the Pro-Am class. Ahmad comes with years of experience in the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 and has proven his mettle in Blancpain over the last few years.”
“TF Sport is really looking forward to working with Ahmad and Oman Racing and also exploring the motorsport opportunities that exist in Oman. We have some great partners on board and I am really flattered we have another car in another championship that I believe can bring us more success.”
SPONSORS CONTINUE SUPPORT
Crucial to the success of Ahmad’s motor racing programme is the backing of his long-standing portfolio of sponsors and, for 2017, the Ministry of Sports Affairs once again provides support to Oman Racing.
Oman Air maintains its presence for a ninth consecutive year while the National Bank of Oman (NBO), Omantel, and Barr Al Jissah all remain as an integral part of the Muscat racer’s impressive group of commercial partners.
Notably, ahead of the new season, Ahmad gets additional support from brand new sponsor Amouage, the luxury fragrance house, which has been internationally renowned for almost 35 years.
On behalf of the Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Fahad al Raisi said: “We are very proud to support Ahmad and Oman Racing once again in 2017, our long-standing partnership has been hugely successful and we are delighted Ahmad is again flying the flag for Oman on the international sporting stage.”
Mohamed al Shikely, Vice President Marketing of Oman Air, said: “Oman Air has been proud to support Ahmad’s motorsport programme for many years now, this year being the ninth of our successful partnership, and we are relishing the new season.”
Speaking on behalf of NBO, John Chang, said: “We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with Ahmad al Harthy and Oman Racing and we look forward to seeing the team achieve even more success in the future.”
Hamdan Moosa al Harasi, Acting Vice-President Corporate Strategy at Omantel, said the continuation of the renewed partnership is key to Omantel’s strategy of supporting Omani talents.
Firas Matraji, CEO of Barr Al Jissah, said: “Not only are we very proud to be the host venue for today’s launch of Oman Racing’s new motor racing programme, Barr Al Jissah is delighted to be supporting Ahmad’s challenge again this year and making the most of those links to promote all Oman has to offer.”
Amouage CEO David Crickmore said: “At Amouage we are delighted to confirm our association with Ahmad al Harthy for the 2017 endurance racing season. We are glad to be able to invite some of our clients to experience the excitement of motor racing first hand and to enjoy a day at the track with Amouage and Ahmad Al Harthy.”
Ahmad and Oman Racing will make their first ‘official’ appearance of the year during the pre-season Blancpain Endurance Cup test days at Paul Ricard in France on March 13/14. The championship gets underway one month later, over the weekend April 22/23 at Monza in Italy.