Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium): Omani motor racing superstar Ahmad al Harthy elevated his glittering career yet further on Sunday by winning the prestigious Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am Championship title with a magnificent second place Pro-Am class finish in the globally renowned Total 24 Hours of Spa.
Writing another golden chapter in his tremendous racing career, the Muscat sportsman made history once again as the first Omani and first driver of Arab origin to win a coveted championship crown in the world’s biggest and best GT3 endurance series. Additionally, Oman Racing lifted the Pro-Am team title to make it an incredible double championship celebration.
Acting as the fourth event of the five-round Blancpain Endurance season, the twice-round-the-clock Total 24 Hours of Spa carried huge importance in championship terms with points allocated at the six hour, 12 hour and 24 hour mark.
From the Pro-Am pole position, achieved by Al Harthy’s full season team-mate Jonny Adam, Oman Racing held the class lead as the race hit six hours, ran in second position at 12 hours and then took the chequered flag, Al Harthy at the wheel for the final hour, in second to cap a wonderful weekend.
Notably, the Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Air, National Bank of Oman, Omantel, Barr Al Jissah and Amouage liveried No 97 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 didn’t miss a beat throughout the entire 24 hours. Not once was a pit stop required for anything other than driver changes, refuelling and tyre changes — an incredible feat by the TF Sport engineered Oman Racing entry.
“What an unbelievable result,” said the absolutely elated Al Harthy, “To stand on the podium at Spa is a dream come true but to win the Pro-Am championship too, drivers and team titles, is just amazing. It’s hard to put into words just what this means for Oman Racing and for everyone in Oman who has given us such incredible support, especially our amazing partners who make this happen.”
“We just celebrated 10 years of Oman Racing and to win a championship again, especially such an important and competitive championship like Blancpain, is such a proud moment for me. I have to dedicate this success to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos and all of the people of Oman.”
Al Harthy, Adam confirm title
Making a clean start to the Total 24 Hours of Spa at 16.30 (local time) on Saturday, July 29, the Oman Racing entry — comprising Al Harthy, Adam, Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey — ran faultlessly and throughout the various driver cycles, everything went according to plan.
With so many championship points available, scoring heavily at the key points of the 24 hour would be crucial and things couldn’t have started better for the Aston Martin squad when securing the points for first place in Pro-Am as the race reached the six hour mark.
Into the night, Oman Racing continued to trade the lead through the pit-stop phases and when rain arrived almost exactly halfway through the encounter during the small hours of Sunday morning, all wondered if the conditions would have a significant impact on the race.
Never materialising into the large-scale downpour which had been forecast, Oman Racing took the points for second position at 12 hours and even with a huge amount of racing to go a maiden Spa podium for Al Harthy looked a distinct possibility.
As daylight arrived, everything was perfectly in control and the No 97 car went on to deliver one of the most important results in Al Harthy’s career to-date as well as extending the 100 per cent podium finishing record for 2017.
With the Omani taking the final hour of racing for the run to the chequered flag, only after he crossed the finish line was he informed over the team radio the Pro-Am title had been secured, sparking emotional celebrations.
“The team did an unbelievable job, the car never had to box during the race for any problems at all and we could just fight non-stop to do the best job we could,” added Al Harthy, “We knew we had a good car capable of a strong result, but we’ve seen it before in motorsport, and especially in 24 hour races, absolutely anything can happen.”
“Everyone has been working so hard for Spa, this race is so big for the championship so it’s something you’re always preparing for all year to make sure you’re mentally and physically ready. To have finished every race so far this season on the podium is something very special for me too, I’ve never done that before in my career.”
Al Harthy now has a break of two months from track action, plenty of time to soak-up all of the adulation of winning the Pro-Am title, with the fifth and final round of the Blancpain Endurance Cup taking place over the weekend on September 30- October 1 at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.
Blancpain Endurance Cup Rd4 Total 24 Hours of Spa Result:
1. Audi Sport Team Sainteloc – Audi R8 LMS
(Christopher Hasse/Jules Gounon/Markus Winkelhock)
2. Bentley Team M-Sport – Bentley Continental GT3
(Andy Soucek/Vincent Abril/Maxime Soulet)
3. AKKA ASP – Mercedes-AMG GT3
(Raffaele Marciello/Michael Meadows/Edoardo Mortara)
15. Oman Racing – Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3
(Ahmad al Harthy/Jonny Adam/Salih Yoluc/Euan Hankey)
Total 24 Hours of Spa Pro-Am
1. Black Falcon – Mercedes-AMG GT3
(Maximilian Gotz/Miguel Toril/Marvin Kirchhofer/Oliver Morley)
2. Oman Racing – Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3
(Ahmad al Harthy/Jonny Adam/Salih Yoluc/Euan Hankey)
3. Spirit of Race – Ferrari 488 GT3
(Toni Vilander/Nicolas Minassian/Davide Rizzo/Alex Dernirdjian)
Pro-Am Driver Standings (after Rd4):
CHAMPIONS: Ahmad al Harthy/Jonny Adam, 108pts
2. Salih Yoluc, 64pts
3. Adrian Amstutz/Martin Kodric/Patrick Kujala, 62pts
Pro-Am Team Standings (after Rd4):
CHAMPIONS: Oman Racing, 108pts
2. Barwell Motorsport, 63pts
3. Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon, 61pts