Ahmad makes Dubai return for Asian Le Mans –
Dubai Autodrome to host first pair of four-hour ALMS con tests –
Adam and Canning to partner Al Harthy in Oman Racing entry –
MUSCAT: Almost four months since his last appearance on track, a race-winning outing at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, Oman’s number one racing driver Ahmad al Harthy will be back behind the wheel of his No 97 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 next weekend for the start of the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series.
Debuting in the world-renowned ALMS with Oman Racing this year, Al Harthy will be partnered by Aston Martin factory driver Jonny Adam and AMR Driver Academy racer Tom Canning for the four-round championship which, for the first time ever, will take place in the Middle East.
In a change to the planned schedule, Dubai Autodrome will now host the opening two races on February 13 and 14, with Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi — which was set to be the venue for the whole series — hosting rounds three and four a week later.
Having last raced in Dubai, in essence a ‘home’ venue for Oman’s Al Harthy, in 2011 in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East and also the UAE GT Championship, the decorated double Blancpain Endurance Series Pro-Am Champion is relishing the prospect of being back in action on local ground.
“It’s going to be fantastic racing in the Middle East again, and I can’t wait to be back working at the track with everyone at Oman Racing”, he commented. “It’s obviously been a very unusual time over the last 12 months, and everyone’s plans have had to change due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but we’re finally able to get the Asian Le Mans Series under way.
“Dubai Autodrome is one of the closest circuits I have to a home track, so I’m looking forward to being back there. We have an incredible line-up with Jonny (Adam) and Tom (Canning) on board, and with the TF Sport guys working hard on the car set-up and performance we’re all very confident of a strong start to the season with our Aston Martin.”
Supported for his maiden ALMS campaign by long-standing partners Oman Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, National Bank of Oman, Omantel and Barr Al Jissah, Al Harthy is determined to mount a major challenge in the GT3 class — and especially with a prize of an entry into this year’s prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours on offer to the eventual champion.
His race-winning maiden outing in the International GT Open at Spa last October was proof Al Harthy didn’t have the slightest bit of race rustiness, even though his previous race prior to that was back in October 2019 in Barcelona, Spain, before the coronavirus pandemic halted worldwide motorsport.
“My motivation is higher than ever, especially with a new test facing us in the ALMS”, said Al Harthy. “The championship is renowned for being very competitive, extremely professional and full of top teams and drivers. The entry looks incredibly strong, so it’s going to be a great challenge. I’m aiming to give everyone back home in Oman plenty to celebrate.”
With over 20 cars entered in the GT class, Oman Racing’s Aston Martin is set to battle the likes of McLaren, Porsche, BMW and Ferrari, while the overall entry will feature another 16 cars across the LMP2 and LMP3 ‘prototype’ categories.
Following testing on February 9 and 10, official free practice will take place on February 11, with sessions starting at 10.40 and 17.30 local time. The all-important qualifying session will then begin at 09.55 local time on February 12.
Race one of the ALMS season will get under way at 14.15 local time on February 13, at Dubai Autodrome with race two following at 12.45 local time on February 14. Live streaming of the four-hour race will be carried here: https://www.asianlemansseries.com/live/