Oman motor racing sensation Ahmad al Harthy is embarking on return to action with a debut in the high-profile Asian Le Mans Series at the start of 2021.
“This is a new challenge. It’s a huge opportunity provided the prize of an entry to the Le Mans 24 Hours next year,” the decorated Oman Racing driver said during a remotely-held press conference in Muscat on Wednesday.
The outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the racing programme of Ahmad and Oman Racing as the resulting ‘lockdown’ restrictions meant the planned British GT Championship title bid couldn’t take place.
“Due to the COVID-19 situation globally, and the various travel restrictions, we had to re-look at our plans, make some difficult decisions and consider the next step — and the most appropriate thing for us to do was to look ahead to racing in the Asian Le Mans Series,” explained Al Harthy. “We’ve never had the chance to race in the championship before. Sometimes with problems come opportunities. As we always do, everyone at Oman Racing will be going all-out to try and win.”
Working tirelessly behind the scenes during the past few months, along with Tom Ferrier’s TF Sport team which prepares and engineers the Oman Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 car, Al Harthy has been able to put together the programme in the forthcoming Asian Le Mans Series.
Retaining the steadfast support of long-term backers Oman Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, National Bank of Oman, Omantel and Barr Al Jissah, double Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am Champion Al Harthy hopes he can make it to the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours.
Al Harthy-Adam partnership continues
With his sights on nothing less than GT3 championship success in the Asian Le Mans Series, Al Harthy has the tremendous continuity of teaming with Aston Martin works driver Jonny Adam — with whom he claimed both his Blancpain titles — and young British talent Tom Canning.
As a result of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, organisers of the Asian Le Mans Series took the decision to move the new campaign to the start of 2021 and also put together a calendar of a quartet of four-hour races over just a three-week window in January.
The condensed and rescheduled Far East championship will begin on January 9 at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, with a second four-hour race at the same track just two days later on January 11. Drivers and teams will then travel to Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia for round three on January 23, and round four on January 26.
Al Harthy suggested that some one-off outings in European based categories may well be on the cards in the coming months as part of preparations for a return to competitive action.
“I’m delighted to be teaming with Tom [Canning] and, of course, Jonny,” said Al Harthy, “Jonny and I have won so much together, I really think all three of us make a very strong line-up for the Asian Le Mans Series. If things work out well in Europe with fewer restrictions on travel in the weeks and months to come, we’ll probably do some one-off races as well.”
“Although we’ve been away from the track for quite a while now, since the pre-season British GT test in March, I’ve been working hard to keep fit and motivated, and I’ve been concentrating on the world of motorsport a lot. I’m really looking forward to being back and doing what we do best!”
“The prospect of representing Oman outside always excites me and all the Sultanate sportspersons should strive to excel internationally and make the country proud,” Ahmad concluded.