Muscat: Ahmad Al Harthy and Oman Racing made a sparkling return to action in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup at Germany’s Nurburgring on Saturday, 4th September, with the second fastest time in the Pro-Am class during pre-qualifying.
Performing like he’d never been away from Europe’s biggest and best GT3 championship, Al Harthy impressed during his first competitive runs in the category since the end of the 2019 season and the double Pro-Am Champion was very happy with his pace and consistency.
Likewise, team-mates Giacomo Petrobelli and Maxime Martin also lapped strongly in the No.97 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and the trio will go into final qualifying later this morning, Sunday, 5th September, aiming for a similar star showing ahead of the weekend’s three-hour race.
The Oman Racing line-up has changed from the expected one pre-event, with Aston Martin factory driver Martin standing in for Charlie Eastwood – the latter self-isolating having been a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
“It was a good pre-qualifying for us, we’ve been really working hard since the first session at the Nurburgring to make sure the car is working well at this circuit”, commented Al Harthy, “We’re looking forward to going out in final qualifying now and doing a good job. We worked a lot on our race pace as well to make sure we have a good car for the race too.
“It’s a very tight grid, a very tough grid, and I’d say it’s tougher than it’s been for a very long time in GT World Challenge Europe but I’m really looking forward to qualifying and then a good race. It’s great having Max [Martin] in the car in place of Charlie – of course we all wish Charlie well – and great to work with him and also Giacomo for the first time. We’re all working very well together.”
Oman Racing’s car was first in action at the Nurburgring on Friday, 3rd September, during the ‘bronze’ graded practice session before the full entry participated in main free practice on Saturday morning. Lapping fifth fastest in Pro-Am, the No.97 Aston Martin ended the session 20th overall.
Continuing to develop the set-up of the Omantel, OQ and Oman Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth liveried car into the 90-minute pre-qualifying session, the team-mates made a significant step forward and delivered outstanding pace.
Producing a best time of 1m55.227 seconds, courtesy of Aston Martin works ace Martin, the Oman Racing drivers placed fifth quickest overall of the huge 44-car entry and, most importantly of course, second fastest in Pro-Am – just a tenth of a second shy of quickest in class.
Final qualifying at the Nurburgring will get underway at 08.30 local time this morning, Sunday, 5th September, ahead of the big three-hour race at 14.45 local time. Live coverage will be available online at https://www.gt-world-challenge-europe.com/live