Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium: Oman Racing with TF Sport’s Ahmad al Harthy stormed to a dominant GTE Am class pole position at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday – a landmark first qualifying topping performance from the Omani in his maiden season in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Delivering a faultless showing throughout the 15-minute session, which was red flagged halfway through and then re-started, the Aston Martin Vantage driver shot to the top of the times with his first true flying lap, a time of 2m18.127 seconds.
No sooner had Al Harthy put Oman Racing at the summit of the timesheets than the session had to be halted due to a car off track, and so the runners all returned to pitlane. When qualifying resumed, Al Harthy got down to business straight away and posted an improved time of 2m17.474 seconds.
Extending his advantage markedly, there was still time to better it further with his final lap of the session and he duly delivered with a session best of 2m17.216 seconds. Sparking huge celebrations within the Oman Racing squad, Al Harthy’s first WEC pole – the first ever in the World Championship by an Omani entrant – was achieved by a gap of almost two seconds.
The result comes as a welcome boost to Al Harthy and team-mates Michael Dinan and Charlie Eastwood after a challenging start to the 2023 campaign, and hopes are now justifiably high ahead of today’s TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps race in Belgium.
The build-up to the third contest of the season has been strong from the get-go for Oman Racing, with the squad finishing third fastest in the opening free practice session on Thursday, 27th April, before then working hard on the set-up for qualifying and race trim.
As a track where Oman Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, OQ, Omantel and MHD-ITICS backed Al Harthy has excelled throughout his distinguished motorsport career, Oman’s number one racing driver is very much looking forward to round three of the FIA WEC campaign.
Ahmad al Harthy:
“I’m absolutely delighted, our first FIA WEC pole position and we are the first Omani entry to ever do that in the World Championship. It’s a dream come true! I’m delighted with how we managed to prepare ourselves for qualifying, everything over the last two days which we have been practicing worked and it was all about maximising the tyres at the right time in qualifying."
“We knew some competitors were able to be in the low two minute 17 seconds bracket in practice, and for us to do that in qualifying and the others not to replicate that was a huge boost. I think we can have a good race, it’s always a long six hours of racing around Spa, but we did what we had to do in qualifying. I’m so proud to have achieved this for Oman, hopefully it’s the start of more to come.”
2023 FIA World Endurance Championship GTE Am Driver Standings:
14th Ahmad al Harthy / Michael Dinan / Charlie Eastwood, 7 pts
2023 FIA World Endurance Championship GTE Am Team Standings:
11th Oman Racing with TF Sport, 7 pts