Ahmad targets second Blancpain title in season decider
Former Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am Champion Ahmad al Harthy is just one race away from potentially claiming his second title in the world’s biggest GT3 category. And the Omani racer is far from complacent going into the final round of the season in Barcelona on September 29.
Heading to the Circuit de Catalunya later this week, the sultanate’s number one racing driver carries a 16 point Pro-Am lead into the Blancpain finale along with 2019 Oman Racing team-mates Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc.
It has been a lengthy eight weeks since the penultimate race of the campaign, the immense Total 24 Hours of Spa, in which the Aston Martin squad produced a performance of colossal proportions to win the twice-round-the-clock spectacular for the first time.
Enabling Ahmad and his team-mates to extend their lead in the Pro-Am standings, the victory was far from straightforward with the National Bank of Oman, Ministry of Sports Affairs, Omantel and Barr al Jissah liveried No 97 Aston Martin Vantage having to begin the encounter from the pitlane.
Facing an incredible challenge, a race which featured torrential rain and also a stoppage for nearly six hours due to the severity of the conditions, Ahmad, Eastwood, Yoluc and fourth driver Nicki Thiim did the unthinkable by storming through the huge 72-car field to claim class victory.
Along with outstanding driving, tremendous teamwork in the pit-stops by the TF Sport crew which prepare the Oman Racing entry was a key feature of the eventual success with a consistently competitive team effort making all the difference.
As well as a landmark moment in Ahmad’s stunning career, the win was also history-making for Aston Martin as the marque’s maiden class success in the blue riband Blancpain race. Added to that, the result came during the week when Oman celebrated Renaissance Day – marking the 49th year of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s reign.
Going into the three-hour fifth and final round this coming weekend in Spain, Ahmad is determined to seize the opportunity to try and claim his second Pro-Am Blancpain crown in just three years. “I can’t believe we’re almost at the end of another season, it’s been an amazing year so far for all of us at Oman Racing and everyone is determined to cap an incredible 2019 with another title,” he said.
“We’ve been racing for long enough at this level to know there are so many factors outside your control though, so none of us are complacent and we’ll give 100 per cent as we always do. Spa was an unbelievable weekend, an absolute dream come true for me personally, the team and all of my sponsors. The performance was beyond anything we honestly thought possible from a pitlane start, to win the 24 hours is an achievement I’ve wanted on my CV for so long.
“We have a good points lead going into Barcelona but we can’t rely on that, we need to make sure we deliver the same consistency and reliability which has been the key feature of our challenge in Pro-Am this season. It would be absolutely fantastic to try and end the season with five podiums from five endurance races, but the championship is obviously our prime focus.”
Oman Racing began the 2019 season with a third place finish in Pro-Am at Monza in Italy before charging to second position during the UK round at Silverstone. In the third event of the year, the six-hour ‘into the night’ race at Paul Ricard in France, the team was third again before taking its headline-grabbing victory at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium at the end of July.