Ahmad to have a shy at his second Pro-Am crown
It was way back in July 2017 that Oman's Ahmad al Harthy reached his pinnacle of his motor sports career when he along with Jonny Adam claimed the coveted Pro-Am title of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at the historic Total 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium. Oman Racing had also ensured the teams' title in the class that year.
And both the glittering trophies of Ahmad’s 2017 achievements were proudly displayed at the NBO headquarters on Monday, when the 37 year old Muscat-based driver unveiled his 2019 racing programme with a clear mission – regain the Pro-Am glory at one of the 'world's most challenging' Blancpain Endurance Cup.
The season gets underway at Monza in Italy on April 13-14.
The trophies certainly underlined Ahmad's credentials as one of the top racers from the region, who has made his mark at top-level racing, but also served as a reminder to Ahmad of the efforts needed by him and his team to achieve it.
Besides Ahmad, the Oman Racing Team will comprise experienced Charlie Eastwood of Northern Ireland and Salih Yoluc of Turkey. Both the drivers have earlier raced along with Ahmad.
A year after Ahmad and his team went podium-less, the Omani wished to turn the 'tough year' as a motivator to excel as he believed that the season gone by had made him a 'better driver'.
At a press meet, held at the NBO headquarters, to launch his programme, Ahmad was joined by representatives of the Ministry of Sports Affairs, National Bank of Oman (NBO), Omantel and Barr al Jissah, the partners for his new season.
The Oman Racing trio will be driving the latest Aston Martin Vantage GT3 version, and the team will be powered by British squad, TF Sport.
While Eastwood raced as part of Oman Racing’s Silver class line-up last year, Yoluc was part of the team’s Pro-Am podium finishing line-up in the Total 24 Hours of Spa in 2017.
Speaking on the occasion, Ahmad said, “I’m very proud to be flying the flag for Oman again in the Pro-Am class of the Blancpain Endurance Cup.
“We obviously have some great memories of Pro-Am from 2017 when we won the championship.
“We’re hopeful that Oman Racing will again be in a position to challenge for the title this season with our new line-up.
“I’m very pleased Charlie [Eastwood] is continuing with us for a second season, and it’s great to see Salih [Yoluc] back with us for the full championship series.”
Ahmad said he was delighted to watch that motor sports in Oman has grown over the recent years and young Omani talent are making their names in regional circuit. He said, “I would suggest them to take a step at a time. I am proud of their results.”
Hassan Amir Shaban, NBO's chief government banking officer, said, “Ahmad is a true Omani brand and an Omani icon. We have a strong association [ten years of partnership] and are happy that he has delivered and carried Oman's flag high for the past many years. Ours is a ten-year old love story and we would, hopefully, like to continue for another decade.”
Ali Bakhit Kashoob, senior manager at Omantel said, “Ahmad is a great ambassador of Oman sports and we are proud to be associated with him as he serves as a true role model for Omani youth.”
Hamood al Maamari, a representative from Barr Al Jissah, and Hisham al Sinani, from the Ministry of Sports Affairs, also spoke on the occasion.
Calendar: April 13-14: Monza, Italy; May 11-12: Silverstone, UK, May 31-June 1: Paul Ricard, France, July 25-28: Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium (Total 24 Hours of Spa); September 28-29: Barcelona, Spain.