Podium hat-trick gives Oman Racing Pro-Am drivers’ lead
The Oman Racing trio of Ahmad al Harthy, Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood, made it three out of three podiums this season, in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup as they finished third in the Pro-Am class during the third round of the series at Circuit Paul Ricard on Saturday.
Having claimed its third successive Pro-Am pole earlier on Saturday, the trio did well to climb the podium again in its class during a dramatic and action-packed 1,000kms six-hour ‘into the night’ race.
More importantly, with three podiums in a row, Muscat racer Ahmad, Eastwood and Yoluc departed Le Castellet circuit in France, as new leaders in the Pro-Am drivers' standings (54 points). The trio holds a three-point lead at the top over the Ram Racing duo of Remon Vos and Tom Onslow-Cole.
“I’m delighted to finish on the podium and, at the same time, take over the lead in the drivers' standings,” said Ahmad.
“It was a very tough race, we had to make two extra pit stops to try and cure a mechanical issue which was hampering me in my stint.
“Luckily, Charlie [Eastwood] was able to have some strong pace after me as well in the last stint so we were able to finish in third place.”
Competing in a class that featured seven cars and a total of 49 cars on grid, Yoluc took at the wheel of the No.97 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 first and after a busy start, and early safety car period following an incident, he ran in third position in Pro-Am. Running a double stint, the
Turkish driver moved back up into second place before handing over the car to Ahmad.
Joining the track in the same position with two hours of action having elapsed, the Omani displayed his customary consistency as well as great pace and climbed through into the lead of Pro-Am. After being pushed off the track midway through his stint, Ahmad's competitiveness was then hampered due to a mechanical issue with the car.
Two unscheduled pit stops and subsequent delays meant a realistic challenge for Pro-Am victory evaporated.
Ahmad was able to hold third position in class as the night descended. Maintaining third to the end of his two-hour stint, the Muscat driver then handed over the car to Eastwood for the final 120 minutes of action. Lapping very competitively, Eastwood pressed on but the gap was just too much to bridge and a third was the best possible finish in the class and 26th overall.
The all-French AKKA ASP line-up took a popular home victory with its Mercedes-AMG in the Pro-Am class with the crew of Jean-Luc Beaubelique, Mauro Ricci and Jim Pla.
TheBentley Continental GT3 won the Circuit Paul Ricard 1,000kms, converting pole position into victory. The M-Sport crew comprised Jules Gounon, Steven Kane and Jordan Pepper.
Next up for Oman Racing is the biggest race of the year, the blue riband Total 24 Hours of Spa will take place on July 27-28 at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.