Motorsport: Al Harthy looking forward to Gulf 12 Hours challenge
December 11, 2017 | 2:41 PM
by Times News Service
Ahmad Al Harthy: "Everyone at Oman Racing is determined to do well and fly the flag proudly once again for Oman." Photo - Supplied

Muscat: Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi hosts the seventh edition of the Gulf 12 Hours on December 16, where Ahmad Al Harthy is determined to add to the silverware he and Oman Racing achieved on their last visit to the United Arab Emirates two years ago.

Al Harthy, the reigning Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am champion, is relishing his return to Yas Marina where he and Aston Martin ‘works’ drivers Jonny Adam and Darren Turner combined to take a superb top three finish for Oman Racing on the squad’s Gulf 12 Hours debut in 2015.

For his second appearance in the big race, which is split into two six-hour portions with a break of around two and a half hours in between, Omani star Al Harthy will share his Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 with talented British duo Tom Jackson and Euan McKay.

Jackson, of course, is a familiar name to fans and followers of Al Harthy as the young Englishman partnered the Omani to a pair of sensational GT3 class victories back in June in the Michelin Le Mans Cup – the support category to the world-renowned Le Mans 24 Hours.

Scottish racer McKay, meanwhile, will arrive new to the team and fresh to the Aston Martin having competed for the past couple of years in the same Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship where Al Harthy was Pro-Am 1 class champion in 2012. Notably, McKay claimed the same title in 2016.

“We really are looking forward to being back racing at the weekend, it seems a long time already since the final round of Blancpain so I can’t wait to be back behind the wheel,” said Al Harthy. “The Gulf 12 Hours is a huge event and has become a big date on the sporting calendar in the Middle East, so everyone at Oman Racing is determined to do well and fly the flag proudly once again for Oman.

“On our first visit there in 2015, Jonny, Darren and I enjoyed a fantastic weekend with pole position and third place in the race. Obviously, we’d love to repeat the podium – and maybe challenge for more too – and we’ll definitely give it everything we have. We’re delighted to have Tom and Euan on board, they’re two quick and very talented young drivers with a great deal of determination.”

Supported as always by his prestigious portfolio of sponsors, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Air, National Bank of Oman, Omantel, Barr Al Jissah and Amouage, Al Harthy and his teammates will form part of an expected entry of around 30 cars for the weekend’s Gulf 12 Hours.

Featuring the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes AMG, Porsche and Maserati in the GT classes alongside the Oman Racing Aston Martin, the race will also feature LMP3 ‘prototype’ machinery as you would find in contests such as the Le Mans 24 Hours.

“There are some very experienced and professional teams and drivers taking part in the Gulf 12 Hours, it’s a strong entry, so we know it’s not going to be easy,” added Al Harthy. “We have had an outstanding year and we’re carrying the same work ethic and optimism into our final race of 2017. It would be incredible to try and end the year with another trophy, we’ll be trying as hard as we can!”

Free practice at Yas Marina gets underway on December 14, with two sessions – one in the daylight and one under night skies – with additional practice runs on December 15, ahead of qualifying.

On December 16, the Gulf 12 Hours itself will begin at 09.00 (local time) with the first six hours of racing concluding at 15.00 (local time). The second six hours of action will commence at 17.45 (local time).

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