Muscat: Oman’s Ahmad Al Harthy is preparing to firmly kick-start his maiden European Le Mans Series campaign when round two of the championship takes place at Imola in Italy this weekend, 14th/15th May, where the Oman Racing driver is eyeing nothing less than GTE podium success.
Having showcased fantastic speed and competitiveness during the opening ELMS event of the season at Circuit Paul Ricard in France last month, Al Harthy and Oman Racing team-mates Sam De Haan and Marco Sorensen were prevented from challenging for silverware after lap one contact.
With De Haan at the wheel of the No.69 Aston Martin Vantage GTE at the time of the incident, leading the class early on after Al Harthy had qualified an excellent second fastest, damage to the steering caused by contact from an errant LMP3 class car led to instant retirement.
Frustrating to say the least for the entire Oman Racing team, which had performed so impressively during the build-up to the first four-hour race of the season, ELMS debutant Al Harthy was still very happy with the pace and competitiveness shown.
While heading to Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari having to mount a fightback where the GTE championship standings are concerned, confidence is high within Oman Racing of a suitably strong weekend and Al Harthy is determined to challenge for his first ELMS podium.
The coming weekend’s action will also mark the Omani’s first ever visit to the legendary Italian track, a challenge he is looking forward to as the team – which carries support from the Oman Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, OQ, Omantel and MHD-ITICS – puts the luckless dramas of round one firmly in the past and focuses instead on success going forward.
“I’ve no doubt our car will be strong again for Imola, as it was at Paul Ricard, and Marco, Sam and I will be competitive and able to push for a strong result and give a real kick-start to our season”, said Al Harthy, “In qualifying and race trim we were very strong in France and I know the TF Sport guys, who prepare the car, will do an amazing job again as always.
“I can’t wait to race at Imola for the first time, it’s such a famous track and it’s always great being faced with a new challenge. We were able to learn a lot about the GTE car at Paul Ricard so hopefully that will give us a solid base to build from at the weekend. Hopefully we can fight for our first podium in the ELMS at Imola and proudly fly the flag for Oman there.”
Opening free practice and a dedicated session for bronze graded drivers will take place at Imola on Friday, 13th May, ahead of a second practice session on Saturday, 14th May, which will lead in to qualifying at 14.05 local time.