European Le Mans Series driver Ahmad Al Harthy secured a front-row start in the LMGTE class for the Oman Racing team during round five qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on Saturday, 24 September, and carries high hopes of continuing the momentum in today’s big race.
In an entertaining session at Spa, the Omani racer extracted everything he could from the No.69 Aston Martin Vantage GTE to lap second fastest and give himself, Sam De Haan and Marco Sorensen a great chance of fighting for a return to the ELMS podium at one of Al Harthy’s favourite tracks.
“I’m delighted with qualifying, I really maximised everything I could and it was the most we could have got out of the session”, said the Omani, “It was a tough second practice earlier in the day, with changing conditions and rain, so to then go straight out into a short qualifying session on a dry track was very challenging.
“We did a good job, though, and I really am delighted to have qualified the car on the front row. We are looking forward to the race, the Oman Racing Aston Martin feels really good around Spa, so now we hope to take the momentum from qualifying forward into the race and battle for a good result.”
Oman racing concluded the first free practice session on Friday, 23rd September, sixth quickest in LMGTE before Al Harthy lapped an improved fourth fastest – with a time of 2m19.818 seconds – in the standalone session for the Bronze graded drivers.
Rain ahead of second practice on Saturday, 24th September, ensured a wet session was declared and the squad concluded the run second in LMGTE. Carrying good positivity into the all-important qualifying session on Saturday afternoon, Al Harthy delivered a very strong performance.
Damp patches were still in evidence as qualifying started but, by and large, the circuit was dry and Al Harthy went third fastest on his first flying lap. Reducing his time to 2m18.185 seconds on his second lap, Al Harthy moved up into second position.
On his third lap, the Oman Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, Sohar International Bank, OQ, Omantel and MHD-ITICS supported driver was horribly held up by a slower Ferrari – which had previously run wide and through the gravel – and so no further improvement was possible. He was able to complete another flying lap, but ultimately settled for second on the LMGTE grid.