Al Harthy aiming to convert performance into podium as World Endurance arrives in Portugal

Sports Tuesday 11/April/2023 14:22 PM
By: Times News Service
Al Harthy aiming to convert performance into podium as World Endurance arrives in Portugal

Muscat: Oman Racing’s Ahmad Al Harthy makes a welcome return to race action in Europe later this week as the FIA World Endurance Championship arrives in Portugal, for the hotly anticipated second round of the 2023 season – the 6 Hours of Portimao.

Aston Martin Vantage racer Al Harthy, along with team-mates Michael Dinan and Charlie Eastwood, heads to the Algarve region in justifiably optimistic mood after a very competitive showing during the championship curtain-raiser in Sebring, USA, last month.

Marking the Omani’s maiden outing in FIA WEC, and his first ever visit to the very unique Florida track, Al Harthy starred and delivered from the outset in the GTE Am class – first producing an excellent top three showing in qualifying, before racing impressively during the eight-hour contest.

Ninth place at the finish though wasn’t remotely indicative of the pace and performance shown by the Oman Racing with TF Sport trio, as the squad had to battle back from a costly puncture early in hour two – while Dinan was running in the podium battle. Losing a huge amount of time, the points for ninth position were the best which could be achieved.

All things being equal at the weekend, Al Harthy is aiming for a big haul of points with the focus on mounting a challenge for a maiden FIA WEC podium finish in only his second weekend in the globe’s biggest endurance racing championship.

It’s worth remembering too, Portimao’s Autodrome Internacional do Algarve provided one of last year’s true highlights for the Omani with a fantastic second place finish in the LMGTE class during the final race of the 2022 European Le Mans Series. Notably, it was Al Harthy’s debut at the track.

As always, the Aston Martin brand ambassador will go into the Portuguese round with key backing and support from the Oman Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, OQ, Omantel and MHD-ITICS.

Ahmad Al Harthy said: “Portimao obviously holds very happy memories for me from last season in the ELMS, and it would be fantastic to be challenging for the podium this weekend in only Oman Racing’s second race in the FIA World Endurance Championship. The level is so incredibly high in WEC, but we competed well in America during the first race and there were so many positives to bring away from there.

“Qualifying will be important, as always, and I was very happy with my performance there in round one. The whole team learnt a huge amount from the Sebring race and we’re all determined to build on that and have the strongest weekend we can. Portimao is a completely different challenge to Sebring, but it’s a track we went very well at last year in ELMS so confidence is high.”

Opening free practice for the second event of the FIA World Endurance Championship season will take place at 11.00 (local time) on Friday, 14th April, with session two following at 16.00. On Saturday, 15th April, third free practice starts at 11.00 with qualifying then beginning at 19.00. Race two of the season, the 6 Hours of Portimao, will get underway at 12.00 on Sunday, 16th April.