Muscat: Arab motor racing star Ahmad Al Harthy says the Oman Racing Team powered by Motorbase is preparing as well as possible for this month’s fourth round of the Blancpain Endurance Cup, the prestigious Total 24 Hours of Spa, where the squad aims to return to the Pro-Am podium.
With less than three weeks to go until the biggest race of the season at the world-famous Belgian track, the 34-year-old from Muscat is relishing the prospect of making his fourth appearance in the renowned twice-round-the-clock challenge which gets underway on Saturday, July 30.
Last week, Aston Martin Middle East and North Africa ambassador Ahmad was joined by fellow Oman Racing Team drivers Jonny Adam and Devon Modell at Spa for the official pre-event test day which featured a magnificent entry of close to 70 cars.
During the three-hour morning run, the No.44 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 was second fastest in Pro-Am and impressively inside the overall top five. With rain after the lunchbreak adding a variable to proceedings, the track did dry out fairly quickly and the Oman Racing Team completed a very full day satisfied with the knowledge gained and pace shown.
“Generally the official test went very well and it was a good day overall”, said Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Air, National Bank of Oman (NBO), Barr Al Jissah and Omantel-supported racer Ahmad, “I took to the track during the earlier running but then, unfortunately, it did rain just after I put new tyres on so we couldn’t get the benefit of those.
“Even so, everything went well in terms of working on set-up and focusing on the key areas we need to get right in the 24 Hour – we learnt a lot. It was a very important test, vital track time before we go back to Spa at the end of the month, and I’m confident we’re in the right position to begin the weekend with. We’re all hoping to score as many points as we can and to push for a strong result.”
Aston Martin ‘works’ driver Turner drafted in to Oman Racing Team for 24 Hour
Bolstering the Oman Racing Team’s line-up for this year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa will be Aston Martin factory driver Darren Turner, a two-time class winner with the marque at the Le Mans 24 Hours and a multiple class race winner with Aston Martin in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The 42-year-old British racer is no stranger to working with Ahmad and ORT, having joined the Omani and Jonny Adam during last year’s Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi where the trio claimed a superb top three podium finish on the squad’s first competitive outing in the Middle East region.
“It’s fantastic for the Oman Racing Team to have Darren back with us for the 24 Hour at Spa, I’ve obviously worked with him before and we did well in Abu Dhabi last December”, commented Ahmad, “He is a world class driver, a top professional, and his experience and pace are a huge asset to the team – it adds even more strength to our already very strong line-up.”
Heading into the Total 24 Hours of Spa weekend just over a fortnight from now, Ahmad, Adam and Modell are fourth in the Pro-Am driver standings in the Blancpain Endurance Cup with the Oman Racing Team powered by Motorbase fifth in the entrants’ title race.
After finishing fourth in Pro-Am during round one at Monza in Italy, the trio secured the squad’s maiden Pro-Am podium at Silverstone in the UK in the second race of the year – a true breakthrough performance. Last time out at Paul Ricard in France, they had to settle for 13th in class as a result of a lengthy delay caused by unfortunate suspension failure.
2016 Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am Driver Standings (after Rd3): 4th Ahmad Al Harthy/Jonny Adam/Devon Modell, 30pts
2016 Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am Team Standings (after Rd3): 5th Oman Racing Team powered by Motorbase, 30pts