Al Harthy seals front row start at 6 Hours of Monza

Sports Sunday 09/July/2023 20:54 PM
By: Times News Service
Al Harthy seals front row start at 6 Hours of Monza

MUSCAT: Oman Racing with TF Sport’s Ahmad Al Harthy produced an excellent qualifying performance at Monza in Italy on Saturday to secure a front row start in the fifth round of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season.

Aiming for a third successive GTE Am podium with team-mates, Michael Dinan and Charlie Eastwood in Sunday’s WEC 6 Hours of Monza, the squad will have a challenge to match the top speed of the rival Ferraris and Porsches. Al Harthy’s stand-out qualifying in the grid-determining run brought a lot of positivity ahead of the race.

The Oman Racing entry was 11th fastest in the two free practice (FP) sessions on Friday, and improved to ninth in third free practice on Saturday morning.

Al Harthy took the reins of the No.25 Aston Martin Vantage for the subsequent 15-minute qualifying session and after the first flying laps were in the book the Omani was fourth on the timesheets, an initial effort of 1m51.848s.

He then shot onto GTE Am pole with an excellent lap of 1m48.545 seconds, half a second clear of his closest challenger, and it proved a timely attempt as well with the session halted by a red flag stoppage mere moments later.

Qualifying resumed with just under eight minutes left on the clock and the Oman Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, OQ, Omantel and MHD-ITICS supported racer set about trying to improve yet further on a new set of Michelin tyres.

On his first lap of the re-start Al Harthy circulated in 1m49.244 seconds, before then delivering a session best of 1m48.058 seconds on his penultimate run – moving him back up to second fastest and within 0.4 seconds of pole, where he would stay.

Al Harthy said: “I’m delighted with qualifying. It was the absolute best we could achieve as a package here at Monza. From FP1 we knew we didn’t have the strongest package around this circuit, so to get P2 in qualifying is amazing. I’m really happy with my performance and equally happy with all the team work which has been put in for us to achieve this together.

“We worked a lot to find the best qualifying set-up and with the session being interrupted with the red flag, it was a good strategy to take on new tyres then and go for it again. Thankfully we got a front row start, but it’s going to be much, much tougher in the race. The speed of the Porsches and Ferraris is very, very strong so we will focus on our normal strategy and do the best we can.”