Muscat: With just a fortnight to go until the biggest race of the Blancpain Endurance Cup season, the world-renowned Total 24 Hours of Spa, Ahmad Al Harthy says the Oman Racing team is more than ready for the category’s blue riband event.
During the recent official pre-event test day at the Belgian Grand Prix venue, where the squad produced a strong showing with the No. 97 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, Al Harthy and regular teammate Jonny Adam were joined by third driver Salih Yoluc, who raced with the squad during the previous round at Paul Ricard in France, and team newcomer Euan Hankey.
British driver Hankey, who joins the expanded four driver line-up for the twice-round-the-clock challenge on July 29 and 30, fitted in seamlessly on his debut in Oman Racing colours. Hankey ordinarily competes with Yoluc in both the European Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship with TF Sport, the engineering strength behind Oman Racing.
Focusing on car set-up for the intense and uniquely demanding 24 Hour race, the test couldn’t have gone more smoothly for the Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Air, National Bank of Oman, Omantel, Barr Al Jissah and Amouage backed team. Ending the morning seventh in Pro-Am, in the afternoon the team lapped fifth fastest in class.
With more than 60 cars taking to the track for the five-hour test, and with glorious conditions greeting competitors, Al Harthy and his team-mates worked through their full planned programme and are now relishing the return to Belgium at the end of the month for the big race itself.
“Everything went as planned for the test day at Spa, we worked through changes to the car to get the most out of it for all four drivers – in the end we were all very happy”, said Al Harthy. “It’s great welcoming Euan (Hankey) to the team for the 24 Hours, he’s a very quick and professional driver and has fitted in perfectly. There’s a great atmosphere and we’re all so focused for the race.
“All of the guys in the team are looking forward so much to the 24 Hour, it’s a challenge like no other in Blancpain but one we’re all ready for. It’s been an incredible season so far, hopefully we can keep the momentum going at Spa and keep our championship bid on track.”
So far in 2017, Oman Racing has enjoyed a sensational campaign in the Blancpain Endurance Cup with Pro-Am victory in the season-opening event at Monza in Italy followed by second place in class at Silverstone in the UK and, last time out, second position again in the Paul Ricard six hour.
Ahead of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, Al Harthy and full-season teammate Adam have an eight point lead at the top of the Pro-Am driver standings with Oman Racing eight points clear in the team battle too. Additionally, of course, Al Harthy scorched to a pair of history making victories at Le Mans last month during the Michelin Le Mans Cup support races, taking a double win in the GT3 class.
Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am Driver standings (after Rd3):
1. Ahmad Al Harthy/Jonny Adam 68 pts
2. Adrian Amstutz/Martin Kodric/Patrick Kujala 60 pts
3. Jules Gounon/Jean-Luc Beaubelique/Nico Bastian 45 pts
Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am Team Standings (after Rd3):
1. Oman Racing 68 pts
2. Barwell Motorsport 60 pts
3. AKKA ASP 45 pts.