Muscat: Oman Racing is ready to embark on its biggest week of the 2017 motor racing season as final preparations begin for the most prestigious race of the Blancpain Endurance Cup campaign – the Total 24 Hours of Spa which gets underway on July 29.
Omani racer Ahmad Al Harthy, the Sultanate’s number one motor racing star, is ready and more determined than ever to challenge for a career-best result in the huge twice-round-the-clock race with the chief focus to try and maintain the lead of the Pro-Am Championship standings.
Joined as part of the No. 97 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 entry by Jonny Adam, Salih Yoluc and team newcomer Euan Hankey for the 24 Hour, Al Harthy says the importance of the fourth race of the Blancpain Endurance Cup cannot be underestimated – especially with points scored at six hours, the 12-hour mark and, of course, at the conclusion.
With that in mind, consistency and reliability is more important than ever and having finished on the podium in each of the three rounds contested this year, consistency is something which has become synonymous with Oman Racing.
Making the perfect start to 2017 with Pro-Am victory at Monza in Italy, Al Harthy and full season teammate Adam then finished second in class at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in the UK and, along with Yoluc, raced to the runner-up spot in the Paul Ricard six-hour race last time out.
Notably, the recent official test day at Spa-Francorchamps – which featured over 60 cars – went smoothly for the Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Air, National Bank of Oman, Omantel, Barr Al Jissah and Amouage supported squad with the fifth fastest Pro-Am time in the afternoon session.
Determined to carry the excellent momentum forward into next weekend’s encounter, Al Harthy is confident Oman Racing will once again prove to be a very competitive package and the clear aim is to again challenge for silverware in a bid to stay on top of the Pro-Am title battle.
“We’re all so excited for Spa, it’s always an amazing race to be part of and an incredible week actually building up to the 24 Hour itself,” said the Aston Martin racer. “We’ve had a fantastic season so far, it’s so good to be leading the Pro-Am championship after three rounds but we know how challenging the 24 Hour is and we’re taking nothing for granted.
“Absolutely anything can happen in Blancpain, but especially in a twice-round-the-clock race with all of the demands on the car, the drivers, night racing, the weather – you never know what’s going to happen so preparation is key. We’re happy with the programme we completed during the test day at the beginning of the month and we’re going into the 24 Hour determined to do the best we can.”
Track action for the Blancpain Endurance Cup competitors gets underway on July 25, with the opening Bronze Test session before the drivers and teams take part in the annual Total 24 Hours of Spa parade into the centre of the nearby town on July 26.
On July 27, Free Practice, Pre-Qualifying and Final Qualifying will be held with the fastest qualifiers progressing to Super Pole on July 28. Then, on July 29, the 24 Hour race itself will commence at 1630 (local time).
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