Muscat: Class championship winning Blancpain Endurance Cup team Oman Racing, and title-winning drivers Ahmad Al Harthy and Jonny Adam, added yet more points to their tally during the final round of the season at Barcelona in Spain on Sunday, with a hard-earned top six Pro-Am finish.
Already crowned champions of Pro-Am in the driver and team battles during the previous round at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium several weeks ago, Muscat racer Al Harthy and regular teammate Adam were determined to end the season on a high – but a podium proved just out of reach.
Joined by Turkey’s Salih Yoluc, who also raced with the duo at Paul Ricard in France during round three and at Spa last time out in the 24 hour race, the Oman Racing squad’s hopes of a push for more silverware largely went awry during a fairly robust opening stint at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Having started the race second in Pro-Am and ninth on the overall grid, thanks to Adam’s best time in final qualifying earlier in the day, Yoluc began the three-hour race in the No. 97 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 but an action-packed first quarter of an hour resulted in a slip back to eighth in Pro-Am.
Following a Full Course Yellow cautionary period, and subsequent Safety Car period, the Oman Racing entry was edged back to ninth in class before Yoluc pitted ahead of the one hour mark to hand over the Aston Martin to Al Harthy.
Climbing aboard the Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Air, National Bank of Oman, Omantel, Barr Al Jissah and Amouage liveried car, the Omani was determined to make up some of the lost ground from a difficult position and he gradually worked his way up into seventh in Pro-Am.
Aiming to give Adam a chance at edging closer to the podium placings in the final hour of the race, Al Harthy pressed on but into the final 15 minutes of his run the front-right wing detached from the car and came to rest in the middle of the track after contact from a rival.
Hampering performance, and with subsequent contact from another car not helping either, the Muscat driver maintained his concentration and safely went on to hand the car over to Scottish racer Adam for the final hour.
From eighth in Pro-Am at the end of 120 minutes of racing, Adam raced through into the top six to help salvage a good result for the championship winners.
Post-race, despite not actually finishing on the podium, the Oman Racing drivers were invited onto the rostrum by championship organisers in order to acknowledge and celebrate the title successes in the driver and team Pro-Am categories.
“It was a very tough race for us but we battled hard throughout, to come home with P6 is a respectable way to end an absolutely incredible season for Oman Racing”, said Al Harthy.
“We had so many people fly in to Barcelona from back home to give us support, I can’t thank them all enough and it was wonderful of Blancpain to invite us onto the podium to celebrate our championship win.
“At the start of the year, if we’d been offered four podiums from five races and the championship we would obviously have taken it! This is one of the toughest championships in the world, certainly the hardest I have ever raced in, and so what we achieved is amazing for all of the sponsors, the supporters back in Oman and everyone who is part of what we do.”
Al Harthy added: “Now we wait until the actual championship awards in Paris later in the year, that is going to be so amazing and such a special night. To have won both Pro-Am titles in the 10th anniversary year for Oman Racing really is a dream come true.”
Blancpain Endurance Cup Rd5 Barcelona result:
1. AKKA ASP – Mercedes-AMG GT3
(Tristan Vautier/Felix Serralles/Daniel Juncadella)
2. Team WRT – Audi R8 LMS
(Robin Frijns/Jake Dennis/Stuart Leonard)
3. GRT Grasser Racing Team – Lamborghini Huracan GT3
(Andrea Caldarelli/Christian Engelhart/Mirko Bortolotti)
26. Oman Racing – Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3
(Ahmad Al Harthy/Jonny Adam/Salih Yoluc)
Blancpain Endurance Cup Rd5 Barcelona Pro-Am result:
1. Barwell Motorsport – Lamborghini Huracan GT3
(Martin Kodric/Patrick Kujala/Hunter Abbott)
2. Rinaldi Racing – Ferrari 488 GT3
(Alexander Mattschull/Rinat Salikhov/Daniel Keilwitz)
3. AKKA ASP – Mercedes-AMG GT3
(Ludovic Badey/Daniele Perfetti/Nico Bastian)
6. Oman Racing – Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3
(Ahmad Al Harthy/Jonny Adam/Salih Yoluc)
Final Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am Driver standings:
Champions: Ahmad Al Harthy/Jonny Adam, 116 pts
2. Martin Kodric/Patrick Kujala, 87 pts
3. Salih Yoluc, 72 pts
Final Blancpain Endurance Cup Pro-Am Team standings:
Champions: Oman Racing, 116 pts
2. Barwell Motorsport, 88.pts
3. Black Falcon, 63 pts