Muscat: Ahmad Al Harthy continued his strong pre-season Blancpain Endurance Cup testing programme at Monza, where the Oman Racing team acquired vital set-up data ahead of the opening round of 2018 at the Italian venue – which takes place next month.
Following a strong two-day outing at Paul Ricard in France during the last weekend, where Al Harthy and team-mates Euan McKay and Charlie Eastwood joined the rest of the bumper Blancpain entry for a busy and fruitful officially timed outing, the squad headed straight to Italy for some essential track time at Monza.
Picking up where they left off a couple of days before, the No.97 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 ran like clockwork and the three Oman Racing drivers were able to plough through a full and complete schedule of set-up work at the legendary high-speed Italian circuit.
As at Paul Ricard, full focus throughout the day at Monza was placed on fine-tuning the Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Air, National Bank of Oman, Omantel, Barr Al Jissah and Amouage liveried car and Al Harthy was extremely happy with the day’s work.
“Last week was very strong for Oman Racing, the car ran without any problems and we were able to work through our full programme of preparations for the new season so we’re all very satisfied with our current position”, said the Omani.
“Obviously, none of us know exactly where we will be until the first qualifying session of the season at Monza, but we’re happy with the work we have done up to now and the tests at Paul Ricard and Monza couldn’t have gone any more smoothly for us so we’re pleased about that.”
Oman Racing, of course, has enjoyed good success at Monza previously with their Aston Martin and during the season-opener in Italy last year the squad made history with its first ever Pro-Am class victory - the perfect start to its title winning season.
Now running in the Silver class, as a result of Al Harthy’s driver grading being enhanced for 2018, the team faces a new challenge this year but it’s one the whole Oman Racing squad is more than ready for and very much relishing.
“We can’t wait for the first round next month, it feels like a very long time since we were last racing so Monza can’t come soon enough,” Al Harthy said.
“Last season was incredible, an absolute dream come true, but that was last year and all of our focus now is on doing the very best job we can in the Silver class this year. It’s going to be a big challenge, but one we’re looking forward to.”
Practice and pre-qualifying for the first round of the Blancpain Endurance Cup season at Monza will take place on April 21, with qualifying and the big three-hour race following on April 22.
2018 Blancpain Endurance Cup schedule
April 21-22: Rd1 Monza, Italy
May 19-20: Rd2 Silverstone, UK
June 1-2: Rd3 Paul Ricard, France
July 26-29: Rd4 Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium (Total 24 Hours of Spa)
September 29-30: Rd5 Barcelona, Spain
July 3: Official Total 24 Hours of Spa Test: Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium