Muscat: Oman Racing’s Ahmad Al Harthy begins the next chapter of his successful racing career this coming weekend at Monza in Italy when the 2018 Blancpain Endurance Cup gets underway with the opening three-hour race of the season.
Omani star Al Harthy, who famously took a history-making championship win in the globe’s biggest and best GT endurance series last year in the Pro-Am category, has moved up into the even more competitive Silver Cup for the coming season and is absolutely relishing the challenge.
With his driver grading having increased from Bronze to Silver by way of his title success in 2017, Al Harthy faces a whole new test for the new campaign where he will be joined by two team mates for the full season, Euan McKay and Charlie Eastwood.
Already the partnership has proven to be strong in the pre-season Blancpain Endurance Cup tests, where Oman Racing – which is powered by the engineering strength of British team TF Sport – made a smooth and consistent start to 2018.
Now, looking ahead to Monza a few days from now where the entry list features no fewer than 54 cars across all classes, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Air, National Bank of Oman, Omantel, Barr Al Jissah and Amouage-backed driver Al Harthy is hungry to be back racing.
“It’s been a very long time since the final round of Blancpain last season, so I can’t wait to be back in race action this weekend at Monza,” he said.
“After winning the Pro-Am championship last year, an absolute dream come true for everyone at Oman Racing, now we face a big new challenge after stepping-up to the Silver Cup – but it’s a challenge we’re ready for and really looking forward to.
“Euan, Charlie and I are working well together, they’re both quick drivers and I think we have a very competitive line-up for the new season. Having said that, there’s a lot of very tough opposition out there from the likes of Mercedes, Lamborghini, Audi and Jaguar, so we know we have to work harder than ever. This is what we’re here for, though, to compete against the best in the world.”
Monza, of course, is a track where the Omani has enjoyed fantastic success in the past, not least 12 months ago when he – and then team mate Jonny Adam – secured a fabulous Pro-Am win, laying the perfect foundation for the eventual championship triumph.
In 2016, Al Harthy almost climbed the Pro-Am podium at Monza too with a competitive top four finish.
“It’s always fantastic to be going back to Monza, it’s one of the most iconic race tracks in the world, where Oman Racing has celebrated a lot of success,” added Al Harthy.
“We know our Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 has been strong at Monza in the past, so hopefully we can get our 2018 season off to the strongest start possible in Italy – we’ll be trying our absolute best.”
Following official testing on April 20, an additional free practice session will take place on April 21, ahead of pre-qualifying at 17.00 (local time). On April 22, final qualifying will commence at 09.45 (local time) with the opening round of the season scheduled to start at 15.00 (local time).