#OmanPride: Speed thrills Oman's Ahmad Al Harthy

More sports Friday 22/April/2016 20:37 PM
By: Times News Service
#OmanPride: Speed thrills Oman's Ahmad Al Harthy

Muscat: Although he has been a racing enthusiast since the age of seven, like most other little boys of his age, it was not until much later that Ahmad Al Harthy, Oman’s popular racing driver actually got behind the wheel to do what he enjoyed the most—racing.
He is known for his racing skills and his lovely smile.
Now, at 34, Al Harthy has come a long way from his first car racing experience in 2006 at the Bahrain-based Thunder Arabia Championship, where he broke new ground as the first Omani driver to compete in formula racing.
He recently announced his participation in the Blancpain Endurance Cup this year with the rebranded Oman Racing Team, where Al Harthy will steer an Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 race car.
Although he has been successful ever since he first started racing in 2006, Al Harthy had to face some initial struggle.
“The sport wasn’t very familiar for the people here, I was the first Omani in this new sport and lot of people thought it was very dangerous.”
However, Al Harthy spoke to his parents about the sport and how important it was for him, and managed to earn their support. “My parents understood and stood by my side and that was very important for me, both morally and financially.”
Made a choice
This wasn’t the only issue for Al Harthy; he was also caught up between work and his passion for driving and had to make a choice.
“In 2006, I worked as an auditor at EY, and after six months into the sport, I sat with my parents and then I spoke to my manager at the company. He told me to take a year off and give my all to the sport, after which I could come back to work if I wanted.”
However, as most of us know, he never went back to work again because he totally loved the sport and found that he could do much more with it if he gave a 100 per cent to it. After taking this significant decision, Al Harthy participated and succeeded in several tournaments that followed, including the Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain.
Fast forward to 2016, he is all excited about his participation in the Blancpain Endurance Cup, which will take place this year.
“The 2016 programme for the endurance race is very exciting, our team has a new look, we have new teammates, an improved squad, and it’s great to see that the Oman racing team will be representing the only Aston Martin out there, which is another very important thing for us. Our collaboration with Aston Martin UK is growing and very strong and very important for the team, we are the only Arab entrant, which is another very important role we have to play, but more than that, we are promoting our country.”
When asked about what keeps him going, Al Harthy said, “The motivation and hunger is there, and I feel like I am at the fittest level now, I have improved a lot over the years. We as racing drivers always want more support, but we have to be realistic at times due to the tough economic situation.”
Not retiring
The good news for all Al Harthy fans is that he is not thinking of retiring anytime soon, and will keep going until he is physically fit and enjoys his sport.
“Racing is not a hobby, it’s my profession now and so it’s very important to be realistic and keep going. As competitors we are racing against those who are in their 40s, I have another 10 years in me and hopefully more, but you never know, we have to be realistic and improve ourselves always.”
For Al Harthy, the only key to lowering pressure is to work harder, “I have pressure on me every day, this is a 24-hour sport and even when I am on a break, I am thinking of racing, in fact I think of it every few minutes, but I enjoy it, and about the pressure, you just have to convert them and make negatives into positives and reduce that pressure by working harder. Even now, I can’t wait to get back into the car, and make our country proud.”