GT: Monza challenge awaits Al Harthy as Blancpain Endurance season begins
Apr 10th 2015 – Fresh from the opening two rounds of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship last weekend, Ahmad Al Harthy has arrived with the Oman Racing Team in Monza, Italy, for the season-opening Blancpain Endurance Series race which takes place this Sunday, 12th April.
Embarking on his sophomore season with Aston Martin in the prestigious pan-European sportscar championship, which is being run alongside the Oman Racing Team’s British GT programme for a second consecutive year, Ahmad is relishing the challenge Monza offers and is aiming for a consistent start to the campaign.
Piloting the same Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 car which he races in British GT, the 33-year-old will share driving duties in this weekend’s three-hour Blancpain contest with British drivers Daniel Lloyd and Jonny Adam, the latter a works Aston Martin racer.
Competing in the headline Pro Cup class, the team-mates face an immense challenge against some of the world’s most highly rated professional drivers and manufacturer teams. In the Pro Cup alone, some 24 cars are registered for the opening round while the grid as a whole is expected to feature as many as 60 entries from the likes of McLaren, Lamborghini, BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Ferrari.
As the sole Aston Martin representative in the Pro category, the Oman Racing Team – which is backed by Oman Air, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Ooredoo, National Bank of Oman and Al Hashar Group – is aiming to make a big impression and is focused on a good start to the season.
“It’s very exciting being back in Blancpain and back at Monza, it’s a track with so much history and really is an amazing circuit to drive”, said Ahmad, “It’s certainly a very busy start to the year for us coming straight to Italy from the British GT race last weekend, but we’re enjoying it and determined to start our Blancpain season with a competitive result.
“With Jonny and Dan onboard as my team-mates this season, we’ve got a good chance to do well in the Pro Cup but none of us are underestimating the challenge. The teams and drivers in this series are all first class, true professionals, so we have to be on top of our game right from the off.”
During the corresponding fixture last year, an electrical issue led to a frustrating retirement during the final hour of the race when the Oman Racing Team was in a position to potentially secure a top 10 finish on its Blancpain Endurance Series debut. This time around, and with a full season of experience under their collective belts, the team tackles Monza with a renewed confidence.
“The team did a great job at Monza last year so it was frustrating to have the electrical problem, but the positive thing was how well everyone performed against the might of the factory teams”, said Ahmad, “I can’t wait to get back out on track this weekend and get our Blancpain season underway.”
The opening free practice at Monza will take place at 12.05 (local time) on Saturday, 11th April, with pre-qualifying set to follow at 16.10 (local time). On Sunday, 12th April, final qualifying will begin at 09.00 (local time) with the three-hour race set to get underway at 14.30 (local time).