Ahmad Al Harthy set for first outing in world’s biggest endurance race

Sports Saturday 03/June/2023 15:20 PM
By: Times News Service
Ahmad Al Harthy set for first outing in world’s biggest endurance race
Muscat: World motorsport’s greatest and most prestigious race, the annual Le Mans 24 Hours, welcomes Ahmad Al Harthy and the Oman Racing team for the first time this year – the huge event marking the fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship season.
Taking place on 10/11 June at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France, the build-up to the 24H Le Mans is already underway ahead of the first official test sessions on Sunday, 4 June, with the squad having unveiled a special new livery for its Aston Martin GTE. Notably too, Al Harthy’s debut in the endurance classic will form part of the race’s landmark centenary year.
The crown jewel event of the FIA WEC calendar couldn’t come at a better time for the Oman Racing with TF Sport team, the squad heading to France off the back of a season-best third place last time out at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
Following two challenging races to begin Oman Racing’s maiden season in World Endurance, at Sebring in America and Portimao in Portugal, a welcome change to the Balance of Performance rulings meant the No.25 Aston Martin Vantage was able to compete on an even footing at Spa.
After chalking-up his first GTE Am pole position in style with a superb performance at the Ardennes track, Al Harthy then starred in the race along with team-mates Charlie Eastwood and Michael Dinan to secure a first WEC podium finish, mere tenths of a second shy of the runner-up position.
Climbing into eighth place in both the GTE Am driver and team standings as a result, the trio now head to Le Mans with confidence high and a determination to challenge strongly in the greatest and most spectacular race global motor racing has to offer.
While the 100th anniversary installment of the 24H Le Mans will mark a career milestone for Oman’s most successful racing driver, Al Harthy has, of course, raced as part of the Le Mans 24 Hours event previously in the ‘Road to Le Mans’ support races on two occasions. Back in 2017 he claimed a double victory, returning in 2021 and again finishing on the podium – that time alongside Dinan.
Competition in the GTE Am class will be fierce, with 14 entries from WEC joined by six other standalone entries. All told, including prototype cars from the Hypercar and LMP2 classes, the combined grid for this year’s 24H Le Mans is expected to be north of 60 cars.
As ever, Al Harthy will be supported by his prestigious portfolio of partners Oman Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, OQ, Omantel and MHD-ITICS, with huge numbers of fans also set to make the journey from Oman to France to cheer-on their home hero.
Ahmad Al Harthy: “I truly cannot wait for Le Mans week to begin, this is such a huge event for everyone at Oman Racing with TF Sport and the biggest race of my entire career so far. Le Mans is such a famous event around the world, there is so much history associated with it and I am unbelievably proud to be representing Oman on the biggest stage of them all in endurance racing.
“Everyone has been preparing so hard behind the scenes and we head to Le Mans in very good spirits after the podium finish at Spa last time out in WEC. We’re obviously very experienced in 24 hour races from GT World Challenge Europe, where we have won of course, but Le Mans is another level again. It really is going to be an amazing experience, and we intend to do Oman proud.”
Opening practice for this year’s 24H Le Mans will get underway at 10.00 local time on Sunday, 4 June, with session two following at 15.30. On Wednesday, 7 June, a further practice session will begin at 14.00 ahead of qualifying at 19.00 – in the latter the top eight from each class will progress to ‘Hyperpole’ on Thursday, 8 June. Wednesday concludes with another practice at 22.00.