Oman's motor sport star Ahmad al Harthy hopes that all these changes are for the good as he embarks on a fresh challenge in 2017 that will take the 35 year old Muscat-based driver to five circuits in the Blancpain GT Series, and also to Le Mans, France and Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Ahmad, along with his co-driver Jonny Adam, unveiled their plans for the year at a press meet on Wednesday, and the duo expressed confidence as title contenders for the Blancpain GT Series in the Pro-Am class.
Ahmad begins the season with the first race in Monza, Italy on April 22-23. While showcasing their new Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 race car, the duo announced that this year, Oman Racing Team has been re-branded as Oman Racing.
And their title ambitions will be fuelled by the expertise of their new technical team, Britain's TF Sport, along with Aston Martin Racing.
With Ahmad celebrating the tenth anniversary of his racing career, the majority of his supporters have been steadfast over the years with the Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Air, NBO, Omantel and Barr al Jissah reiterating their backing for the Omani star.
On Wednesday, Amouage joined that bandwagon of Ahmad's supporters to add spice to the fragrance of the success that Oman Racing has been achieving over the years. Also, the GT series will have a new destination as it holds the finale in Barcelona, Spain for the first time.
‘Consistency is key’
With double British GT champion Adam, an Aston Martin Racing factory driver, by his side, Ahmad expressed satisfaction on last year's campaign when the team finished overall fourth, including a podium finish in Silverstone, UK.
“We had a good season last year and we want to build on the lessons we have learnt. Consistency is the key and it would be the area of focus for myself, Jonny and my team.
“The Blancpain Endurance Series is one of the hardest championships in the world. With TF Sport to power us this season, we are definitely aiming for title this time. TF Sport is one of the top endurance teams, having won the inaugural Michelin Le Mans Cup and British GT titles in 2016,” said Ahmad.
Adam said that 'hopefully we will celebrate Ahmad's tenth anniversary in motor sport in a grand manner'.
Ahmad said that he was extremely excited to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours support race and also confirmed his return to the Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi.
‘Exciting times ahead’
TF Sport Director Tom Ferrier said, “This is a hugely exciting programme for TF Sport. The Blancpain GT Series is the toughest GT3 platform in Europe and we relish the chance of competing for honours in the Pro-Am class. Ahmad comes with years of experience in the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 and has proven his mettle in Blancpain over the last few years.
“TF Sport is really looking forward to working with Ahmad and Oman Racing and also exploring the motor sport opportunities that exist in Oman.”
Fahad al Raisi, director-general of development at the Ministry of Sports Affairs, Mohamed al Shikely, vice-president marketing of Oman Air, John Chang, general manager, retail at NBO, Hamdan al Harasi, acting vice-president, corporate strategy at Omantel, Firas Matraji, CEO of Barr al Jissah, and Tim Harvey, Amouage head of retail (Middle East, Gulf, Africa and Far East) also spoke on the occasion.
Ahmad will make his first official appearance of the year during the pre-season Blancpain Endurance Cup test days at Paul Ricard in France on March 13-14.
Blancpain GT Series calendar: April 22-23: Monza, Italy; May 13-14: Silverstone, UK; June 23-24: Paul Ricard, France; July 29-30: Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium; September 30-October 1: Barcelona, Spain. Other races: July 4: Total 24 Hours Test: Spa-Francorchamps. June 17: Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup - Le Mans 24 Hours Support Race, France. December 16: Gulf 12 Hours, Abu Dhabi, UAE.