Muscat –Muscat – European Le Mans Series debutant Ahmad al Harthy came up with an absolutely fantastic performance in the first qualifying session of the 2022 season at Circuit Paul Ricard on Saturday, to secure a front-row start in the GTE class for Sunday’s four-hour race in the south of France.
Holding pole position with only two minutes of the session to go, the Oman Racing driver did improve his time further the next time around but just missed out on a dream grid-topping effort by a mere 0.154 seconds in the No.69 Aston Martin Vantage GTE.
Strong and competitive during the pre-event build up along with team-mates Sam De Haan and Aston Martin factory driver Marco Sorensen, Al Harthy was happy with his qualifying show.
“I’m really happy with our qualifying”, said Al Harthy, “We were very close to being P1 but a front row of the grid start is something great for my first weekend in ELMS. It’s a new format for me, a new car, so I’m happy with my performance and there is so much more to improve on. It’s going to be a long race, so we’re starting in the perfect place on the front row.
“From a teamwork perspective, we’ve all been working a lot to understand the car and understand our race pace. Hopefully, everything will go to plan in the race. Once again, I am delighted to have qualified on the front row of GTE – a big thank you to everyone at Oman Racing,” he said.
Beginning the week with two days of very productive testing at the Le Castellet last Monday and Tuesday, the Oman Racing trio returned to the track on Friday for the first free practice while Al Harthy gained the additional track time in the standalone session for Bronze graded drivers – lapping second fastest in 1m55.106 seconds (274.81 km/h).
After another free practice on Saturday morning, where the No.69 Aston Martin was eighth on the timesheet, the GTE qualifying took place early in the afternoon with Al Harthy behind the wheel – each squad’s ‘Bronze’ drivers tasked with qualifying their respective cars for the weekend’s race.
At the sharp end of the battle throughout, the Omani, supported by the Oman Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, OQ, Omantel and MHD-ITICS, moved onto pole position with just two minutes to go thanks to a lap of 1m55.008 sec.
Although slipping down to second shortly after, Al Harthy responded and improved his time with his next effort to dip below the 1m55sec barrier but ultimately had to settle for a second fastest lap clocking 1m54.909sec (270.68 km/h).