Muscat – Oman’s Ahmad al Harthy is eyeing a GTE podium finish to kick-start his maiden European Le Mans Series campaign in the second round in Italy on Saturday and Sunday.
Al Harthy showed plenty of early promise but was unlucky in the opening ELMS event of the season at Circuit Paul Ricard in France where he and Oman Racing team-mates Sam De Haan and Marco Sorensen were forced into early retirement after their No.69 Aston Martin Vantage GTE came into contact with another car.
De Haan was at the wheel of the car at the time of the incident and was leading the class early on after Al Harthy had qualified an excellent second fastest. But the damage to the steering caused by contact from an errant LMP3 class car led to instant retirement.
Though it was a frustrating outcome for the entire Oman Racing team, Al Harthy was still happy with the pace and competitiveness shown and the team is high on confidence.
The weekend’s action will also mark the Al Harthy’s first ever visit to the legendary Italian track, a challenge he is looking forward to as the team – which carries support from the Oman Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, OQ, Omantel and MHD-ITICS – look to put the luckless dramas of round one firmly behind them.
“I’ve no doubt our car will be strong again for Imola, as it was at Paul Ricard, and Marco, Sam and I will be competitive and able to push for a strong result and give a real kick-start to our season”, said Al Harthy.
“In qualifying and race trim we were very strong in France and I know the TF Sport guys, who prepare the car, will do an amazing job again as always.
“I can’t wait to race at Imola for the first time, it’s such a famous track and it’s always great being faced with a new challenge. We were able to learn a lot about the GTE car at Paul Ricard so hopefully that will give us a solid base to build from at the weekend. Hopefully we can fight for our first podium in the ELMS at Imola and proudly fly the flag for Oman there.”
Opening free practice and a dedicated session for bronze graded drivers will take place at Imola on Friday, ahead of the second practice session on Saturday, which will lead in to qualifying at 2.05 pm local time. On Sunday, the 4 hours of Imola will get underway at 11.30 am local time with live streaming available online here: https://live.europeanlemansseries.com/en/