Paul Ricard in France will host the third round of the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series five weeks from now on 27th/28th June.
Blancpain Endurance Series racer Ahmad Al Harthy secured his first ‘Pro Cup’ points of the 2014 season during a hotly contested three-hour race at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday, 25th May, with the result lifting the Oman Racing Team into eighth position in the entrant standings.
Finishing in 10th position overall, ninth in the Pro Cup class, the Omani 32-year-old and team-mates Stephen Jelley and Michael Caine each delivered an excellent turn of pace in their respective one hour stints to emerge as the highest placed of the Aston Martin squads – and the fastest too.
“It was a good race and a good result for everyone in the team”, said Ahmad, “We got what we wanted from the weekend, finishing in the Pro Cup points for the first time is exactly what we set out to achieve. I’m happy with my stint in the car, Stephen and Michael both did a great job, and we’ve got points on the board. That’s what we needed after the retirement at Monza.”
Beginning the second round of the season from an uncharacteristic 20th on the grid overall, after a red flag stoppage in qualifying spoiled the team’s run, British driver Jelley took the opening stint and made excellent progress into 11th position by lap 20.
Disappointingly served with a costly drive-through penalty as one of eight drivers deemed by race officials to have improved in a yellow flag zone, Jelley pitted immediately to try and limit the damage and after rejoining the track he then stopped to hand the car over to Ahmad on lap 30.
With just over an hour of the race completed, the Oman Air, Oman Ministry of Tourism, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Nawras, National Bank of Oman and Al Hashar Group/Aston Martin Oman supported driver threaded into the action in 14th position overall.
With a huge 12 second gap to bridge to the next car, Ahmad reeled off some consistently strong laps and on lap 47 managed to take 13th position from the similar Aston Martin V12 Vantage of regular British GT Championship rival Andrew Howard. Although nudged back to 14th place by the advancing BMW of Nick Catsburg, Ahmad held position for the next seven laps before handing over to Caine.
During the final 60 minute run, which was interrupted by the appearance of the Safety Car, British driver Caine delivered a typically strong and assured performance to bring home the No.44 Oman Racing Team car inside the coveted overall top 10 and ninth in the Pro Cup class. The top three in the Pro Cup were M-Sport Bentley, ART Grand Prix [McLaren] and Belgian Audi Club Team WRT.
“The red flag in qualifying hurt us, we should have been higher up the grid but we came through and the car was great”, explained Ahmad, “We were the quickest of the Aston Martin teams in the end so that’s something very positive. Everything has been a step forward this weekend, we’ve improved the car, we were faster at the pit-stops – everything has been better than Monza, so I’m happy.”
Paul Ricard in France will host the third round of the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series five weeks from now on 27th/28th June. Before then, Ahmad and the Oman Racing Team will be back on track at Silverstone just a few days from now for another three hour race – this time as part of the fourth round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship on Sunday, 1st June.
Provisional 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series ‘Pro Cup’ Driver Standings (after Rd2): =12th Ahmad Al Harthy / Stephen Jelley / Michael Caine, 2pts
Provisional 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series ‘Pro Cup’ Team Standings (after Rd2): 8th Oman Racing Team, 8pts