PARIS: Ahmad Al Harthy made an excellent start to the third event of the Blancpain Endurance Cup season at Paul Ricard in France on Friday, 31st May, with the Oman Racing squad lapping second fastest in both free practice and pre-qualifying.
Preparing fantastically well for this morning’s all-important final qualifying session at the Le Castellet circuit, as well as this evening’s eagerly awaited six-hour race, Muscat’s Al Harthy and team-mates Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc produced terrific pace and great consistency.
Al Harthy started off with the fifth fastest time in Pro-Am in the Bronze test session, delivering a lap of 1m57.251 secondsat the wheel of the National Bank of Oman, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Omantel and Barr Al Jissah liveried No.97 Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
In the subsequent 90-minute free practice period, featuring all 49 cars from the various classes in the championship, the Oman Racing entry was second in the Pro-Am class and just a fraction outside the overall top 10.
Producing an improved effort of 1m54.817 seconds, the lap was less than 0.4 seconds away from the Pro-Am pace and just 0.9 seconds shy of the fastest time of all set by the ‘Pro’ class Porsche of Dinamic Motorsport.
Clearly carrying good form into pre-qualifying, in that 90-minute run Al Harthy, Eastwood and Yoluc were second in Pro-Am once again but an enhanced sixth quickest overall with a tremendous time of 1m53.382 seconds – less than 0.3 seconds away from the quickest time of the day.
“We had a very good day of testing at Paul Ricard, all sessions on Friday went smoothly and we worked on a lot of things for qualifying pace and race pace”, said Al Harthy, “We’re all very comfortable with the car and know how important this six hour race will be for the championship.
“We’re all looking forward to it and hopefully we can qualify well again, as we have all season so far, and get some good points from the race. It’s a long race, very challenging and with the added test of the night-time running later on, so consistency and reliability will both be key. Everyone is focused on continuing the strong start we have had, hopefully we can continue that momentum.”
Ahead of round three of the Blancpain Endurance Cup later today, Al Harthy, Eastwood and Yoluc hold second position in the Pro-Am championship standings having finished third at Monza in Italy during round one and second at Silverstone in the UK last time out.