Oman Racing on podium

L-R:  Eastwood, Ahmad and Yoluc on the podium

Racing stars continue to drive the feel-good factor of Oman sports  in recent times. On Sunday, it was the turn of Muscat-based racer Ahmad al Harthy, who led a remarkable run to steer his Oman Racing to the podium in the Pro-Am class during a rain-affected first round of the 2019 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup in Monza, Italy.

The experienced Ahmad, along with his teammates -   Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc - finished third in their new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 car despite suffering two mid-race punctures. Having claimed a dominant pole position, the team’s victory chances among the seven Pro-Am entries suffered due to the punctures when Yoluc was on the wheels.

Ahmad began the main three-hour race after P1 in qualifying and a sensational run allowed him to hand over to Turkish Yoluc for the second session with the lead in class intact.

However, two punctures in quick succession destroyed the team’s realistic push for the win.

Battling back well from the two unscheduled pit-stops, Yoluc and then, Eastwood, completed the race in a combined time of 2hrs:01.723s. It placed the team overall 35th among a large grid of 46 cars.

Tempesta Racing trio of Chris Buncombe, Jonathan Hui and Chris Froggatt in their Ferrari 488 GT3 took the class honours in a time of 2hrs01m.144secs.

Dinamic Motorsport scored a phenomenal debut overall win in the season-opening contest, thanks to a flawless performance from its Porsche 911 GT3 R crew of Andrea Rizzoli, Zaid Ashkanani and Klaus Bachler.

“Finishing on the podium in the first race of the season is fantastic. It is a solid result, especially with everything that happened with the double puncture,” said Ahmad.

The podium came in challenging conditions as heavy rains overnight and throughout on Sunday morning left Monza soaked for the race start.  Safety car began the race and after two laps, proper action got under way with Ahmad finishing his stint with the team holding the Pro-Am class lead.

Speaking on the team’s excellent qualifying result on Sunday morning, Ahmad said, “We were over the moon with our pole position despite the conditions being  tricky. All three of us did a great job in the car with some great team work.”

He added, “However, the race conditions were very difficult. I was hardly able to see anything but I managed to keep the class lead and pull a gap to P2 until the safety car appeared. When Salih took over we couldn’t believe the bad luck as the car suffered twin punctures. Good luck, however, ensured that Charlie brought the car home for us to finish with points.”

The next round is at the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in the UK on May 11-12.

Overall results: 1 Dinamic Motorsport – Porsche 911 GT3 R (Klaus Bachler/Andrea Rizzoli/Zaid Ashkanani), 2

Orange 1 FFF Racing Team–Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (Marco Mapelli/Andrea Caldarelli/Dennis Lind), 3 Black Falcon–Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Maro Engel/Luca Stolz/Yelmer Buurman), 35 Oman Racing–Aston Martin Vantage GT3 (Ahmad/Eastwood/Yoluc).

Pro-Am driver’s standings: 3 Ahmad/Eastwood/Yoluc (16 pts).

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