Qatar Podium Caps Off Ahmad Al Harthy's Porsche ME Challenge
Oman Air Racing Team star Ahmad Al Harthy produced an impressive podium performance during round 10 of the 2011/2012 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East in Qatar on Saturday, 3rd March - a great way for the Muscat racer to round-off his final weekend in the championship.Securing a well deserved third place finish in the second of the weekend's 'night races' at Losail International Circuit, having qualified an excellent third fastest earlier in the day, the 30-year-old concluded his involvement in the Middle East series on a tremendous high.Not only that, the result will boost the Omani's confidence ahead of the start of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship which commences on 31st March/1st April at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit. Due to his commitments to the UK-based series, Ahmad is unable to contest the clashing Middle East finale at Bahrain International Circuit."I'm extremely delighted to end my time in the Middle East series on a high, being on the podium for only my second ever night race is a great feeling and it's been fantastic to race in Qatar this weekend - it's certainly been one to remember", he commented, "It's also the perfect way to begin preparing for the UK season, competing in the Middle East championship has really developed me as a driver."Temperatures at the Doha track on Saturday dropped significantly lower than on Friday, some 15 degrees cooler, and high winds made for difficult conditions throughout practice and qualifying, although Ahmad took everything in his stride.Lapping fourth fastest during practice, Ahmad put together an impressive run in qualifying and took his Oman Air, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Ministry of Tourism, Nawras, National Bank of Oman and Muscat Eye Laser Centre-backed car to third on the timesheets - little more than a single 10th of a second shy of the front row of the grid.Making a great start to round 10 under the Losail floodlights, Ahmad initially battled hard for second place with experienced Austrian driver Clemens Schmid but wisely opted to settle for third position and his fourth podium result from eight races."We started off with a very good qualifying performance and then our race was very strong as well, we had consistent pace and I was able to keep pushing throughout - I set my best lap just a couple of laps from the end", said Ahmad."I challenged (Clemens) Schmid for second over the first two laps but I decided it was better to settle for third place and try and pull a gap on the cars behind. We managed to do that quite well actually as the gap back to fourth in the end was more than 12 seconds. Friday wasn't what we wanted but we definitely made up for that by getting back on the podium in our final race, I'm delighted."Ahmad and the Oman Air Racing Team now look ahead to the start of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship at the end of March. Before then, he will take part in several test days including the category's only officially timed test of the pre-season on Tuesday, 13th March, at Silverstone.