After Star Hyperpole Performance From Al Harthy
Ahmad Al Harthy secures front-row GTE Am start in first 24H Le Mans
Omani performs superbly in final ‘Hyperpole’ session with P2 time
Charlie Eastwood delivers great qualifying to progress team to Hyperpole
Oman Racing enjoys excellent build-up to world’s biggest endurance race
Le Mans 24 Hours debutant Ahmad Al Harthy produced an excellent performance during the Hyperpole qualifying session at the Circuit de la Sarthe on Thursday, 8th June, to ensure the Oman Racing with TF Sport team will begin the weekend’s legendary race from second on the GTE Am grid.
Tasked with delivering the best performance he could in the grid-determining final 30-minute qualifying session for the 2023 staging of the 24H Le Mans, Oman’s number one racing driver was electrifying around the huge 8.4-mile (13.6-kilometre) track.
Going third fastest on his first flying lap in the newly liveried orange No.25 Aston Martin Vantage, the Oman Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, OQ, Omantel and MHD-ITICS partnered racer then improved to second the next time around with a lap of 3m53.905 seconds, just 0.3 seconds shy of pole at that point, before pitting prior to another attempt.
Bronze graded driver Al Harthy readied to try and improve but on his first flyer back out of the pits, red flags were shown with five minutes to run. After a short delay the action resumed, meaning each competitor had just one flying lap.
Remaining second fastest at the finish, the Omani secured a dream front-row start for the landmark centenary 24H Le Mans – which also acts as the fourth round of Oman Racing’s maiden FIA World Endurance Championship campaign.
Starting off quick in testing at the French circuit last Sunday, 4th June, and then again in the opening free practice on Wednesday afternoon prior to the first one-hour qualifying session, Al Harthy and team-mates Michael Dinan and Charlie Eastwood each delivered strong and competitive pace.
Aston Martin factory racer Eastwood, the squad’s Gold graded driver, set things up beautifully for Hyperpole in Wednesday’s qualifying, storming to the top of the timing screens and looking set for the fastest time in GTE Am with 20 minutes to run – a lap of 3m52.431 seconds.
Electing to remain in the pits thereafter, confident the time was good enough to be one of the top eight qualifiers for Hyperpole, that was indeed the case and the Oman Racing entry ended up fourth quickest. Following a night-time practice and then additional practice on Thursday afternoon, all focus turned to Hyperpole where Al Harthy truly did deliver.
Ahmad Al Harthy:
“It was amazing to be driving in Hyperpole, obviously Charlie made it happen for us after his fantastic job in qualifying and I really did the best I could. It was a special feeling to drive the track with so few cars out there, we gave it everything and it’s a very respectable position to start our first ever Le Mans 24 Hours from.
“We’re really looking forward to starting the race from such a good position and it’s a very proud moment indeed, to be here at the biggest endurance race in the world representing Oman and all of our amazing partners this way. It’s going to be a very long, very tough and incredibly challenging race but everyone at the team is focused on doing the very best we can.”
With no track action for the 24H Le Mans runners at the Circuit de la Sarthe today, Oman Racing will be back on track on Saturday, 10th June, for the pre-race warm-up from 12.00 local time. The race itself will then commence at 16.00 – a true landmark moment for Al Harthy and Oman Racing.