By: Ashok Purohit

Oman’s top endurance racer Ahmad al Harthy is all set to make his debut with the Oman Racing Team (ORT) in the prestigious Gulf 12 Hours at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE on December 10-11.

Speaking to Muscat Daily, Ahmad, who concluded his regular season with a Silver Cup victory and was part of ORT that finished runner-up in the 2015 British GT Championship in September, said, “This is the first time that ORT will compete in the prestigious Gulf 12 Hours at Yas Marina. The team, powered by Motorbase and driving Aston Martin, will be competing under ORT’s licence for the first time.

“I was very keen to compete in the race. To get the full set-up that I had in my Europe and UK campaigns over the past couple of years was a thing close to my heart. I am extremely happy that Aston Martin will make its debut in this event.

“It is a milestone to race in a glamorous endurance race in front of regional and Omani fans as the venue will give a good opportunity for a lot of my supporters to come down to Abu Dhabi and enjoy the event.”

The Omani racer added, “It is a very competitive race and it suits my style of racing. It is the fifth edition of the race and we will be up against some of the best drivers from across the world.”

Ahmad will be joined by his Blancpain Endurance Series partner Jonny Adam and the experienced Darren Turner, both Aston Martin work drivers.

“To have Jonny and Turner as my teammates will be a great learning experience and I am looking forward to it,” the 34 year old said.

“This is an off-season race and it falls in line with my plans to spend more track time and prepare for the next season. The grid comprising some of the leading Ferrari and Mercedes teams is expected to feature 22 cars,” said the Muscat-based driver.

“It is not the first time that I will be racing at the Yas Marina circuit, having contested there during the Porsche Middle East Championship. In fact, I won a race at that venue in 2012, so it will be nice to have a go there once again.”

The fifth Gulf 12 Hours will feature a variety of GT machinery, including GT3 cars and various classes.

Among the confirmed teams are 12 Ferrari entries, including defending champion AF Corse, Kessel Racing and Dragon Racing.

The event follows a special two-part format, which sees competitors fight for victory over separate six-hour races, separated by a two-hour break in which the teams can work on their cars.

The second half of the event encapsulates the full excitement of endurance racing with day and night racing as the Yas Marina floodlights illuminate the Yas Marina setting.