Ahmad Al HarthyAhmad Al Harthy and the Oman Air Racing Team produced a battling performance in an action-packed ninth round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Losail International Circuit in Qatar on Friday, 2nd March – the Omani racer posting a top six finish in his first ever ‘night race’.

Marking a historic moment for Porsche GT3 racing across the world, the inaugural floodlit race ensured a strong grid of 18 cars was present for the latest round of the 2011/2012 Middle East season and despite some intense action Ahmad managed to bring his car home unscathed.

Although having been out of his Porsche 911 GT3 since mid-December, the 30-year-old was instantly up to speed on his maiden visit to the Doha track and posted the second fastest time in pre-event practice. Qualifying wasn’t quite as straight-forward and without the benefit of a fully clear, smooth lap, he had to settle for fifth on the grid for the first of the weekend’s two night races.

Making one of his customary electric starts, Ahmad steered his Oman Air, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Ministry of Tourism, Nawras, National Bank of Oman and Muscat Eye Laser Centre supported car into third position as he pushed hard for a podium challenge.

Embroiled in a tense battle for third over the first couple of laps, positions chopped and changed but as the action became increasingly close between a group of five cars the Omani received the worst of it and was pushed back to seventh. Maintaining good composure, the Muscat racer fought back into sixth place to cap a very eventful Qatar debut.

“I really enjoyed my first experience of racing at night”, said Ahmad, “Honestly, with so many powerful lights around the circuit it’s like racing in the daytime – it’s like the brightness you see when a football pitch is floodlit, there isn’t much difference really from the daytime only that the sky beyond the lights is black!

“Practice went well for us but in qualifying I wasn’t able to get a clear, smooth lap so fifth was the best we could hope for. I made a good start to the race, got up to third, but then there was a real back and forth battle for the place and in the end I got the worst of it.”

He added: “Anyway, we learnt a lot for tomorrow’s race and we’ll definitely be all the stronger for that. We’re aiming to go out on a high for our final race in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East for sure, we want to give the sponsors something to celebrate. I’m looking forward to it.”

Round 10 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East will take place at Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar, later today, Saturday, 3rd March.

Keep up to speed with Ahmad’s 2012 progress at his official website www.ahmadalharthy.com follow him on Twitter @AlHarthyRacing or visit the Ahmad Al Harthy Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ahmad-Al-Harthy/111700892183537