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Category: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East

Ahmad Al HarthyOman 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.

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

Photo by Porsche Middle East & Africa

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

Ahmad Al Harthy - Porsche MEOmani motor racing star Ahmad Al Harthy will make his first race appearance of 2012 during the fifth event of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East this coming weekend, at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

Taking place on Friday, 2nd March, and Saturday, 3rd March, rounds nine and 10 of the 2011/2012 Middle East season will make history for Porsche motorsport across the globe with the introduction of the first ever Porsche GT3 night race.

Just a week on from announcing the Oman Air Racing Team’s return to the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship this year for the full 2012 campaign in the UK, 30-year-old Ahmad is delighted to confirm his participation in the Doha spectacular – the penultimate event of the Middle East series.

Made possible through the support of his prestigious sponsorship portfolio, namely Oman Air, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Ministry of Tourism, Nawras, National Bank of Oman and Muscat Eye Laser Centre, Ahmad will form part of an expected grid of 18 cars at Losail. Should this come to fruition, it will be the largest entry in the Middle East championship since its inauguration in 2009.

“I’m really looking forward to being back on the grid in the Middle East series, it’s very important to race in the region whenever we can”, said the Muscat racer, “Thank you as always to my fantastic sponsors for making this possible, it’ll be my first time racing in Qatar and my first ever night race as well so I really can’t wait to enjoy the whole experience.”

So far in the 2011/2012 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, Ahmad has contested six of the eight races. Prior to missing the previous event at Reem International Circuit in Saudi Arabia, the Omani was in the thick of the title battle with three podium results to his credit – including race victory during the FIA Formula One World Championship support event at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi.

For rounds nine and 10 of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, Ahmad is aiming for the podium once more on what will be his final outing of the campaign due to the last two races of the season clashing with the opening rounds of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship in England.

“Obviously this weekend will be something completely new to me, a new track and a new format with the night racing, but being back in the car in racing conditions will be great preparation for the start of the UK championship which begins at the end of March”, he added, “Hopefully we can sign off our time in the Middle East series with two more podiums at least.”

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

Photo by Porsche Middle East & Africa

Ahmad Al HarthyOmani star Ahmad Al Harthy took the best win of his motor racing career at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, 13th November, with an imperious lights-to-flag performance during the fourth round of the 2011/2012 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.

Forming part of the support bill to the FIA Formula One World Championship’s annual visit to Yas Marina, the Oman Air Racing Team driver’s maiden victory in Porsche ME has hoisted him to within juts six points of the series lead. More importantly than that though, the raising of the Omani flag on the podium at an F1 event marked the proudest moment of the patriotic 30-year-old’s career.

Starting on pole position, after an outstanding performance in qualifying on Saturday, the Oman Air, Nawras, National Bank of Oman, Brand Oman, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs and Oman Ministry of Tourism-backed driver made a perfect getaway.

Steadily increasing his advantage at the front, Ahmad ran unchallenged throughout the 14 laps and put together a faultless race to win by over four seconds – capping off a memorable weekend. As in round three on Saturday, in which he finished runner-up, Ahmad once again set the fastest lap.

“From start to finish this is the best race and the best win of my career”, said the ecstatic racer, “I’m so, so happy with this result. We made a great start, everything went well and we took the fastest lap again so it really couldn’t have been any more perfect. We knew we had the pace to do this here this weekend.

“To me this is a home win, the Middle East is where I’m from and this is the closest thing I have to a home race. By far the proudest moment of my career was to see the Omani flag flying high above the podium on an F1 weekend. It’s the most prestigious motorsport championship in the world, to achieve a result like this on a Grand Prix weekend is incredible…I’m almost lost for words.”

Notably for the past two weekends, first in Dubai and now in Abu Dhabi, the Muscat-born driver has been competing with number 41 on his Porsche 911 GT3. The reason for this has now been clarified by the Omani…

“We’ve worked so hard these past six years to achieve a moment like this, I dedicate this win to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. The reason we’ve been running number 41 on the car in Porsche ME is to celebrate His Majesty’s 41st year of rule in Oman. It’s amazing to celebrate the National Holiday in Oman with this success.”

Rounds five and six of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East are expected to take place in Abu Dhabi next month – the date of the event is yet to be confirmed.

2011/2012 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Driver Standings (after Rd4):
1st Abdulaziz Al Faisal, 72pts; 2nd Bandar Alesayi, 68pts; 3rd Ahmad Al Harthy, 66pts

Photo by Porsche Middle East & Africa.