Earlier this week, 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Pro Am 1 champion Ahmad al Harthy announced plans to move into endurance motor racing ahead of the start of this year's season. He will be joining the Avon Tyres British GT Championship as part of the current title holding team Motorbase Performance. The team will be officially known as Oman Air Motorbase and Ahmed will be racing alongside current British GT champion Michael Caine.
“It’s a different style of championship that I am entering now and the desire to move to endurance racing was part of my desire to move up into an even higher league of motor racing,” Ahmad explained. “This is a bigger and more prestigious championship. I graduated from the Pro Am 1 GB category to the highest level by entering the British GT championship. We have moved from a support event to the title event of the weekend. An average of 28 cars take part in this event and that’s a huge grid. We will be going up against Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins and now even Bentleys. So this should be very competitive.”
Ahmad will be racing alongside Michael in a Porsche 911 GT3R car that has been specifically designed for endurance races. “In the new cars, we have moved from a 460hp engine to one that produces more than 500hp. The new car has a better aerodynamics package, components and parts built for endurance racing and we will be pulling into pit stops to refuel and change tyres etc. It’s a step in the right direction and will hopefully take us to the roots of Le Mans, the 24-hour endurance race. That is the final goal and this is where all drivers have to start to eventually to get there,” Ahmad said.
The format in the British GT Championship is one, two and three hour races with two drives taking turns at the wheel in each GT fixture and driving time is divided equally between them. Drivers rotate when making pit stops. “I have been involved in sprint racing for the most part and although I have taken part in a few endurance races in the past, this format will be quite new to me,” Ahmad said. “I have been preparing for this for the past few months and I wanted to be prepared physically and mentally and I feel like I am ready for a championship like this. In the next two weeks, as we go in to testing, I will be ready for the championship.”
For Ahmad, it has always been about steady progression towards realising his goal of racing in the Le Mans 24 Hour Race. “I didn't want to jump into a whole different kind of racing without being prepared for it,” he explained. “We realised that this was the competition that would be the perfect progression for us and we realised this over the last three months. I feel we are in the right place to move in to this category. We hope to learn from my teammate, from the format so there will be a lot of different developments this year.”
Ahmad has raced against Michael previously and this will be the first time the two will be competing as teammates. “The team atmosphere is already heading in the right direction although I am still here. It will take many hours, days, months to finally develop into the perfect team, but I am looking forward to it,” he said.
Also speaking on the occasion, Fahad Abdullah al Raisi, Director General of Sports Development and Welfare, Ministry of Sports Affairs, said, “We have been supporting Ahmad from the very beginning and he has grown into a national icon for the youth and we hope to continue this partnership and we wish him the best of luck in this new phase of his career.”