Oman Racing shows strong recovery and finishes ninth | Times of Oman
Muscat: The Oman Racing with TF Sport trio of Ahmad Al Harthy, Michael Dinan and Charlie Eastwood put in a competitive performance in the opener of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Sebring, USA on Friday to finish ninth in the LMGTE Am Class despite a puncture in the first hour of the race.
The trio were in good position to challenge for the GTE Am podium during the 8 hour race thanks to a superb top 3 qualifying performance from Al Harthy. However, they had to settle for ninth place after losing a lot of time in the first stint.
American racer Dinan started his home race in the No. 25 Aston Martin GTE and held onto third place early, but just five laps into the race a serious crash involving the No. 83 Ferrari 488 prompted the deployment of the safety car.
Almost all of the GTE Am cars made their first pit stops while the race was proceeding under caution, with the exception of D’Station Racing’s Aston Martin. When racing resumed Dinan was fourth, but when the D’Station car pitted about 75 minutes into the race, Dinan moved up to third place.
Not long after, however, a puncture on the right front tire took Dinan off the track and much time was lost bringing the car back to the pits. Returning to the track in 12th place in GTE Am, Dinan pitted again after an hour and 45 minutes.
Al Harthy climbed into the driver’s seat of the Aston Martin for his first FIA WEC racing miles and at that point immediately set the team’s fastest race lap.
Oman, supported by the Oman Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, OQ, Omantel and MHD-ITICS, then climbed to 11th place before the end of the second hour and the closing time on the cars in front.
Dinan returned to the driver’s seat late in hour three before Al Harthy started his second stint in hour four and kept pushing as the team tried to regain as much time as possible. At halfway point in the race, Al Harthy held 10th and lapped impressively, delivering a pace that confirmed the team’s podium potential had it not been for the early puncture.
In the second half of the duel, Eastwood became part of the mix but after so much lost time his only option was to consolidate a later secured ninth place – a character building event in some respects but a clear sign of Oman’s WEC potential racing.
Ahmad Al Harthy said: “It was a tough race. Unfortunately we had to catch up from there because of the puncture in the first hour, but the loss of time was just too big in such a hard-fought championship where it’s very difficult to come back. But we came back to P9, which was the best we could do.
“I was very happy with my performance, it showed that we can achieve good results here in the WEC if things go perfectly for us. It’s a very competitive championship and we learned a lot about racing at Sebring.
“It was a new track for me personally and I learned a lot and was very happy with my pace overall. We also learned a lot for the championship, which will hopefully help us in Portimao in Portugal.”
The second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the Portimao 6 Hours, takes place on Sunday 16 April at the Autodromo do Algarve in Portugal.