By clinching second place in class after a titanic battle at the Total 24 Hours of Spa 2017, Jonny Adam and Ahmad Al Harthy sealed the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup Pro-Am drivers’ title and secured the teams’ championship for Oman Racing Team with TF Sport.
Read on to hear Jonny’s thoughts on the secrets behind their success, and why he won’t be resting on his laurels despite nothcing up yet another prestigious accolade.
You’ve previously described 24hrs of Spa as one of the toughest GT races in the world, how did this year’s event feel from the driving seat?
It one of the hardest I’ve ever been in! Unfortunately we lost our right hand side air vent, so the cockpit temperature was extreme even for a race car. Over the course of the race I dropped 5kg in body weight, got cramp and suffered from heat exhaustion. Even without that sort of problem Spa-Francorchamps as a circuit is hard physically on the body, so by the end I was badly in need of food, water and sleep.
What part of the race or weekend did you enjoy the most, was there a stand-out moment that you remember vividly?
There are two that stick out. First and most important was seeing Ahmad cross the finish to win the Pro-Am Blancpain Endurance Series title and watch the emotional reaction from within the team. It’s always a special feeling just finishing one of the world’s toughest races, but to win a championship as a result is the icing on the cake. The other was going fourth fastest overall in Superpole, which shows how competitive the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 is when that was the arguably the fastest GT3 qualifying session of the year.
You and Ahmad have been driving together in the series all year, but how easy was it to work with two other drivers in Salih and Euan at this event?
It was great to have those guys on board for the Spa 24 Hours because they have had previous success with TF Sport, in fact in this same car last year. We all drove sensibly in tough conditions and worked extremely well as a Pro Am line up, so they played a huge part in helping us get the result we needed. They have a chance to win ELMS this year and I hope they continue their successful run for the rest of the season.
Finishing on the podium again, which the team has done in every Blancpain event so far this season, means you and Ahmad have clinched the Pro Am title with a round to spare. What’s been the key to your consistency?
It’s the fact that as a team we have covered every possible situation. Real focus on all the small details, which TF Sport is great at, is vital because the Blancpain Endurance Series is one of the most competitive GT3 championships in the world. We did a lot of testing pre-season and that’s helped, plus Ahmad has driven the best I have ever seen him perform this season. Ultimately the car, the team and the support from Aston Martin Racing has all clicked together and worked really well.
This championship is the third major title you’ve picked up over the past year, where does this achievement rate among those other successes?
This is right up there. I have raced in this series for four years, and to win this class in one of the hardest fought seasons of the competition is special. It’s been not a bad 12 months, winning the British GT Championship, Le Mans 24 Hours and now this. However, I’m always looking forward to what comes next and there’s a long way to go yet this season.
What are you focusing on for the remainder of the season? Have your targets changed or do you have some you’re still aiming to hit?
The goal is always to try keep on winning for Aston Martin. The target is now are to try and finish in the top three in British GT Championship, something I believe that can be achieved with Derek Johnston, and it would be nice to secure a win or two in order to take the outright record as the most successful GT3 driver in the championship.
The other main target is to make more progress in the World Endurance Championship both for the number 97 car and as a manufacturer. There are a lot of points on offer and we are still right in the mix with some favourable circuits coming up, so it’s a big push until the final round at Bahrain in November.
You’ve been racing Aston Martins at British, European and World level for a couple of years now, but on a personal level where do you think your driving or approach to racing has improved or evolved in 2017?
I think experience only makes you faster in GT’s or sportscars, especially at the big 24 hour races like Le Mans and Spa. I feel I’ve driven well this year but I’ve been lucky to have had great Aston Martin teams and teammates to work with to achieve some great results.
There have been plenty of highlights on track for you so far this season, but what’s been your highlight away from the circuit?
Getting engaged was very special, and now all the wedding plans are in full swing so it’s exciting times ahead…