HARRIS LOOKS AHEAD AFTER BRANDS FRUSTRATIONS Matt Harris had the speed to be in the top five in the latest rounds of the Formula BMW UK Championship at Brands Hatch, but a difficult qualifying left him trapped behind slower cars in the midfield...
HARRIS LOOKS AHEAD AFTER BRANDS FRUSTRATIONS
Matt Harris had the speed to be in the top five in the latest rounds of the Formula BMW UK Championship at Brands Hatch, but a difficult qualifying left him trapped behind slower cars in the midfield on race day.
It is always difficult for slicks-and-wings single-seaters to overtake on Brands' short 'Indy' configuration, especially when the cars are as evenly matched as the Formula BMWs.
"None of the corners are really conducive to overtaking moves, and in fact at some places the shape of the corner means it's completely impossible," Matt explained. "The main problem is that the camber of the corners is ideal for the racing line, but as soon as you come off that line to try and pass someone, you lose so much grip.
"So you have to qualify well to have a chance, and unfortunately I didn't do that. The quick times were set early on in both sessions and I didn't make the most of the first five or ten laps of qualifying. I was trying to find space in the traffic or a quick car to tag on to, and it didn't work."
Matt was within 0.7s of the pole position time in both sessions, yet in this remarkably close field that meant only 16th and 21st on the grid for the races. He did a superb job to make it through to 12th in race one, and his best lap was a paltry 0.2s shy of the pace set by winner Matt Howson, but in race two Harris found the traffic even more of a problem.
Doomed to spend 24 laps staring at Jack Goldstraw's rear wing, he could progress no higher than 18th.
"It was immensely frustrating," Matt admitted. "The one clear lap I had in race one was within two-and-a-half tenths of a second of the fastest overall, and I was pleased with that because it showed I wasn't really far off the pace at all. But qualifying and the lack of passing places made life very, very difficult for me, and I was stuck behind some very slow people who I shouldn't have been behind, unfortunately."
Despite the disappointment endured at Brands, Harris is looking forward with great optimism to the rest of the season.
"I'm working hard on my driving style because I know what I need to do to improve," he explained. "It's just a case of braking a few metres later or carrying a little more speed through the corners. I'm learning all the time. We're going to use a different strategy for testing and qualifying from now on so that we make the most of the time we have to make progress."
He hopes that this change of direction will bear fruit when the Formula BMW UK series move to the dramatic Oulton Park track in Cheshire a fortnight from now.
"I'm really looking forward to Oulton Park," said Harris. "It's one of my absolute favourite tracks and I qualified well there last year."