UK: Matt Harris Oulton Park race report

HARRIS BATTERED OUT OF THE POINTS Matt Harris was on course to turn a disappointing qualifying day into a points finish in rounds seven and eight of the Formula BMW UK Championship at Oulton Park, but ended up going home empty handed after...

HARRIS BATTERED OUT OF THE POINTS

Matt Harris was on course to turn a disappointing qualifying day into a points finish in rounds seven and eight of the Formula BMW UK Championship at Oulton Park, but ended up going home empty handed after a pair of bruising races.

This season has been a difficult one for Harris, who has realised that he needs to adapt his driving style to suit the demands of this year's revised Formula BMW car and his SWR team's set-up. The combination of very limited testing time and the breathtaking closeness of the BMW UK field has resulted in Harris' qualifying performances suffering while he goes through this process. He was hoping to make a breakthrough at Oulton, a circuit where Matt has been ferociously competitive in the past, but qualifying brought only 19th and 20th places.

"Qualifying was a bit of a write-off," he admitted. "There wasn't one decent, clear lap, and unfortunately that was mainly due to me."

Throughout his qualifying struggles, Matt has remained a formidable racer, and he was immediately making progress in the first race. Unfortunately his race didn't last very long, as Harris was assaulted from behind on only the second lap.

"I'd made up a couple of places at the start and was in a train of cars, then another car just went straight over the top of me," said Matt. "It was a real shame, because I think I could have got quite far forward in that race."

Harris' team boss Trevor Powell agreed: "Matt would have done rather well in that race," said Powell.J"He was driving very strongly and I'm sure he was heading for the points."

Luckily the damage to Harris' BMW-Mygale was relatively slight given the nature of the crash, and he was confident of better fortune in the next round.

"I went into race two with a clear head and nothing to lose," said Matt. "I had an absolutely mega start and made up several places, but I got squeezed onto the grass and lost all those places, plus a few more. After that I was just playing catch-up. I had a few good battles, but I could only get back to 15th place."

The Formula BMW series now takes a four-week summer holiday, but the championship regulations do not permit testing during this time. Harris is investigating the possibility of getting some mileage in a different car during this period, as he is eager to work further on his driving style.

"I've got some good ideas and I'm looking forward to the next race," he said. "The problem is that I'm carrying too much speed into corners and it's making me slow on the way out of them -- which hurt me at Oulton because so many corners have uphill exits. I'm going to try left foot braking to see if that would let me keep my high corner entry speeds without upsetting the car on the exits."

Harris can put these theories into practice when the championship resumes at Croft in mid-July.

-mb-

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Series Formula BMW