HARRIS STARS, BUT DOESN'T SCORE, AT THRUXTON Matt Harris showed tremendous speed and provided some of the most entertaining action in rounds three and four of the Formula BMW UK Championship at Thruxton last weekend, but was unable to translate...
HARRIS STARS, BUT DOESN'T SCORE, AT THRUXTON
Matt Harris showed tremendous speed and provided some of the most entertaining action in rounds three and four of the Formula BMW UK Championship at Thruxton last weekend, but was unable to translate that pace into championship points thanks to a number of misfortunes.
Qualifying didn't go quite according to plan. Harris' Team SWR squad were worried about excessive tyre wear on the famously abrasive Thruxton track, and added extra downforce to try and counteract this tendency. Unfortunately this set-up change affected the car's straightline speed a little too much, and Matt ended up in an unexpectedly low 18th place on the grid for race one. He improved to 13th in the second session, but still had plenty to do in Sunday's races.
Harris was still confident that he could salvage a good result from the meeting, and began race one in very positive fashion. A storming start took him past four cars in the dash to the first corner, then some more assertive racing saw Matt completing lap one in 12th, breaking into the top 10 on lap four, and then taking eighth place two laps later.
"I got a mega start, I was pleased with that," said Harris. "There was a lot of grip on the grid and I was expecting it to catch people out. After that, a few people were falling off the road, I was passing a few others, and suddenly I reached eighth -- which I thought was pretty good from 18th."
Sadly his progress was then halted by a slight ECU problem that prevented Harris' car from exiting corners cleanly. Several rivals were able to slip past as Matt struggled, and he ultimately dropped to 12th.
"The technical problem was stopping me coming out of corners, but otherwise the car was fantastic, so I have to thank the team," he said. "It's just a bit unfortunate not to get points when we'd been up there."
Matt had high hopes of making up for this disappointment in race two -- after all he was starting five places higher than in the earlier race and was confident he could make another strong start. Sadly a wayward rival cut in front of Harris in the opening corners, forcing him to back off dramatically and drop right to the back of the 22-car field. He fought back superbly, charging through to 12th at the end of the race. This was a somewhat distressing race for Matt though, as he was right behind a terrifying accident that saw Joe Osbourne fly over Harris' team-mate Lars Viljoen and strike the spectator fence at the chicane.
"The crash was horrific," said Matt. "Osbourne just touched Lars' rear wheel and flew into the fence. It was horrible to watch."
His grandstand view of the thankfully harmless accident may have marred Harris' race, but his actual performance gave Matt cause for optimism.
"Although I didn't get any points, to come from 18th to eighth and then from 22nd to 12th in the races was really good, and makes me feel confident about the rest of the season," said Harris. "We just have to get qualifying sorted now, because we're quick enough to get points in the races."