Harrison's tale of woe at Rockingham

Monday, May 11, 2015

James Harrison continued his racing season this weekend, with the third round of the 2015 British GT Championship at Rockingham. The two hour race would be the first of this length this year and would suit the Academy Motorsport prepared Aston Martin and the pairing of James and his teammate, Chris Webster.
Qualifying on the Saturday afternoon, was run in the sunshine with Chris hitting the circuit first for his qualifying session. Struggling in traffic, Chris was only able to place 11th in his qualifying session. James then hit the circuit for his qualifying session. After a few installation laps, his quickest time was enough to put him 6th in his qualifying session. With the grid for the race on Sunday being decided by a combined time of the two drivers, the pair would start 11th for the two hour race. James commented after the session, “I was really happy with my qualifying lap today. It was a fairly tidy lap, with only one minor mistake, but this sort of pace in tomorrow’s race will put us right in the mix. Chris had a little trouble with traffic in his session, so we will start a little further down the grid than we’d like, but it’s a long race tomorrow so we have plenty of time to make up places.”
After a torrential downpour on the Sunday morning, the race would start in the afternoon on a damp but rapidly drying track. Chris would start the race and after a strong opening lap, he was able to progress through the field with an ever improving pace. As the pit stop window opened at the 50 minute mark, Chris dived straight into the pits from a very respectable 7th position. With a fast driver change and clean pit stop from the team, James joined the circuit and was promoted to 5th place straight away. With pressure from chasing cars behind, James strung together some fast and consistent lap times and began to close in on the cars ahead of him. With just under 30 minutes of the race remaining, disaster struck. A Ferrari, competing in a different class, cut across on James’ Aston Martin while overtaking and contact between the two cars forced James onto the wet grass and in turn, the gravel trap on the outside of the corner. With the car beached in the gravel, James was unable to rejoin the race and forced into retirement.

After the race, James expressed his disappointment on what was shaping up to be a great result for the team, “Well I’m gutted that our weekend ended that way. Chris drove a great opening stint, we had a perfect pit stop and I was was able to set a comfortable pace to help us move even further forward. It’s a real shame to be forced into retirement from contact with a car we are not even competing against. I was given no space at all and forced onto the grass before ultimately ending in the gravel trap. It’s not something you expect from this level of racing and although the Ferrari was excluded from the race as a result, it doesn’t make up for us missing out on the result we deserved. We can take some positives from the weekend though, as a pairing we are faster, the car and team are running perfectly and I can still look forward to a hopefully less eventful race at Silverstone at the end of the month.”

Source material and photo credits - James Harrison Racing

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