Karl Harris: 10 years on from Euro glory
It is 10 years since Karl Harris won the European Superstock title. It’s 15 years since the team that helped him win that title, GR Racing, was formed.
And now Harris is back with GR Racing duo Brent Gladwin and Tony Robinson who are running the official Aprilia effort in National Superstock this year.
WHAT GLADWIN SAID:
“When we looked at the project I thought, ‘the bike is the size of a 600 so why not pick the best 600 rider in the country we know.’ So we signed Karl.
"It’s 10 years since we won the European Superstock title and Aprilia’s colours is the same as we ran back then. Karl was also number 16 so we’re got to adopt that.
“Seeing the bike, knowing the kind of promotion that was needed but also the fun we could have – and seeing Karl sat with nothing – it made sense to get him on board. These are the bikes to have. Especially with Karl on them.
“Sheridan Morais (South African who was impressively fast at Brands in BSB last August on Paul Bird’s Kawasaki) is a good friend of ours. We brought him here in 2005 and now he’s switched from Kawasaki to Aprilia in South Africa.
“He got his bike, fitted a fork kit, Akrapovic , fairing kit and air filters and after two days and 170 laps went 0.8s faster on the RSV than he’d gone on his full works Kawasaki.
"He told me, ‘the chassis is fantastic but compared to the Kawasaki it ran out of puff on the top end.’
“So I’m worried now and say: ‘So it’s not competitive?’
“‘No, no,’’ he comes back. ‘I’m 08s faster on the Aprilia.’
“The point is that it’s a great package.
“We’re looking at a second rider and we have a list of potentials, there’s so many to choose from.
"The bike will suit a 600 guy so that’s why Sheridan and James Webb are top of our list.
"Although we’d also like to bring on a young rider, as we did with Karl. We’d like to take a young guy and do some wild card European Superstock rides.”
WHAT HARRIS SAID:
"Superstock is a good class to ride in. It’s not a step back for me – rather a step to the side.
"I need a good year. I need to get my confidence back up, to bring myself back up.
I’m back with Brent and Tony now and I know it’s going to be good.
"I want to put the past five or six years behind me and start afresh. I know I can do that with this team.
"It started to come back end of last year when I rode for SMT. I enjoyed that. It was a smaller, relaxed team and suited me perfectly.
"I’d get off the bike and talk to the lads. The pressures weren’t the same.
Gladwin recalls the 1999 season when Harris rode the GR Racing Suzuki to the European Superstock title, beating the factory Aprilia!
“We were one of only two teams on GSX-R750s. The guy who ran the Aprilia superstock team was Gianluca Montiron – who went on to run the JIR Konica MotoGP team then went back to Aprilia.
"Montiron ran Luca Oliver Bulto the year we did Euros. We were on Metzelers with Eddie Roberts looking after. Bulto switched mid-term from Dunlop to Pirelli with massive support from the factory and we went head-to-head with them in a huge war.
"In the title decider at Hockenheim, Karl was under instructions to follow Bulto. They cleared off from the pack and then Karl got bored following, smashed the lap record when he passed Bulto who then fell off chasing him!