Six weeks to go to the first round of this seasons British Superbike championship and the pressure is starting to build for the teams and riders in what is considered to be the most open championship in years. Having once again lost it’s top riders to World Superbike and the like, the starting grid at Brands Hatch over the Easter weekend, will feature a fantastic mix of old and new riders, all united in their goal to take the 2009 title.
Great things are being predicted for the likes of Leon Camier, no longer in the shadow of last seasons champion Shane Byrne, and also his new partner James Ellison in the Airwaves Yamaha team, while French rider Sylvain Guintoli is already being tipped by many experts as the outstanding rider amongst the field.
The Superbike news that Hydrex Honda rider Karl Harris is being tipped by former BSB rider Leon Haslam as a ‘dark horse’ for this years crown is no real surprise. Harris himself seems ready to exorcise the demons of recent times and appears to be making every effort to get himself in both physical and mental shape for the current campaign.
Back in 2003 and 2004 Harris stood out amongst the British Supersport riders, on board the HM Plant Honda, he won back to back championship’s for the team and earnt himself a place in the UK factory Honda team for British Superbike 2005. After finishing 9th overall for the 2005 season Harris was paired up with Ryuichi Kiyonari with the main HRC Honda team for 2006. While Kiyonari went on to claim the title in that year Harris finished in a disappointing fifth place overall.
His first spell at Hydrex in 2007 showed some promise, but ended up with nothing and similarly in 2008 for the Rob Mac team, Harris would ultimately end empty handed.
Hydrex have shown their commitment in re-signing the rider for a second spell, although in fairness he was not their first choice. The team had hoped to keep James Ellison and tempt Greg Lavilla to join them but both riders were tempted elsewhere. Harris will need no reminding that he needs to get himself sorted out both physically and mentally if he is win the title. If he can retain his focus both on and off the track- who knows what might happen.