Harrison admits ‘awesome’ top six world ranking is ‘best experience of his life’
Nathan Harrison has described ranking an outstanding sixth in the world at Junior Rotax level as an ‘incredible’ feeling and the ‘best experience of his life’ – after producing a superb front-running performance up against the very best around in the prestigious Rotax World Finals at Al Ain Raceway in the United Arab Emirates.
The talented young Oxford speed demon earned his place as one of only three British contenders in a 72-strong Junior Rotax class field at Al Ain – composed of the indisputable crème de la crème of international opposition – by dint of snaring the runner-up spoils in 2011 in the fiercely-contested national Super 1 Series.
With all competitors using identical Birel chassis’ in the UAE, the blue riband outing promised to be a level playing field firmly prioritising skill behind the wheel – but for his first time in the World Finals, Nathan faced the initial disadvantage in relation to many of his rivals of not having benefitted from much prior testing on his new mount. Impressively, he did not let it hold him back in the slightest.
“I was really excited and felt quite confident going into the weekend,” explained the highly-rated Botley-based ace, “because the driver I had finished second to in Europe this year was a former world champion, so I believed we stood a good chance. I knew it would be extremely tough, with the best drivers from every country there – but I felt really proud to be representing Britain. The track looked amazing, too – it had a bit of everything in terms of its layout and was really good fun to drive.”
“The first heat was a bit of a disaster,” rued the Cumnor Hill hotshot, “but we got back on-track in the other two. In heat one, I went for a move on the driver in third and was clearly alongside on the inside line, but he turned in on me and we both spun. I finished 17th after that, and was then hit with a ten-place penalty which I felt was a bit unfair for what had been at best a racing incident – and at worst, more his fault than mine.
“That was a big setback right from the start, and it really piled the pressure on for heats two and three, because with only 34 drivers progressing on to the finals, I knew I had to score two very solid results to make it through. It was quite tricky, too, because there weren’t many opportunities to overtake, as all the dust and sand blowing across from the desert really affected your tyres whenever you went off-line.”
With consistency and playing it safe the order of the day, Nathan duly and maturely delivered, admitting to being wary of getting drawn into too many battles and wisely settling for third place in heat two before going one spot better in heat three, albeit conceding that ‘if I had pushed a bit harder, I could probably have won, but the most important thing was to make sure I reached the finish in a good position to get into the finals’.
From 17th on the grid for the pre-final, the Matthew Arnold School pupil targeted the top ten to set himself up nicely for the grand final later in the day. After magnificently scything his way grittily up through the order into sixth place, he unfortunately found himself caught out by the unusually early-braking of the driver ahead into the very last corner of the last lap. Helpless to avoid his errant adversary, Nathan’s Evolution Racing and Velocity Motorsport-prepared kart was sent sideways, causing him to drop to ninth at the chequered flag.
“I got a really good start in the grand final and was challenging at the front straightaway,” he went on. “I ran third for several laps before making a move for second, and then I closely followed the leader until my kart began to go off. It got worse with every lap and wouldn’t pull off corners properly, which cost me a lot of time. Due to that, I fell back into the pack behind and ended up finishing sixth, but if the kart hadn’t faded, I honestly think we could have won because I was very comfortable sitting in second place.”
A superb result nonetheless and a sizeable confidence boost into the bargain, the 15-year-old rated his success right up there alongside his British title triumph in 2009 and European vice-champion laurels this year in terms of his career accomplishments – and justifiably so.
“Looking back, I think it was a great achievement when you consider how many drivers race in Junior Rotax around the world,” he concluded. “Only 72 tickets are given out to the World Finals, so merely to be invited in the first place was quite an accolade – and to now be ranked sixth out of all of them is incredible. It’s only just started to sink in that I’m the sixth-best Junior Rotax driver in the world. The whole weekend was just awesome – the best experience of my life!”
Nathan is seeking sponsorship to help him to continue progressing his burgeoning career in 2012; if you are interested in supporting him, please contact Steve Harrison on 07710 380295 or at