Harry Webb completes dream comeback to lift Euro crown
Harry Webb claimed his sixth straight victory in the prestigious Euro Max Challenge to snatch an against-all-odds title triumph at Salbris, central France last weekend (5/6 September).
The 17-year old from Norfolk missed the opening round of the championship when his hopes for a race seat in the BRDC Formula 4 single-seater car racing championship faded. A last-minute deal with Strawberry Racing – with whom he enjoyed European and World success as a Junior in 2012 – handed Webb a competitive lifeline and he seized it with both hands.
The talented youngster repaid Strawberry’s faith in him with success at Castelletto in northern Italy (1 June) and followed it up a month later with victory in Spain (at Zuera, 20 July). However, he was far from guaranteed a clear shot at the title due to sitting out the season opener at Genk in Belgium back in April.
“I knew that the only way I would stand a clear cut chance of stealing the championship from under everyone’s noses was by winning both finals at Salbris”, Harry said. Confident that he had the measure of his rivals going into the crucial championship-decider but with the pressure still firmly on them rather than his own shoulders, Webb set about stamping his authority on the event with devastating effect.
He topped the timesheets in qualifying to net pole position for each of his three heats and won each one at a canter. However, having sealed P1 on the starting grid for Sunday’s first final, Harry could see that his fellow front-row sitter, Glenn Van Parijs, had an ace up his sleeve: “I looked across to the other side of the track and could see that his tyres were brand new. I was using the same rubber that had taken me through timed qualifying and the heats, as I was saving my fresh tyres for the second final, so I knew he wasn’t about to let me just waltz off into the distance.”
Harry’s assumption was correct. A tight and close-matched encounter followed with Webb having to use all his experience to keep Parijs and the chasing pack behind him all the way to the chequered flag - his winning margin just nine tenths of a second as he crossed the finishing line.
However, with his new tyres fitted for the main final, Webb was peerless and won with nearly four seconds to spare over his teammates, Josh Price, Lars Lamborelle and Guan Yu Zhou.
“What a year it’s been!” Harry said after being presented with his trophies. “I can hardly believe that I’m European Champion. After missing the opening round, I just rocked up at Castelletto and thought ‘Well, let’s see what happens.’ And then I won, and won again, and all of a sudden it became ‘Hang on, we could do this.’ And we have. It’s a great result not just for me but also everyone who worked so hard to help me achieve this success.”
Webb’s success has inspired his entry in the forthcoming CIK-FIA World Championships at Essay, France (20/21 September) in the KF category, competing again under the Strawberry Racing banner.