BSCDA British Champion 2011 Paul Harrison (#2) talks to F1

BSCDA British Champion 2011 Paul Harrison (2) attended the last WCQR of the year at Belle Vue last weekend and not only unveiled his new BSCDA British Champion wing but won his first race out as 2011 British Champion and took a creditable second place in the final behind Stu Smith jnr (390).

F1 caught up with the 2011 British Champion Paul Harrison (2) for a short chat about ‘that race’.

BSCDA British Champion 2011 Paul Harrison 2 takes to the track at Belle Vue. Photo Paul Tully

BSCDA British Champion Paul Harrison 2's new chequered wing. Photo Colin Casserley

Paul it’s been widely commented upon that your driving style appears to be more aggressive this year, would you agree with this? And if so what has brought out this more aggressive style?

I don’t think my driving has been any different to any other time that I have been happy with the car. Most drivers will tell you that when the car feels good they will go quicker and get better results. The confidence you get from a good car definitely reflects in your driving. Personally, I think even when the car is not good then I know that my style of driving will get me good places but when it feels good I am a match for anyone.

BSCDA British Champion 2011 F1 stockcar driver Paul Harrison 2. Photo Colin Casserley

You have always been acknowledged as a fast, smooth driver. When it was announced that Kings Lynn would be hosting the British Championship did you think that the track surface would suit your style? Fans often bill it as the ‘super smooth, super fast Shale of Kings Lynn’. Do you consider this to be correct? And how would you best describe a race on the Lynn shale.

Kings Lynn is definately fast and smooth and although my driving is described in the same manner it makes no difference when you throw thirty other cars on track which all want your piece of track. I usually feel no more confidence at KL than anywhere else but I did entering that meeting because we have improved the shale car and the previous two shale meetings I was very quick. I think we have turned a corner on shale and that will reflect in my future performances I hope.

We often hear that a car is set up for the beginning or the end of a race, was this the case with the British? And does having these different set-up affect how much contact you can use?

This time of year you generally expect more dry laps than wet ones, even after watering, but I do not alter car set up between wet and dry although my car does seem to maintain speed on an ultra dry track. It could be my driving style but I reckon it still has a lot to do with how the car is set up at the moment, either way the amount of contact I make still depends a lot on my confidence.

You were behind Stuart Smith for a number of laps, when did you think ‘I can have this’, and what tactics did you use to ensure this happened?

I knew before the race that Stuart would be one of my main competitors. After I survived the early laps I was trying to get clear from John, Mark and Dan because I knew I could make a race of it to win. However, they had other ideas and took a bit of shaking off before I set off after Stuart who was a straight infront by then. I concentrated on making tidy laps and after about three on my own realised I was catching him fairly quickly. I thought he may be too far away and I would be first loser again but with about four to go I realised I might get a chance to have a go.

During the yellow flags you looked so pumped up, shaking your fist and really looking up for it, was you aware at that time that you would have to move the 390 car to get the win?

After the last yellow I was up to second having just passed Dan and I was definitely up for it. The car felt good, I had survived the early laps and thought I was in with a very good chance. I guess I was playing to the crowd and knew full well that Stuart was the last big hurdle and it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park! Just after the re-start however is when I got in a mid race scrap and I thought my chance to win had gone.

The crowd on the back straight were going mental, were you aware of the atmosphere?

I knew the crowd would be getting revved up and could sense it on the cautions but during the race you forget about everything else and just focus on the job in hand.

How does that come across to you in the car, do you sideways glance towards the crowd? Can you really hear the shouts above the V8 Engine?

You do have a look around under caution and can sense the atmosphere, even hearing it when you turn off the engine to keep it cool but once you fire it up again all you can hear is the engine.

Can you describe in your own words the last laps.

After shaking off the others after the last caution, as I have said, I concentrated on tidy laps but thought my chance had gone. I just plugged away and after realising I was catching up and just hoped there were enough laps left. At about four to go I knew I would catch Stuart but didn’t want to leave it until the last bend if I could help it because you only get one chance to get it right and that is OK with most drivers but the top drivers are different. Their track craft comes to play and so I decided coming out of turn 4 with one to go that I would take a shot into turn 1. I measured the shot just right putting Stuart up to the wall without upsetting my line and thought I had done enough until I saw him in my mirror emerging from the dust going down the back straight!

Stuart Smith has a reputation as a big hitter, did you look in your rear view mirror going into turn 3.

Of course I did, all the way down the straight until I came out of turn 4!! I thought I had got it covered but I knew he would have a go so I had to give it an extra press on the throttle after I had shut off although I swear I felt him Whooosh past behind me!

Would you say this has been your best race to date? If not, what tops it?

It certainly ranks up there I guess but I truly believe that the best chapter of my story is yet to come.

World Final next?

That is still the one I want. People keep asking me when I think I will retire but the truth is that whilst I can still race at the top and believe there is a World Final in me then I will keep at it for now. On the other hand I might wake up one day and decide I fancy doing something different so that’s why I try not to let stock cars completely rule my life and have as much fun away from stock cars as I can. I am sure that through the likes of one or two drivers who post on a F1 Stock Car forum people may have begun to appreciate the dedication and sacrifices drivers make in order to race at the weekend and so we may be forgiven for having the odd meeting off.

One final point of interest with regards to when I may hang up my helmet. From the age that I am now, John Lund went on to win a European, three British and four World Finals so you might see me on track for a few years yet. They do say the first one is the hardest to win so you never know, I might still be the first to win four on the trot!!!

Thanks for you time Paul, all of us here at F1 wish you every success with your racing.

Interviewed by Stephen Cording June 23rd 2011.

Further reading:

Paul Harrison’s previous interview with F1 back in 2009 can be viewed: HERE
Read the BSCDA British Championship 2011 report: HERE
The official DVD / Blu-ray of the 2011 British Championship can be ordered: HERE

BSCDA British Champion 2011 Paul Harrison 2 at speed. Photo Paul Tully

BSCDA British Champion 2011 Paul Harrison 2 won a heat first time out after the British . Photo Colin Casserley

BSCDA British Champion 2011 Paul Harrison 2. Photo Paul Tully

BSCDA British Champion Paul Harrison 2. Photo Paul Tully

Photo Stephen Cording

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