Well known motoring journalist and part time racer Chris Harris had a go at the Renault Sport Trophy car this weekend at Silverstone, taking part in both the Endurance race on the Saturday and Prestige race on Sunday.
After placing ninth in the Endurance round with teammate Paul-loup Chatin, which was on course for a podium had they not had issues with the door during the driver change which required an extra pitstop, Harris placed seventh today in the Prestige race after a spin put him outside the top six.
I spoke to him about the experience and what he thought of the car, among other topics regarding the upcoming content on the Chris Harris on Cars You Tube channel.
“Jeremy from Renault phoned me up and said ‘We’ve got this thing going on, its quite grown up, would you like a go and if you can have a race then you can do a video about it’ and the videos we do get quite good exposure, we get more than the average TV show that goes out about motorsport, and for me I really enjoy doing videos that aren’t just me, skidding about in new high powered cars,” he said. “So this will be a nice bit of light and shade that will come between car launch and something else I’d’ve thought.”
Harris said he thought the RS-01 was going to be like a GT3 car with more power, but it was more than that. “The physical side of it was more than I expected and I’ve had a summer of ‘good living’ shall we say, so that came as a shock,” said Harris. “As ever I’ve just come and jumped into one of these things on a Friday. I’ve never seen the car before, I jump in it, then somehow get to a point where I can race the car at the weekend.”
“All the excuses out the way, it took a bit to get familiar with it. Braking performance is mega, so if you know your numbers its two and a half ‘Gs’ through the quick stuff – which is quite a lot for an old boy like me – 2.6 under brakes, massive carbon stoppers with ABS so you just smash the brake pedal and you can’t quite believe the numbers, and I was racing with Paul-loup who is a really, really great driver.”
“He’s doing WEC LMP2 and I was looking at his data, so I’m braking as late as I dare, my eyeballs are telling me “If you don’t brake now, you’re dead!” and his data’s 15, 20 metres after me. So great to learn from someone as good as him.”
“Racing was really good fun. I had a couple of dices, managed to spin it,” he said. “I was catching the guy and I was closing the gap, but it’s a proper racecar, mid engined, and if you just overstep it by a mil it just rotates, and you can’t catch them on slicks; not like I can do skids like I normally do, you can’t ride it out. So anyhow a great experience, cracking event, and they’ve got to race at Spa next year I think.”
Next weekend the Goodwood Revival takes place however Harris will not be taking part in the TT, instead participating in the Fordwater Trophy.
“I’m not doing a show at Goodwood next weekend, I’m just doing one race in the Fordwater,” he said. “I think we’ve done a lot of Goodwood in the last couple of months, in fact last two years and I think we need to step back from it. I haven’t got a drive for the TT because Gary Pearson who I was with [last year] is racing with someone else, so his car didn’t get an entry, and frankly I’m doing Spa the week after, so I can finish on Saturday and go say hello to my children.”
Finally Harris says the BMW 325i that features on some of his videos is currently having an engine change because of an issue with the engine block, but it could see a return before the end of the year. “Its a labour of love, I love that car, I love Neil who makes it, but yes I want to do one thing before the end of the year.”