MAR 23rd 2015

CHRIS HARRIS: MY MEMORABLE RACING SUNDAY ABOARD A 911 AND ROVER SD1

Racing days don’t come much better than that!

Starting from sixth in the John Aldington Trophy I managed to execute one of the worst starts in Goodwood history. Bracing myself for a neck-whipping as I fumbled around the 901 dog-leg transmission attempting to locate second gear, I gave up after a while, slotted third and set about finding my way back up the field.

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This process was helped enormously by the car feeling very fit and healthy. I managed to sneak past a couple of interlopers on the first lap, and then got myself stuck in a dice with a couple of Columbian brothers by the name of Orjuela – this was further incentive to keep the driving ‘clean’.

We all diced together for several laps. I felt I had the pace to get clear, but finding a way through was near impossible, so I just sat back and watched the cars slithering around in front of me. On M-section Michelins the SWB 911 truly is a thing of joy. What small amount of grip there is disappears equally across both axles and with a delicious progression, so the cars just four-wheel slither around the lap with their drivers all, I’m certain, smiling like loons. 

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It was all getting quite close and slithery and I was wondering if my strategy to sit and wait for something to happen would work when a perfectly-timed rotating Porsche allowed me to nip past three cars and  finish sixth overall.

Huge thanks to Howard Donald for letting me drive his beautiful car, and apologies on behalf of the chicane for it moving a few inches during the race and causing me to just glance it!

‘I must have taken five cars into Madgwick using pure Rover grunt alone!’

There were concerns that the big Rover wouldn’t make the start of the main Gerry Marshall race, but the JD Classics boys worked well into the night to have the car sitting 23rd on the grid! We had a job to do.

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I ran the first stint and the car was just superb off the line, a lovely amount of slip, then full noise in second and I must have taken five cars into Madgwick using pure Rover grunt alone! We were up to 14th at the end of lap one, 12th on the following lap and then 10th. I’d be lying if I told you I can recall many of the overtakes, and we’ll post a video of it soon, but the driving was a little more forceful than in the Porsche race, but still well within Goodwood’s high standards. 

All I did was pin my ears back in the hope that I could hand over to Chris Ward as far up the order as possible and then watch him finish the job. By the time I’d done with sliding what must be the most fun racing car I’ve ever driven around the circuit, we were fourth overall.

Chris took over and immediately went quicker than me, and this early stop left us perfectly placed when the safety car came out for some crumped Dolomite Sprints. We leapfrogged the fast Tiff Needell Rover and once back underway Chris dispatched the insanely fast Nick Swift Mini and then set about catching Matt Neal in the big Bastos Camaro. 

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He was doing just that all the way to the line and we finished 2.039sec behind in second place. The vibration that was there all weekend had been hampering us all race and the car had a small misfire too – Chris was sure that without those he could have finished the job.

Still, 23rd to second in 45 minutes is pretty good going. Doing it mostly sideways and making some of the best V8 noise you’ll ever hear is Goodwood at its best. Again, thanks to JD Classics for letting me drive that wonderful car.

This was my first Members’ Meeting and it exceeded all expectations. A super start to the racing year.

Photographs: Adam Beresford and  Jochen van Cauwenberge

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