The ‘Bomber’ says ‘count me in’ as another star names heads for Ipswich and the British Final
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Three-time British champion Chris Harris has announced he will ride in the British Final at Ipswich next weekend.
Harris, who was due to make his Peterborough Panthers return this season after spending last season with Ipswich, was originally due to miss out on the showpiece event due to a clash with the World Longtrack Championship which he had already signed up for.
But the FIM announced they had put that meeting in Poland back 24-hours which means he will now be at Foxhall Stadium next Saturday, September 26.
“I was gutted when they first announced the date for the British Final because I’d have had to race in the World Longtrack Final,” Harris explained.
“But luckily for me, they’re not on the same day anymore and I’ve found a way to ride in both.
“I’ll do the British Final at Ipswich, then the bikes will have already been sent out to Poland for the Longtrack Final.
“I’ll get an early flight on the Sunday morning and if everything goes to plan, the way I’ve worked it out is that by the time we’ve driven from the airport, we should get to the track five minutes before practice.
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“So it’s going to be pretty hectic but at least I can be involved in both meetings which are both pretty big for me.”
He joins Jason Crump in a field which is coming together nicely for the event which is being streamed live on tv.
Crump, the three-time world champion has been given a wildcard entry by the British Speedway Promoters Ltd.
It’s a huge coup for the competition and, although Australian, Crump will not be the first overseas rider to race in a British Final - indeed he is joined this year by fellow Aussie Rory Schlein.
Crump will also join team-mate Danny King in the showpiece event and also young Witch Drew Kemp, who will making his full British Senior Final debut, a great opportunity for him to shine on a big stage.
Meanwhile, Crump says he is not putting himself under any pressure as he looks to see how he fares in his first competitive outing in Britain since retirement in 2012.
“I’m in the UK, I have come back to ride, we all know everything that has happened this year, it has been frustrating with one thing and another,” said Crump.
“Ipswich is my new home track and why not take the opportunity to go and have a run out against the best guys that are going to be available to race at that time?
“I think it is definitely worthwhile, personally I am not putting any pressure on myself to do anything. I have not raced against guys of this calibre for a quite a while. I have got no expectations, no predictions, nothing to gain from this meeting except than I get to get out and hopefully race against some good riders and I want to see where I stand.”
Born in Bristol, Crump has represented Australia during his professional career and is thankful for the opportunity to ride with some British riders either unable to ride or having decided not to ride.
“I don’t want Craig Cook, for example, to be annoyed with me because he doesn’t have a spot in the British Final because I have taken it. I have got full respect for Craig that he feels he needs more time to prepare, I fully understand that.
“Danny hasn’t been riding, Rory (Schlein) hasn’t been riding, we are all sitting around wanting to get on our bikes and we are all starting from scratch. It is like turning the clock back to March, it will be your first meeting of the season, but we are in September. I am happy to be in and I appreciate the opportunity to ride and I’m looking forward to it.”
The multi-world champion is hoping to get some track time in ahead of the event and reiterated that he has no expectations on himself to win the meeting and become the first overseas winner since New Zealand’s Ivan Mauger in 1972.
“It is important for me at this stage that I get back out on track. I rode some laps at Scunthorpe the other day, but I’ll be planning to get some laps in over the next week if I can, but it depends on what is going on.
“I don’t have an expectation for anything other than to go there and have a ride and I am absolutely genuine with that. It is the opportunity for me to get onto the bikes. I rode them at press day in March, I had a run out at Scunthorpe, and I am hoping to get some more rides in the next week or so. It is all about that for me.
“Winning meetings at 45 years old is not really something I have ever thought about. Honestly, even when I came back to ride for Ipswich, I am riding as part of the Tru Plant Witches, I am not riding as Jason Crump.”
Crump also believes that due to the circumstances the showpiece event may feel a little different to normal, with riders just glad to be out on track in a competitive environment.
“We are not going for the wildcard spot at Cardiff like is normally the prize at the British Final. For me, and I hope most of the riders treat it the same, it probably won’t be treated like a normal British Final would be for most of the riders. It is going to be treated as a meeting that you want to go to and have a ride and I hope with the limited track time that the majority of riders have had so far this year, I hope that everybody does do that.”
Like everyone, the new Witches signing has been frustrated with how the year has panned out but has been in the UK since July to help his son Seth, as he competes in the HEL Performance British Junior Supersport Championship.”