Ute racing on track

Former top kart racer Blake Harris is hoping to follow in his dad’s tracks this weekend when he takes to Manfeild raceway for the first time – and in a bigger vehicle’s than he’s used to.

After eight years’ competitive karting, including four years’ claiming class champion titles at Fagan’s Valley in Te Puke, the 16-year-old’s debut race a full-size vehicle is behind the wheel of a SsangYong Actyon Sports double cab ute.

Champion karter Blake Harris with the SsangYong Actyon he’s racing this weekend.

Competing in a 22-strong field, it’ll be Blake’s second practice event ahead of the launch of the new class of racing in September.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” says Blake, who is the youngest driver in this weekend’s field.

“I just want to have fun and to stay out of trouble, but it would be good to do quite well.”

Surgery on Blake’s foot forced him out karting last season, but he’s excited about stepping up to race the 2.3 litre Mercedes Benz engine-powered ute after having a go at the Taupo race track last Friday.

While Blake still hasn’t sat his driving licence for the road, he’s got his racing licence two days before getting behind the wheel of the Ssangyong in what will be his first experience driving a manual.

“It took a couple of laps to get used to it,” says Blake, who describes braking the two tonne ute as something else he’s had to adapt to after years of racing his 145kg kart – driver included.

“But it doesn’t feel as fast as racing a go kart because you are higher off the ground,” says Blake, who is drawing on dad Brett’s years of experience racing in the GTRNZ class of the IRC competition – in which he came third in his Nissan Skyline this year and won three years ago.

“Because he’s raced so much on the track he’s giving me advice on how to handle the different parts,” says Blake, who says he’s picked up a little from watching his dad race. “I am the pit crew.”

Blake would love to race in the SsangYong Actyon Racing series, which is being launched as a support class to the BNT V8 SuperTourers at the Ricoh Taupo Motorsport Park on Fathers’ Day (September 7), but knows it’s only a dream without sponsorship.

“But one day I’d love to,” says Blake, who’d love to hear from anyone interested in sponsorship.

Those interested can email brettandheather@slingshot.co.nz


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