Superteen Harris Beech dominates the field
Teenager Harris Beech showed how much progress he has really made during one season in the British Superbikes by stepping down a class – and completely dominating.
In preparation for a second season in the BSB, racing in the British Junior Supersport class, the Alveley star decided to enter the opening Thundersport round, which was raced at Brands Hatch in Kent.
Competing in the Superteens class, he crashed out of first in race one, took top spot in race two, came second in the third – but only after a dubious yellow flag ruling – and then wrapped up the weekend with another win.
Harris, 15, will be back riding under Black Country Bathams Racing banner in the BSB, which is run by legendary racer Michael Rutter, for the first round at Silverstone, over the Easter weekend.
And proud father Richard, who prepares all of Harris' machines, said the Thundersport GB run out had been the perfect pre-season boost.
"Seeing as his highest placing before Brands had been fifth in Superteens, we were so impressed with how well went," he said.
"He was absolutely flying and Rutter was pleased too – he's actually got some silverware before him for a change!
"The first race he had about a five or six second lead on about lap nine, out of 12, but there were a lot of novices on the track as it was the opening round.
"This one poor novice was sort of riding on his own and had squared the corner off but Harris was already committed and took him out.
"He apologised and everyone was okay in the end, it was they were just both in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"Race two he beat at lad called Joe Talbot, which now leads the championship because he finished more races, and then race three was the same thing, although that one ended a bit controversially.
"Harris had overtaken him heading into Druids but a yellow flag had also come out. You're not allowed to overtake on a yellow flag.
"Harris said he did not see but the other team complained and as he's not fighting for the championship, and will only be doing a few rounds in between to keep him fresh for BSB, we didn't bother challenging it, so he came second.
"He then went on to win the fourth race as well, so he's sitting second in the championship.
"Harris even got interviewed after the races, which took him completely by surprise, but it was great to see him grinning throughout like a Cheshire cat."
Another eye-raising development during the weekend had been Harris' times, as he had put in 54.2-second laps, with the lap record standing at 54.1 seconds.
And then, while competing in a GP2 race, simply to get in even more track time, he banged into a 53.9-second effort.
"Had he done that in the Superteens race he would've come away with the lap record, so he did surprise me with how well he just got straight back into racing again," said Richard.
"Everything was just set up right and it was great to get so many laps in. Because of his age, he's not allowed to enter some of the track days run by MSV, although he is allowed to race at the same circuits – it's a bit of a strange set up.
"But with the BSB opener just a few weeks away this should really give him some more confidence and we could not have asked for any more from him.
"He also went out to Cartagena in Spain for three days of testing with the rest of the Bathams Racing team too, which went well."
The team are now waiting for the final rules to come back from the BSB as to how the bikes can be set up for the start of British Junior Supersport campaign.
"Harris rides a Yamaha and some of the developments could help us, while the Kawasakis, which completely dominated last year, might be slowed down a bit to make it a more level playing field," added Richard.
"Our changes will mean a complete engine strip down, which is at least an eight-hour job, while the Kawasaki changes will be probably only take about two hours to put into place.
"It's all a bit up in the air at the moment but hopefully we'll know sooner rather than later.
"He'll also be unveiling his new livery, leathers and helmet too at Silverstone, ready for the first race, which will make it even more special.
"We're on the lookout for more sponsors too. We've lost a few local companies while a few more have come on board but it's such an expensive sport that any help would be so much appreciated."
Round one of the BSB takes place at Silverstone, with testing, qualifying and racing running from April 19-21.