Revolving Racing – Harry Khouri | Columns | Gassit Garage
Harry go lucky...
Dad sent me a text message at school asking me to call him at lunchtime, and when I rang him he asked if I would like to ride at Phillip Island in the last round of the R3 cup. The first words out of my mouth were, “What do you think? Of course!” Getting a chance to ride there was unbelievable.
I spent the next two weeks training on my own bike at go-kart tracks and did a ride day at Wakefield Park to make sure I could handle the R3 after only ever racing on the R15 in GP Juniors. Afterwards I felt confident on the bike, but I was still a little nervous about Phillip Island because everyone had told me how fast it was compared to other tracks I have ridden.
On arriving at the Island the nerves finally hit and I was feeling sick in the stomach with excitement, hoping to ride okay. I met the team from Race Center on Thursday night and stickered the bike with my numbers and added my brake and clutch levers to suit my smaller size.
Friday morning came and we were at the circuit bright and early to do a track walk and meet Phil, our mechanic, and Dingo, the suspension man. I sat on the bike and they adjusted the suspension and ride height, considering I am a lot smaller than Chris Dobie.
My first session was 300 Supersport, a total shock to the system. With so many fast bikes out on the track at once and me never having ridden at Phillip Island before, I couldn’t believe how hectic it was, although thanks to lots of hours on the Xbox I at least had an idea where the track went.
Coming from the smaller bike the R3 was a bit of a change but in a good way. It has so much more power, especially coming out of corners. It picks up a lot quicker giving good exit speed, and it turns in a lot better, making for a much smoother ride. The tyres also have a lot more grip than what we have on the R15 so you feel more confident pushing the bike into the corners. The best part for me was how fast it goes, but I think Mum and Dad were a little scared watching, especially in the SSP300.
During first qualifying on Saturday morning I ran wide at Turn 2, tucked the front and went down in the wet grass. I couldn’t stand the bike back up so the session was red-flagged and I got a ride back to the pits in the course car. The damage was quickly taped up and repaired before the next session by the Race Center crew (and Mum’s credit card).
The racing over the weekend was so full-on, rubbing elbows and lots of close battles. While I still have to find speed compared to the more experienced riders, I learnt so much over the few days and got to ride at one of the world’s best race circuits. A huge thanks to Chris Dobie and AMCN plus Jed, Phil, Daz and Dingo from Race Center for looking after both me and the bike, and to GP Juniors and Mark Bracks for giving me this opportunity.
Harry’s mum says…
To say Harry was excited to ride at Phillip Island would be an understatement! Meanwhile, Harry’s dad and I were quietly panicking at the thought of him being out on a such a large fast track on a bigger bike with all those riders. But we weren’t concerned with his ability to get on the bike because he has had this year riding with GP Juniors to get a feel for racing, even if it was on a much smaller scale.
The crew from Race Center immediately made us feel at home. Upon arriving at the track, they treated Harry like a grown-up, which at 13 feels pretty good. Nothing seemed to be an inconvenience, and Phil and Dingo spoke at length with him to get the set-up right. They listened to his comments when he came in and made adjustments where necessary.
I thought I was going to have a heart attack during the first race (which was the 300SSP – nothing like jumping in at the deep end) and I couldn’t wait for the race to be over and Harry to be back safe in the pits. Phil and Dingo were watching the timing and looking happy, and seeing Harry come past the finish post was a relief. It was a fantastic weekend with a great bunch of people encouraging junior riders.