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Lee Harpham, Euro Superkart Champ - Q&A

15 October 2012

Lee Harpham became another British driver to win the prestigious CIK-FIA European Superkart Championship this season. Here tells Simon Stiel how he did it...



Crash.net:
Many congratulations for the European title. What were the factors for you participating this year?

Lee Harpham:
Basically, I had two years off from the European championship and missed it quite a lot so I wanted to get back into it. I'd done the Grand Prix with John Riley the previous year so I got in touch with John after that and decided to have an attack on the European championship and see how we'd get on this year.

Obviously, it went well for us. We were just expecting to do as well as we could but we didn't expect to win it this year.

Crash.net:
Yes, because at Hockenheim in the wet you were quick and then at Snetterton in the dry you achieved that hat-trick...

Lee Harpham:
Yeah, I mean Hockenheim was quite a shock to be honest. Obviously I had two years out and we were looking for a top ten finish before we went to the meeting. But after the qualifying and the first race we thought maybe it could be a bit different to what we'd planned. We were a bit let down with the chain in the second race but for the first meeting of the year after two years it was good. We were pleased after that weekend.

For Snetterton we had some new cylinders from FPE for that weekend which helped a bit more with the speed. That helped us get the three wins there.

Crash.net:
Your likely challengers Emmanuel Vinuales and Gavin Bennett had trouble with chassis. How did your chassis develop over the course of the season?

Lee Harpham:
It's been good. It was John's personal kart that we were using for this year to see how we got on. John over the winter made a lot of developments with the kart, like a small diffuser on the rear end and different bodywork. The kart was really well set up to begin with basically. We just improved it bit by bit from there to suit my driving style.

Crash.net:
For this year you briefly competed in F250 Nationals did you think you could joggle the two championships?

Lee Harpham:
Well, the aim at the beginning of the year was to race the 250 singles to get us back into race speed and then was going to decide before Snetterton what we were going to do. The problem was trying to do both championships but obviously after doing well at Hockenheim we thought it was going to be a bit of a rush at the Snetterton meeting.

We decided to just use the European from then on really because we'd just had a bad result in Ireland with the single. We decided to put the single back in the garage and concentrate on the European for the rest of the season.

Crash.net:
The challenger for the title turned out to be Marcel Maasmann. What was the atmosphere like in the garage when you're in the same team?

Lee Harpham:
It was good actually. We work together to get the best out of the equipment and Marcel's a really good guy. We've always got on in the past and we've helped each other.

I mean, after the last meeting at Le Mans when he had the accident I went straight over to him after the first race to see if he was okay. We got our kart ready and if he wasn't got to be ready we were going to give him a hand to get it sorted for the second race. He got it sorted out himself. He was one of the first to congratulate me after the second race with a bottle of champagne which was good. It was good for Redspeed too being 1-2 in the championship. John was on hand to improve performance throughout the year.

Crash.net:
Speaking about your personal performance how do you think you've improved as a driver this year?

Lee Harpham:
To be honest, I was a bit nervous going to the first meeting with not being in the European for two years. That meeting gave me a big reassurance that we could maybe do it. I worked close with John to improve bits and pieces. I needed to change it to suit my driving style and got settled in really. It was great to be around John and the rest of the team. They're a really good bunch of people. We've lots of good times off the circuit as well as on.

Crash.net:
The priority of course will be retaining the title since Gavin Bennett will want it back...

Lee Harpham:
Yeah, well we've already started talking to John about what we're going to do for next year. I think maybe we're going to try for a new chassis. Obviously, it will be an Anderson but just to replace it and refresh things a little bit. I spoke to John this week and we're going to sit down and have a chat regarding developments over the winter and see if we can hopefully retain it and defend off the other people.


by Simon Stiel


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