In the first British Supersport Championship race of 2003, Honda Racing's Karl Harris proved his maturity and outstanding ability on the new CBR600RR by winning his debut race for the team, despite hard-fought challenges from second-placed John Crockford and Stuart Easton.

Having qualified on pole position at the Northamptonshire circuit, Harris made a good start to the 20-lap race and slotted in behind current champion Stuart Easton and put the pressure on him immediately. Having won the British Supersport Championship in 2001, Harris was determined to make an instant impression with the CBR600RR in today's season opener.

The 23-year-old Sheffield-based rider then took the lead on lap three and fought off several determined challenges from Michael Laverty riding last year's Ten Kate Honda machine. Harris dictated the pace at the front until Laverty squeezed through on lap six, only for Harris to power back into the lead two turns later. The next challenge to Harris's lead came from John Crockford, who forced his way to the front after posting what was the fastest lap of the race so far, on lap seven.

Harris responded by out-braking Crockford into Abbey Hairpin and retaking the lead on lap 11. He then tried to put some distance between himself and Crockford, who was coming under increasing pressure from ex-GP rider Leon Haslam and Stuart Easton. Over the next few laps, the top four riders increased the gap over the rest of the field and Honda Racing's Harris came across backmarkers as early as the fourteenth lap. He skilfully took the opportunity to gain a few yards and break the tow he was giving the chasing pack.

Quickest in qualifying and free practice, a dominant Harris actually claimed the race victory on lap 16 when the red flag came out due to oil on the circuit. This gave the former European Superstock Champion his first victory for Honda Racing and maximum championship points from the first round.

"I got off to a good start and after that I just kept my head down and worked as hard as I could throughout the race," Harris explained. "I was surprised at the pace of the others in places, but the power and handling of my new Honda Racing machine gave me the decisive advantage.

"When I wasn't able to make a break at the start, I decided to bide my time and then make a move towards the end. Luckily, my strategy worked and I'm glad I took the lead when I did with the red flag bringing the race to a premature end.

"The new CBR600RR is an awesome package and it feels great to give it a debut victory at Silverstone," Harris continued. "It's a dream ride and I would like to thank Honda Racing for giving me the opportunity to shine in the British Supersport Championship. This is a fabulous series and the signs are that Honda Racing and the CBR600RR are only going to get even better."



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