Hi guys – Harrison here back with my latest column for Crash.net looking at my year racing in Japan.

With four races down in my maiden year in Super Formula, the season so far can be summed up with one word: “frustrating”. That said, the team and I are making progress. A top-six result definitely looked possible at Sugo until my car unfortunately caught fire, and I ran well in practice at Fuji before a fuel spillage causing a similar issue at a pit stop after torrential rain. But let me get you up to speed with my racing activities over the past couple of months.      

Round 2 of the Super Formula season was at Autopolis. We had an engine issue in practice, so I didn’t record many laps, and it was the only dry session before the race. FP2 was wet with loads of red flags and I only managed one flying lap. Qualifying was delayed from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning and also changed the structure from the normal Q1-Q2-Q3 to a more conventional 40-minute qualifying session. I went off near the end of the session, causing a red flag, and was sent to the back of the grid with another six cars.

The race didn’t go much better when I stalled on the grid due to a clutch actuator issue which then kicked out the anti-stall electronics, putting me a lap down, but got up to effectively P9 in terms of true pace. I then headed over to Monaco for the Formula 1 race, which is always a very cool experience.

Next up for me was the Fuji 24 Hours. I qualified in pole in my group with a new lap record, which was satisfying, and in overall pole with the combined times of my co-driver Tairoku Yamaguchi. The race was going pretty well, lying second with about four hours to go, but an alternator problem caused an oil pump issue which led to a gearbox failure. The mechanics did a great job and managed to get us back out, and we ended up third, which was a shame as we were in the hunt to win it. It’s always amazing to do a 24-hour race, no matter where it is or what it’s in. It is just a great experience.

I then unexpectedly headed home to race for Multimatic Motorsports in the British GT Championship’s Silverstone 500 in a GT4 class Ford Mustang. I hadn’t driven a GT4 car before but I thought it would be a lot of fun, and so it turned out to be the case. Silverstone is one of my favourite tracks; I think it’s one of the best tracks in the world and it’s always good to race at home. I have a great relationship with Larry Holt, who runs Multimatic, so when he called me to say ‘come and race the Mustang’, I was really happy.

It’s great to work with such a cool company like Multimatic, which has done such a good job with so many programmes around the world. We were flying in the wet practice, but then it dried and the Pirellis are a real one-lap tyre, and having not driven the car in the dry before my first flying lap in qualifying, I didn’t get the most out of the tyre. I got held up by someone going off in front of me on my second lap and my third lap was my quickest but the tyres had completely gone.  

We started 14th on the grid in and amongst the pack, made a pretty good start, but then was T-boned by someone on the first lap. That turned us around and damaged the rear right bodywork. A lengthy pit stop for repairs dropped us back to last place, but we had decent pace. The team did a great job, the car was mega before it had the tow out and then it was a bit of a handful. We were crabbing down the straight, but it was good fun. The whole race was like bumper cars but it was cool. It made a change to single-seaters.

In the third Super Formula round at Sugo, there were positive signs. Our pace was really good. I personally underperformed in qualifying compared to where we should have been. I made a mistake in Q2 which didn’t put me through to Q3, so that obviously dropped us down which was a shame. The race was going really well. I was up to fourth, three seconds behind third, five seconds behind second and seven seconds behind the leader after 15 laps. It was all going pretty well - and then the top wing flap on the left-hand side fell off and then the high-pressure fuel pump began to fail.

I was losing quite a bit of top end and speed from that and also had quite a bit of understeer, so the pace started to drop off. Nevertheless I was only 25 seconds off the lead and a podium was looking possible. But at our pit stop, the car caught fire so that was that. The following round in Fuji brought a similar story in torrential rain. I had been running well in practice, reaching the top 10, but then had my race compromised by a fuel spillage that caused another fire. A pretty disappointing way to finish off the first half of the season, but the signs are there and with a little more kindness from Lady Luck, we should be knocking on the door very soon.

Recently I’ve been spending time with both Sacha Fenestraz and my Super Formula teammate Lucas Auer, having some fun around Tokyo and nearly killing each other on the squash court! I also had a shop opening to go to for one of the team sponsors, Goldex, who have been so great to us as a team and have been a key part of me being on the grid this year.

We’ll be back in Super Formula action at Motegi on August 18. Speak to you then!