Triple British Supersport Champion and British Superbike podium finisher Karl Harris will make his road-racing debut at the 2012 Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy. The Sheffield rider will contest all three 1000cc solo races for the Lancashire-based SMT Honda squad which has been one of the leading British Superbike Championship teams for the past six seasons.
32-year old Harris burst onto the racing scene as a teenager in the 1990s, when he rode for Team Great Britain in the Superteen Championship, the series that produced so many of the countries leading contenders. From there, Harris went on to win the 1999 European Superstock 1000cc Championship before spending a season in the World Supersport Championship.
However, it is perhaps his exploits in the British Championship for which he is better known. He was the dominant force in the highly competitive British Supersport Championship in the early 2000s before becoming a prominent front-runner in the Superbike class itself for the factory Suzuki, Honda and Yamaha teams.
Harris won three British Supersport Championships between 2001 and 2004, the first for Crescent Suzuki and the remaining two for Honda Racing, before progressing to the premier Superbike category in 2005 where he has remained ever since. His best season came in 2006 when he finished in 5th place overall recording 6 podiums. In total, Harris has notched up 12 BSB podiums and ended 2011 as part of the Splitlath Redmond Aprilia squad.
Robin Croft’s SMT team has also been formidable competitors in the BSB Championship, fielding riders including Michael Rutter, Chris Walker, James Ellison, Dan Linfoot, Jason O’Halloran and Harris himself. Their best season came in 2010 when Walker finished 10th overall in the Championship but arguably their finest moments came in the second half of the 2011 season when Ellison joined the team and took a succession of top eight finishes including a brilliant 3rd place at the final Brands Hatch round, when he got the better of Championship contenders Tommy Hill and John Hopkins.
SMT has changed its racing strategy for 2012 and with team owner Croft being a long-time supporter of the TT, as well as being associated with riders including Rutter, John McGuinness and Dave Dean, they’ve now decided to tackle the Mountain Course this year.
Commenting after his first visit to the Isle of Man to get an introduction to the track from TT rider liaison officers John Barton and Richard Quayle, Karl said:
“It’s properly exciting. I’ve done a few laps now with Milky and the place is awesome but you’ve got it treat it with the respect it deserves. I’ve got a long association with Robin and the boys at SMT so it’s great to do this for the first time with a team I know and trust. I’ve always wanted to do the TT just never had the opportunity so it is really something to look forward to. I’ve got a lot of work to do looking at on-board DVDs so it’s going to be a learning process but it will be fun.”
Robin Croft, Team Manager, SMT Racing, commented:
“I’m a great supporter of the TT Races and the event continues to go from strength to strength. We’re really looking forward to being part of the meeting and I’m sure that Karl is going to give a good account of himself on the Isle of Man.”
Paul Phillips, TT and Motorsport Manager, Isle of Man Government commented:
“Karl Harris is undoubtedly one of the most naturally talented riders on the British scene in the last ten years and I’m sure that with proper application he can build a great TT career for himself. He has all the attributes to make a great TT racer and I’m sure fans will look forward to seeing him on the Isle of Man this year.”