Features 31 Aug 2022

Conversation: Harry Khouri

Team 109 rider on preparation and strong Most WorldSSP300 showing.

Australian WorldSSP300 contender Harry Khouri has experienced his share of tough luck in the opening rounds of the 2022 championship, but showed he has what it takes to compete at the front by qualifying P4 in the Czech Republic and converting that into a seventh-place finish in race one. CycleOnline spoke to the Team 109 Kawasaki rider in this Conversation to get insight into his second season in the category, that strong showing at Most, and his preparation, including laps spent on a 600.

Image: Supplied.

Can you talk us through your 2022 WorldSSP300 journey, and some of the high points and challenges that you have had to overcome? 

So far in the season, we have had a couple of good races but the season hasn’t gone entirely how we wanted it to. We had you could say, bad luck in the first few rounds, but Most was probably the highlight of the year so far, we got our best finish in the championship to date. It’s sort of hard to say, I don’t know if we are struggling a little bit as a team with performance, but I was really happy to come away with seventh place in the first race at Most. I was a bit unfortunate in the second one where we had a bit of a collision with another rider and came off pretty quick, but luckily we are okay. I’ve been fortunate enough to do a little bit of testing here the last couple of weeks at Portimao and Magny Cours. Hopefully, that will give us a bit of a step forward for the rounds to come, and maybe we can get some better results for the rest of the season.

As you mentioned, that weekend in Most, specifically race one was a strong result. What do you think the key was for you to achieve that?

We were fortunate that weekend… the one thing we had been struggling with the whole year is getting a good qualifying position. We know we have the pace to be up in that front group, it just came down to getting the lap together in qualifying to not have to come from the back in the races. In Misano, I started I think P25 and in the first few laps, I was pushing pretty hard to get to that front group and just made some mistakes and crashed out of both races. It was good that we qualified P4 at Most, I think the weather conditions helped a little bit there. I don’t mind any of the conditions really, but they sort of played in my favour I guess and that made us have a good starting position for the weekend. Race one was half wet, half dry in the first few laps of the race, and I was able to get in that front group and build a good rhythm and stay out of trouble – I didn’t have to come back from so far.

Image: Supplied.

Looking at the finish of that race, there were less than three-tenths separating you from a podium. After those positive tests at Magny-Cours and Portimao you discussed, is a top three what you expect to achieve entering the upcoming rounds? 

Obviously, with these tests and Magny-Cours being the next round too, I wanted to get that advantage to be able to get on the pace straight away and not have to basically relearn the track. With a new team also, what we were going for was not having to start those rounds from scratch, they are still learning with me as a rider how to set up a bike and everything. Hopefully, with the testing, it can give us a bit more of an advantage for the coming weekends and we can get some more good results.

Speaking testing, practising and preparing, I remember seeing you do some laps on a 600 back here in Australia during the pre-season. Are there elements riding the bigger bike which help on the 400, or was that rather preempting a step for you in the future? 

It’s a bit of both actually. I think that in a way, the 600 helps with the speed, you are going a lot faster. I think it is a lot easier to make the step down rather than the step up. I’m doing the same over here actually, for practising I have my 600 here and I go out on that then hop back on the 400, I think it actually does make a difference for me, getting back up to speed a lot faster going from the 600 to the 400. I’m going to progress onto the 600 at some stage so it’s a little bit of getting time on it as well.

Finally, with Jack Miller confirmed to do the ASBK finale at The Bend and the likelihood of him bringing some people based over in Andorra to compete in the event, do you have much contact with him? And is that something you are interested in doing on a 600? 

I talk to Jack a little bit, I don’t see him all of the time or anything. We’ve been talking about maybe doing that round at the end of the year, but we haven’t confirmed anything yet. But it’s definitely a thing on my mind, yes.