Guy Harrington: Alderwasley's Racing Driver
Geoff Ford meets the Alderwasley racing driver Guy Harrington.
It was supposed to be a learning year. At 20, Alderwasley racer Guy Harrington was the youngest and least experienced driver in the 2007 British GT Championship, but he's always been quick and very competitive. By the end of the season Guy and team mate Ben de Zille Butler had won two races in their Aston Martin DBRS9 and come within an ace of taking the title. 'We went into 2007 knowing it was going to be tough,' said Guy. 'We thought top ten results would be great but we exceeded all of our expectations. What a great year!'The Aston Martin was a big step up from Guy's previous experience, which was in karting and three years racing Caterham's. 'I'd done a little karting but not too much, I'm too tall and I wasn't very aerodynamic,' Guy laughed. 'I only really progressed when I began racing Caterhams.'As a 17 year old, Guy won the 2004 Caterham Academy Championship and then took the Caterham Roadsports title the following year. In 2006 he came third in the Caterham C400 series and victory at Donington, together with some good late-season results, earned him the runner-up spot in the Caterham Eurocup series behind Ben de Zille Butler. The lightweight Caterhams are great for learning racecraft as racing is always very close.There is racing in the Harrington blood, Guy's father Peter began racing in the 1960s at his local circuit, Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire, before he and his wife Nadine moved to Derbyshire in the 1970s. Peter designed and built his own FFord car, winning the championship with 21 victories. 'I only stopped racing in 2002 and Guy took over from there,' Peter told me.Guy and Ben had impressed Barwell Racing's Chris Needell who offered them the team's third car for the 2007 British British GT Championship. 'Guy will be an asset to the team,' Chris enthused. 'He's an ideal young British driver and it's what the series needs.'With their background, Guy and Ben both found the Aston suited them and both were consistently quick, an important factor in a series that often pairs professional racers with slower gentleman drivers. 'The handling characteristics are quite similar to the Caterhams,' said Guy. 'A heavy engine up front, rear wheel drive and a lot of power.'The first two races were at Oulton Park. Following a fifth place, Ben began race two from tenth place and moved up to eighth before handing over to Guy, who carved through the field for an excellent fourth place finish.Both Guy and Ben had won in Caterhams at Donington where races three and four where held. They qualified second for race three and only Ben was able to maintain the pace of Alex Mortimer's leading Dodge Viper, as they opened a large gap to third place. At the driver change Bradley Ellis stalled the Viper while Guy made a clean getaway. That was enough to give Guy and Ben their maiden GT victory. 'It was a fantastic race,' Guy exclaimed. 'We didn't expect this at all, the team were hoping to work up to the win later in the season, but we surprised ourselves.'Nadine and Peter were on hand to share the moment. 'We're a bit overwhelmed,' said Peter. 'To win at only their second meeting is absolutely incredible.''We are very proud,' Nadine agreed. 'I think it's a wonderful testament to both of them, they're well matched, very consistent and that's what comes through in the end.' I wondered if Nadine had worried when Guy first went racing. 'Initially I did, like any mother you are protective, but having seen him race, seeing his coolness and the way he approaches the whole aspect of motor racing, I don't have any worries at all.'As the second Donington race approached the one hour time limit, Tom Alexander's second placed Aston and Ben (fourth) were both low on fuel. To save having to complete another lap the team radioed Paul Drayson in the leading Aston to slow, but as he crawled through the final chicane the Astons, with David Jones' Ascari between them, caught Drayson. As Alexander swept past, Drayson wandered into the path of Jones, allowing Ben to sneak third place behind Drayson. Guy and Ben left Donington leading the championship and picked up another podium at Snetterton before engine failure ruled them out of the first race at Brands Hatch. The teams' hard work overnight was rewarded with third place in the second race. There was more bad luck in the two hours race at Silverstone. Ben, doing the first stint clipped the back of Drayson's Aston who braked unexpectedly to avoid a spinning car. This split the oil cooler hose and Guy and Ben had to retire.The Thruxton meeting in August put their challenge back on track with a third place and a second victory for the season at a circuit neither had raced at before. 'The Aston was well suited to Thruxton,' Guy told me. 'It was fast and flowing and we got up to 180mph on the back.' The tight twists and turns of Croft should not have suited the Aston, but remarkably they came away with a brace of second places and returned to the head of the championship by a single point. Guy's final stint in race 2 at Croft brought the car from thirteenth at the driver change to fourth before he passed the other two Astons for second place.Sadly the tight infield section at Rockingham at the final meeting got the better of all of the Astons. Two victories for the Dodge Viper of Bradley Ellis and Alex Mortimer clinched them the title while Guy and Ben failed to add to their tally. 'It was a real shame,' Guy reflected. 'David Jones ran in to me and spun me around. We were having trouble getting the power down in the big Aston and then I made a mistake. The car started bouncing and it just got away from me.'Despite the disappointment it had been a memorable season and Barwell had wrapped up the teams championship with Guy's second place at Croft. Autosport magazine, in their season review, ranked Guy fifth in a field of experienced British GT drivers. 'The GT debutant impressed immediately,' they declared. 'He will only get stronger as his experience grows.'Guy and Ben face a new challenge for 2008 as Barwell has pulled out of the British series to concentrate on American racing. The boys have signed to race for Chad Racing, an experienced outfit returning to the series with a couple of Ferrari 430s and, at the time of writing, Guy was looking forward to his first test in the new car in February. In the future Guy would love to tackle the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but for now is happy to keep adding to his experience.This spring Guy is also hoping to launch a new venture in partnership with his brother Peter. Guy cut his business teeth in his father's property business, but this new enterprise will incorporate Peter Junior's interest in cycling. They plan to sell cycle clothing through their website AlwaysRiding.co.uk which should be up and running by April. This will help to sponsor Guy's racing activities, but he is always on the lookout for additional investors and is particularly keen to attract local sponsorship.So, after his rookie year in GT racing, Guy Harrington has learned quite a lot, not least that he has what it takes to be a winner at this level. He is now one of the brightest prospects in British racing with a great future ahead of him.
For up-to-date information on Guy view his website at www.guyharrington.com