Triple British Supersport Champion and British Superbike podium finisher Karl Harris will make his road racing debut at the 2012 Isle of Man TT 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.
Harris has had his first introduction to the Mountain circuit from TT rider liaison officers John Barton and Richard ‘Milky’ Quayle.
Afterwards, Harris 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 (Croft) 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.”
The 32-year-old burst onto the racing scene as a teenager in the 1990s, when he rode for Team Great Britain in the Superteen Championship.
Harris went on to win the 1999 European Superstock 1000cc Championship before spending a season in the World Supersport Championship.
He became a dominant force in the highly competitive British Supersport Championship in the early 2000s winning three championships between 2001 and 2004, the first for Crescent Suzuki and the others for Honda Racing.
Since progressing to the premier British Superbike category in 2005 he has become a prominent front-runner for factory Suzuki, Honda and Yamaha teams.
His best season came in 2006 when he finished in 5th with 6 podiums. 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 a formidable competitor in the BSB Championship, fielding riders including Michael Rutter, Chris Walker, James Ellison, Dan Linfoot, Jason O’Halloran and Harris.
The team’s best season came in 2010 when Walker finished 10th in the championship, but, arguably, the finest moments were in the second half of the 2011 season when Ellison joined the team and took a succession of top 8 finishes, including a brilliant 3rd 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, it has decided to tackle the Mountain Course this year.
SMT Racing Team Manager Croft said:
“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.”
Isle of Man Government TT and Motorsport Manager Paul Phillips added:
“Karl Harris is undoubtedly one of the most naturally talented riders on the British scene in the last 10 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.”