Wellington racing car driver, Ben Harford, showed just what he is made of at the Lady Wigram Trophy Round at Ruapuna in Christchurch last weekend, driving his Brother Toyota Tatuus to a round victory and breaking the lap record in a dramatic display of talent.
The weekend started with 23-year-old Harford qualifying on pole in his Brother car, setting a time 2 tenths clear of second place and the only driver to set a time in the 1 minute 19 bracket. He then went on to win his first race of the 2006/2007 season breaking the lap record 3 times in the process. "After a pretty close start with Ben (Clucas) I was able to build a small gap and it was great to bring the Brother car home in front," enthused Harford.
Starting at the front of the grid again for the second race, Harford went on to win once more with what the commentators described as 'the biggest gap they'd seen' in the TRS series. Considering his competitors experience this was no mean feat, proving again that Harford is a talent to be reckoned with and a serious prospect to take out this years Championship. "This was one of those races you dream about, all I was doing was driving and the gap kept increasing. I thought about slowing down a little but I was having too much fun," said Harford.
Race 3 turned out to be the nail biter of the series so far. Harford had secured pole again for the third consecutive time that weekend, and series-leader Daniel Gaunt had set himself up next to him on the front row. Gaunt managed to take the lead from the start but Harford remained hot on his heels for the duration of the race, pushing Gaunt's car to its limits and at one stage having the crowd on their feet as he attempted a daring passing move round the hairpin.
The battle ensued for the entire 25 lap race, with the pressure showing on Gaunt as he made a mistake on the second to last corner of the final lap, seeing Harford take a dive for the lead. The crowd went wild as the two cars raced almost wheel to wheel down the front straight with Gaunt taking out the win by a mere 0.172 seconds. "What a race! Even though I didn't manage to get the triple it was a great race with Daniel and it was fun to race him hard. I'm disappointed not to win but I'm happy with my performance and we have gained some valuable points towards the championship lead," said Harford.
Harford has now closed the gap to Gaunt and leads the international series from Ben Clucas. With the next round being run in a fortnight at Taupo Motorsport Park, where last year Harford set the lap record and won the last race, he is feeling confident of another good showing.
"Taupo is my favourite track and I'm really looking forward to heading back there and running support to the A1GP. I know several of the other drivers in the series will be fast there too so it won't be easy but it certainly will be fun. I just want to thank Brother and King Toyota for supporting me this season and Automotion for making a weekend like this possible."
Ben Harford started racing when he was 16 and won the Formula Ford Winter Series in 2000 before taking a five year break to complete a degree. He returned to racing in 2004 in the TRS and finished runner up in the 2005/2006 series. He is supported by Brother and King Toyota in Lower Hutt.