Interview: Harry Thompson

from CIK-FIA

For the past three years, Harry Thompson (age 15) has been one of the most dedicated drivers on the international scene in the OK-Junior and then OK categories, especially in the FIA Karting Championships.

European Junior Vice-Champion and 3rd World Championship in 2017, the young Briton confirmed the following season by finishing 2nd again in the European Championship, this time in OK, when he was not yet 14 years old!

Although Harry was a contender for the title in 2019, he finished the season in style on the 3rd step of the World Championship podium in Finland and keeping his DKM German Championship.

CAN YOU RETRACE YOUR JOURNEY FROM THE BEGINNING?

When I was very young, nothing predestined me to become a racing driver. Luckily, I lived near the Rye House track, north of London. We went there with a friend of my father’s, we rented a kart and it was a revelation. I was only six years old but I quickly knew that’s what I wanted to do!

I started in 2012 at the age of seven and a half in the Mini category. For me, Karting was not simply a hobby for very long. Very quickly, I wanted to win races. I took my first podiums in 2015 in Great Britain at the national level. I became Champion in 2016 and I went international in OK-Junior in 2017 with excellent results: victory at the Winter Cup, European Vice-Champion and 3rd in the World Championship.

I also have a good memory of the IAME International Final in Le Mans, where I won everything: my seven heats, the Prefinal and the Final! In 2018, I started the season in Junior, but with my team, I decided to move to OK for the third race.

BETWEEN RACES AND TESTS, YOU ARE IN THE SEAT OF A KART ALMOST EVERY WEEK. IS IT DIFFICULT TO FIND THE MOTIVATION EVERY TIME?

No, Karting is what I love, it’s my passion. Every time I start a race, it’s to try to win it. The motivation is always there, constantly! Even when a weekend seems to get off to a bad start, I try to move up the rankings and finish on a high note. Sometimes it ends well, sometimes there is disillusionment. But in any case, I am determined to make the next meeting a success. Of course, not all competitions are the same. A World Championship, for example, creates additional pressure. We need to be even more focused.

YOU HAVE JUST SPENT THREE GREAT YEARS WITH THE RFM TEAM. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT IT?

For me, discovering international competition in OK-Junior with an English team was the best solution. The Ricky Flynn team is very professional, with incredible experience. I’ve learned a lot. Together, with the support of Red Bull, we have won many podiums. I thank them for all they have given me. This adventure with RFM and Red Bull has come to an end, but it has been very beneficial to me. In 2020, I have chosen to climb one more rung and race in KZ. It will be a new challenge that I will take up under the colours of the KR Motorsport team.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE STANDARD REACHED BY THE FIA KARTING EVENTS?

I think for a young driver, there’s nothing better! It is a wonderful education in elite competition. Everything we learn there is incomparable. This remains an essential step before moving on to cars. The standard is very high and even a place in the top 10 is very difficult to achieve.

AT THE END OF 2018, YOU WON THE TROPHY FOR THE TOP ROOKIE OF THE FIA KARTING SEASON IN OK. DID YOU EXPECT A BETTER YEAR IN 2019?

That’s right, but our competitors gave me and the RFM team a lot of trouble. Sometimes we were missing a little performance during Timed Practice. In OK, the slightest tenth makes a significant difference. Also, luck has not always been on my side. In a European Championship race, all you have to do is retire in one heat to see your podium hopes fly away. It’s a shame, because I’ve often had good pace in the race. Fortunately, I finished the season in the top three of the World Championship and winning the German Championship.

MAX VERSTAPPEN AND CHARLES LECLERC RACED IN KZ, BEFORE LEAVING FOR CARS. IS THIS THE PATH YOU WANT TO FOLLOW?

I would certainly like to go into cars in the future, so it’s a possibility, but the objective is first to have a great Karting season in 2020, then we’ll see… 

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