Australia has two lads strutting their stuff in international championships that go by the name of “Harry” and both had a very confronting year in 2021. I covered Harrison Voight in the last instalment, while the other Harry is of course Harry Khouri , more commonly called ‘Hazza’, and he’s taken a different path as he aims to turn his aspirations into success.
Unlike many others that learned their early race craft in dirt track racing, Hazz did very little in that discipline; just a couple of club races, but heaps of training days to learn the basics before he turned to road racing and entered the GP Juniors series in 2017, riding a Yamaha R15.
Such was his improvement during that year, he was presented the opportunity of an invite from AMCN magazine for a Wild Card ride at the final round of the ASBK Supersport 300 at Phillip Island.
During the next two seasons the progress to the front of the ultra-competitive class continued at a steady pace, and in 2018 he finished sixth and seventh respectively in the Yamaha R3 Cup and the Supersport 300 class.
During 2019 Khouri travelled to Europe to try his luck for the first time and contested two rounds of the IDM German Championship, at Assen and Hockenheim. His performances at those two outings was enough to be invited to competed in the entire season of IDM in 2020.
At the beginning of that wretched year, Khouri competed in the first round of the ASBK Supersport 300 title, held alongside the Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island, (that event seems so very long ago now…) where he banked a perfect score of pole position and three wins.
With the consequences of the pandemic, the German racing season didn’t commence until July, but he had already relocated over there in anticipation of the year. The wait was worth it, as he claimed his first two international wins and a second place during the series where he finished seventh. After leading the title at one stage, he had a crash at the final round which saw him to drop down the order.
Obviously, the Australian season was decimated by the plague, with limited racing, but the cloud lifted enough for a double header round at Wakefield Park in December. Harry underwent the necessary requirements of quarantine to return to compete and claimed the shortened three round championship to add an Australian title to his rapidly expanding resume.
2021 promised plenty, with a move to the Supersport 300 World Championship, run alongside the Superbike World Championship, with the Fusport RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki Team. With over 40 riders split between two groups to determine grid spots, it’s a cut-throat class where a few hundredths of a second can mean the difference between qualifying and not even getting a place on the grid.
The year started well at the first round where he claimed a ninth place, but in the race the next day he was taken out by another rider. From there, the season unravelled. At the next round at Misano, he crashed during the Superpole session and broke his hand. Hazza learnt quickly how little mistakes can mean severe consequences as he battled throughout the rest of the season, with only three point scoring finishes in the next 10 races.
But the unthinkable happened in the first race of the penultimate round, at Jerez, when he was involved in the tragic accident that claimed the life of Dean Berta Vinales, cousin of Maverick. Harry was utterly distraught over the incident, and as such was not permitted to race the next day.
The next weekend he competed in the final round at Portimao, rounding out the season with an 18th place.
This year Khouri will continue in the Supersport 300 World Championship title and has signed with the Irish-based, Team 109, and will return to Europe in the next few weeks.
DOB 1 March 2004
Lives: Richmond (NSW)
Mark Bracks: So a new team and renewed focus for 2022?
Harry ‘Hazza’ Khouri: “Yeah, after everything that has happened I am really looking forward to the new challenge. I will once again be based in Andorra throughout the season. It’s a good place and great for training because it’s all at altitude.”
Bracks: Are you living near Jack Miller and many of the other Aussies that are based there?
Khouri: “We aren’t too far away from each other. As you know Andorra isn’t a large country, but I haven’t seen much of Jack as we are doing different things and it’s not often you catch up with other riders as you do your own stuff.”
Bracks: Last year was certainly a pretty trying year for you.
Khouri: “It was a tough year both mentally, and physically. Coming into the year I only knew one track – Assen – from the year before, so I had a lot to learn with the new team and seven new tracks on the calendar. It wasn’t a bad start; P9 in the first race then I was taken out in the second race. Then we went to Misano and I broke my hand and it sort of all went a bit downhill from there. Overall I am not entirely disappointed with the season, but I’m disappointed in the way I know I could’ve done better.”
Bracks: I don’t want to dwell on it too long but what happened at Jerez is something no rider wants to think about.
Khouri: “Unfortunately these things can happen in our sport, and it is something that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. I would have liked to ride the next day, just to take my mind off it a little bit – as that’s one thing that riding does for me. And having to race again only a week later with that still on my mind was not just hard for me, but all the other riders as well.”
Bracks: I bet. Was Dorna good to you?
Khouri: “They were very respectful with it, however I wish that they gave me the chance to at least go out in warm-up. I can completely understand why they didn’t, because I was genuinely very upset about the weekend but it would have helped take my mind off the accident. The response from within the paddock and also outside was overwhelming. Many of the riders and teams came to see me in the garage, and I received messages from a lot of others around the world, and from back home.”
Bracks: That was a steep learning curve for you. How much can you take out of that – all the knocks. Not only Jerez, but everything with your injuries etc. Has that made you stronger in your determination and personality?
Khouri: “I think after having a year as hard as I did and still have the determination to keep going, I can draw from the negatives and focus on what I need to do for the coming season.”
Bracks: What are your goals for this year? I know it’s hard joining a new team and trying to think ahead…
Khouri: “My goal is always to be up the front and challenging for the win, and I didn’t give myself enough opportunities for that last year. I know I have the capability to be there, and am confident that Team 109 and I can achieve this together. Its difficult to know where you are at until the first test, where you get a reference in terms of other riders in the championship.”
Bracks: So the team is shaping up well?
Khouri: “Team 109 are a great bunch of guys and their focus is young rider development. They promote a great team environment and I’m looking forward to getting the season started in March. Daniel Mogeda from Spain has signed with them again. He and I are similar in speed, and I think we can really help each other out during the year.”
Bracks: I suppose one thing with an Irish team they’ll teach you how to celebrate! How is your Spanish?
Khouri: “Hopefully we’ll have a few opportunities to celebrate this year. I’m a bit useless at Spanish at the moment so Google translate is my friend!”
Bracks: All the best Hazz. Hopefully, it all turns around for you and we see you battling at the front a lot more often and you crack a win.
Khouri: “Thanks Bracksy. That’s the main aim mate!”
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