Cornwall’s Chris Harris has insisted that he still has “that inner hunger to be world number one” as he paves the way for his Speedway Grand Prix comeback.
The Team Great Britain captain, who qualified this year as first reserve for the 2014 World Championship, was rewarded with a place in the SGP series after Polish rider Tomasz Gollob pulled out due to sponsorship issues.
Harris achieved a finishing place of sixth in the 2010 SGP standings, but he lost his status as part of the series in the wake of below-par seasons in 2011 and 2012. Now, though, the Coventry Bees rider has set his sights on the top-eight place he requires to retain his role in the series in 2015.
The 31-year-old Harris told speedwaygb.com: “I’m always confident. If I didn’t feel confident I could achieve the top eight, I wouldn’t bother entering the Grand Prix.
“It’s great to be in there and it’s nice to have two Brits [the other is current world champion Tai Woffinden] in the Grand Prix series again. Hopefully I can get back to my best, which is where I was in 2010.
“I still have that goal and that inner hunger to be world number one. It’s tough and not every rider does achieve that in their career, but I still have that dream and I still want to do it,” Harris added.
“I’m pleased with how the bikes are performing and the engines. When I’ve got good equipment underneath me, I can go out and beat the best. I’m doing a lot of practising and testing, and getting things how I like.”
Harris has not forgotten the hard times which saw him drop out of the series. The Truro-born racer said: “The last couple of years in the Grand Prix weren’t good.
“I had a lot on my mind. I had a few health problems and my mother lost her partner, which had a big effect on the whole family and myself.
“My mind and my hunger weren’t there any more,” said Harris, who learned his trade in the Westcountry with Exeter Falcons and Trelawny Tigers. “Up until this year, I was ready to walk away from the sport altogether, because I was so down about it. But I went away and thought about it and I realised I enjoy riding my bike.
“That’s what I want to be doing. I remembered I got into it because I’m good at it. I can ride a speedway bike and I know how good I can be. Not many people say they do a job they enjoy.”
Harris also admitted that online criticism took his toll. He added: “I used to read what people said about me, which I shouldn’t. I did, but I’ve stopped now because I can’t be bothered with it. Everyone has their opinions, but I know I can do a good job.
“I fell out of love with the sport and all that comes with it. But I’ve brushed that to the side and I’ll just concentrate on riding my bike and enjoying it. I enjoyed it in 2010 – and I finished sixth in the world.”