Eyes of the Sport Compact world on Harvey’s Winternationals push

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One of the world’s most pursued drag racing records is being challenged at the Gulf Western Oil Winternationals, with New Zealand’s Rod Harvey aiming to reset the outright Sport Compact record.

The Sport Compact designation includes six cylinder, four cylinder and rotary motors, but the top teams in the world all use turbocharged Toyota 2JZ six cylinder engines for their horsepower. Harvey is no different and has been one of the pioneers of the motor’s development.

Last month at Sydney Dragway’s Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder event, Harvey rocked to a new personal best of 5.721 seconds at 256.89mph (413.41kph). The run’s elapsed time made him the third quickest Sport Compact racer in the world and put him in sight of record holder Victor Flores’ 5.660 pass.

While many racers are about trophies and championships at the Gulf Western Oil Winternationals, Harvey said he is all about the numbers.

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“I just want to go stupid fast,” he said. “If I win the Pro Extreme class, no one will remember in a few years. But if we run (a world record), everyone knows and we will have messages from around the globe.

“When we went 5.72 in Sydney, our video of the run had 100,000 hits within 24 hours. There are going to be eyes from many countries watching the Winternationals to see what we can do.”

Harvey debuted the Camry at Willowbank last year for some test launches, but then had to rush the car into a shipping container to send it to Orlando, Florida for the World Sport Compact Challenge. The tight time frame meant Harvey didn’t have the chance to develop the car, until now.

“We didn’t necessarily struggle (in Orlando) but we had things on the car we couldn’t change while we were away,” he said. “We knew there was room for improvement. Ben (Bray) and I sat down after we got back and figured out what we could change to run better.”

Harvey admits he is only just getting comfortable in the Camry after spending the better part of a decade racing his Toyota Celica, another car that was world famous.

“I drove the Celica for 10 years ago, so things feel totally different,” he said. “We can apply power levels early in the run with our Camry that would have upset the Celica because the chassis is now longer and a later model. The engine package is not much different to what we add, but the difference is we are getting down the track with a better success rate.

“From what we can see in the data at Sydney, we can make the car go quicker if everything goes in our favour. If we can get down the track A to B we would be happy, if we could match our Sydney performances we would be ecstatic and if we went any better, that would just be a bonus. But we won’t be mucking around.”

The Gulf Western Oil Winternationals runs from June 6 to 9 at Willowbank Raceway. Tickets are available online at www.willowbankraceway.com.au or at the gate.

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