After winning the Pirelli World Challenge GT Cup championship in 2017, Yuki Harata has made the step up the GTA category this season driving for Dream Racing Motorsport.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Harata, who is a former professional downhill skier, fills us in on his transition from the slopes to the race track, the differences in GT Cup and GTA, and more.
How has the transition to the GTA class from GT Cup gone?
“I would say has gone well. I enjoy the racing a lot. Sometimes the GT Cup class felt a bit lonely with few cars and now I enjoy being in contention with a lot of drivers, and also have the chance to measure myself with the pros.”
What is the biggest difference in driving the Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo that you drove last year compared to the Huracan GT3?
“The Huracan GT3 is a wild bull! Jokes aside, I enjoy the GT3 a lot. For sure it’s a more demanding car at the limit.
“With the Super Trofeo it’s easy to get right away up to speed, while the GT3 require a bit more work and a very precise driving style.
“The Super Trofeo is more forgiving. I think the Super Trofeo prepares you very well as a driver in order to step up to GT3. The performance is very similar.”
What did it mean to you to earn your first GTA class win at Long Beach?
“It meant a lot. Not only it was my first victory with the GT3 and in the main series, but also I had all my family there who traveled from Japan.
“For sure it was an outstanding moment. Long Beach has so much history and it feels great to be one of the few Japanese drivers to win there.”
How has your skiing experience helped in your transition to sports car racing?
“For sure I’m not afraid to take risks. Sometimes the car feels safer than flying down a mountain with just a pair of skis, so I think this experience helped a lot.
“Also being involved in skiing at professional level helped me to have the right mindset for car racing.
“On the technical side, I think skiing and driving are quite similar: you need to look always far away and know how do design the best line to carry the maximum speed possible inside the corners.”
What makes Pirelli World Challenge an attractive series for you?
“I like the variety of the races and the format, and the racing is fun.
“I like especially the SprintX format because it gives me the chance to have a direct benchmark of my driving with my teammate and I learn a lot about car setup. The paddock has a very nice atmosphere, it’s fun to be out there.”