‘Bomber’ Takes Off With Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport
As one of the world’s top speedway racers, Chris ‘Bomber’ Harris earns his living by power sliding his way around oval dirt tracks at speeds of 80 mph and more, on a 500 cc single-cylinder motorcycle that’s powered by pure ethanol, has one gear and no brakes!
So with its smooth and fuel-efficient common rail turbodiesel engine, impressive array of ‘comfort’ features and sophisticated safety armoury, his new Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport van could not be more of a contrast.
What ‘Bomber’s Benz’ does have in common with his bike, though, is an exciting dash of dynamism, courtesy of its punchy 163 hp engine, 17 in six-spoke alloy wheels and chrome sidebars.
Captain and star rider of the Coventry Bees team, Chris won the British Grand Prix in 2007, an achievement widely reckoned to be the biggest event in domestic speedway for years. He is also a three-time British Champion and made the Grand Final once again at the 2014 competition, staged last week (16 June).
The 31-year-old purchased his Long-bodied Vito Sport – with the help of a sponsorship contribution – from the city branch of Dealer Midlands Truck & Van. He and his mechanic are now using the vehicle to travel between race meetings in the UK.
Strikingly sign-written by Baker Ward, of Hollywood, Birmingham, it is based at the Bees’ Brandon Stadium, where Chris has a workshop, and carries two bikes as well as tools, spares, helmets and leathers.
The Truro-born ace keeps a second Mercedes-Benz Van, this time a Sprinter, for use on the Continent, where he also competes on Tuesday and Sunday nights for teams based in Poland and Sweden, countries in which top speedway riders enjoy a similar status to Premiership footballers.
“I’ve bought a few Mercedes-Benz vans over the years and they’ve always proved reliable, comfortable and practical,” recalls Chris. “But this new Vito Sport is definitely the best yet – the performance is very sprightly while the alloy wheels and chrome trim mean it looks great too.”
He adds: “I have a fantastic relationship with Midlands Truck & Van’s sales executive Gez O’Reilly. He understands what I need and provides a brilliant service.”
His 2007 British Grand Prix triumph earned Chris a second BBC South-West Sports Personality of the Year award; he was also voted Midlands Sports Personality of the Year, beating footballer Gareth Barry (then of Aston Villa) into second place.
Also available in Compact length, and in Dualiner format (with a second row of seats), the Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport comes with sliding doors on both sides, as well as a top-hinged tailgate. The vehicle’s impressive standard specification includes air conditioning, a multi-function steering wheel, Speedtronic limiter and cruise control, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, a Comfort single co-driver’s seat, driver and passenger airbags, and a high-performance Audio 20 in-cab entertainment system.