Daniel Harper has taken the championship lead in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB for the first time after a superb start to the 2019 season saw him convert pole position into a race victory during the opening rounds at Brands Hatch this past weekend (06/07 April).
Kicking off his second season as the Porsche GB Junior driver, Harper was the driver to beat in Kent as he carried his stunning form from the end of the 2018 campaign and started the new campaign in scintillating fashion with a pair of podium finishes.
The Northern Irishman headed back to the scene of his Porsche Carrera Cup GB debut twelve months ago with confidence high after a hugely positive pre-season testing programme, which included timesheet-topping performances in official tests at Donington Park and Brands Hatch.
The eighteen year old carried that pace into free practice on Friday and ended the day second fastest overall. With just a tenth of a second separating him from top spot, he carried plenty of momentum into qualifying the following day with the JTR team.
A change in the weather provided a fresh challenge for Harper as a wet circuit greeted him at the beginning of the session, however as the minutes ticked by the track began to dry and he was one of the first drivers to take the gamble of slick tyres.
After dealing with a treacherous first few laps, it became clear it was the right decision and Harper took full advantage. A sensational lap of 48.431s lit up the timesheets and secured him a fourth pole position in the Carrera Cup GB by an incredible margin of over half a second.
The opening two races of the season came on Sunday and once heavy morning fog had cleared, Harper lined his IFS Global Logistics backed Porsche up on pole position determined to taste success in front of the live ITV4 television cameras and a huge trackside crowd.
A superb launch off the line saw Harper lead the field through Paddock Hill Bend for the first time and the BRDC Rising Star never looked back, putting in the fastest lap of the race as he built a lead of over four seconds to his nearest competitior.
Negotiating traffic caused some tricky moments for Harper in his pursuit of the chequered flag, but a composed drive saw him come through to record his third victory in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB and the twelfth of his blossoming career so far.
The reverse grid draw for race two placed the 18 year old Dromore High School student in fourth position for race two and another strong start saw him challenging for the top three at Druids on lap one, however a slide wide unfortunately dropped him to fifth.
An intelligent drive saw Harper pick his opportunities to work his way up to third place, and while a seven second gap to the next car greeted him, the fonaCAB backed racer wasn’t phased and he lapped as the fastest driver on track as he hunted down the top two.
Harper’s determination and stunning lap times got him onto the rear wing of the car ahead with a lap to go and while he tried to force an opportunity to make a move, he unfortunately ran out of time and had to settle for third place at the finish.
The McGaughey Refrigerated Distribution, J&J Conlon & Sons, MIS Motorsport Insurance and motorstore.ni supported driver’s performances earnt him the championship’s official ‘Driver of the Weekend’ award and the points lead heading into Donington Park in three weeks’ time.
Daniel Harper: “What a way to kick off the 2019 season. I had a difficult start to my Porsche Carrera Cup GB journey last year, so the focus this time around was firmly on banking points and giving ourselves a great platform for the season ahead, which is exactly what we achieved.
“I was really pleased with how our pre-season testing went, but you never know where you truly stand until the first race meeting of the season and therefore to take pole position in qualifying and convert it into a race win was incredibly satisfying.
“Pole position, race win, fastest lap, another podium finish, championship lead and driver of the weekend, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Thank you to JTR for giving me a truly faultless race car all weekend and thank you to all my sponsors for making this possible.
“Now I have the championship lead, I don’t want to lose it. I love Donington Park and the official pre-season test went well there, finishing fastest overall. We go there full of confidence and hopefully we can enjoy another weekend like we have at Brands Hatch.”
Image from Dan Bathie/Porsche GB.