2018/19 Porsche GB Junior driver Daniel Harper returned to Porsche Carrera Cup GB action in style this past weekend (15/16 June) as he produced a sensational third victory of the season so far at Croft to extend his championship lead.
Seven weeks on from the last rounds at Donington Park in April, the Carrera Cup GB got back on track with a trip to North Yorkshire. It was Harper’s first time racing at the circuit in a Porsche, with the championship having not visited last season.
The 18 year old was immediately up to speed in his JTR prepared machine with the second quickest time in both of Friday’s free practice sessions, with the changeable Yorkshire weather having thrown up an array of wet and dry conditions.
That proved to be crucial ahead of qualifying the next day as a sudden downpour moments before the session began led to a treacherous track surface. Harper rose to the challenge though and produced scintillating pace to top the timesheets by a huge margin of 1.2 seconds.
With a second pole position out of three sessions so far this season under his belt, the Northern Irishman headed into Sunday’s two races full of confidence, with both encounters taking place in front of a huge Yorkshire crowd and the live ITV4 television cameras.
In glorious sunshine, Harper produced a brilliant performance in the opener behind the wheel of his IFS Global Logistics and fonaCAB backed Porsche. Storming away from pole position, he negotiated an early safety car period before immediately breaking clear of his pursuers.
Harper built a five second lead heading onto the last lap, with that advantage proving crucial as a dramatic climax saw him spin coming out of the final hairpin. Fortunately though, a slick 360 degree rotation got him back pointing in the right direction and onto the chequered flag to win.
The Hillsborough-based racer had posted a new Carrera Cup GB lap record on his way to his fifth win in the championship so far, however his chances of beating that time in race two were wiped out when the heavens opened just as the drivers were preparing to line up on the grid.
In torrential rain, Harper elected to follow the drivers ahead to take his fourth place berth on the reverse grid. Little did he know that behind him, everyone else had dived into the pitlane to change to wet tyres, leaving a bizarre scenario where only three drivers took the race start.
Battling heavy rain on slick rubber, it immediately became apparent that a change of tyres was needed. Once the pitstop had been completed Harper found himself at the back of the field, however a conveniently timed safety car helped bunch up the field.
Once the action resumed, the former Dromore High School student showcased the same raw speed in the wet that had taken him to pole position as he fought his way through to sixth overall and crucially fourth of the Pro Class entry for a solid haul of championship points.
The weekend’s results mean the McGaughey Refrigerated Distribution, J&J Conlon & Sons and MIS Motorsport Insurance supported driver now holds a 15 point advantage at the top of the championship heading into the next rounds at Oulton Park in a fortnight (29/30 June).
Daniel Harper: “Overall it’s been a great weekend. Pole position, race win, fastest lap and an extended championship lead, I couldn’t really have asked for anything more with the rollercoaster weather conditions we encountered across the weekend.
“I was over the moon with our performance in qualifying and to convert that into a race win was extremely satisfying. I’m not sure what happened at the final corner, but luckily I managed to keep it going round, the car didn’t stall and I brought it home for the victory.
“It was a 50/50 choice for race two and I got it wrong unfortunately. It was the hardest conditions I’ve ever raced in … especially on slicks. I couldn’t see anything, there was standing water everywhere, so it was about getting the car home in one piece and trying to pick up as many places as possible.
“After all the mayhem I came home in the same place as I started for some crucial points. We’re in a good position in the standings, but we know there is a long way to go and I’m going to Oulton Park focused on getting some more silverware and another big haul of points.”
Image from Dan Bathie/Porsche.