Daniel Harper recorded the first perfect weekend of his Porsche Carrera Cup GB career at Thruxton (17/18 August), taking a clean sweep of pole position, race wins and fastest laps to extend his championship lead heading into the final three meetings of the season.
After a sensational first half of the campaign in which he recorded three pole positions and four race wins, the 2018/19 Porsche GB Junior driver returned to action after the summer break in confident mood as he tackled the fastest circuit in the UK.
With the championship returning to the Hampshire venue for the first time since 2014, Harper’s prior experience at the track in Ginetta Juniors from two years ago proved useful as he quickly got up to speed around the track during Friday’s opening free practice session.
While the second run that day was curtailed by torrential rain, the Northern Irishman headed into the weekend in a strong position and that certainly showed in qualifying. A blistering effort of 1m 13.420s secured him a sensational fourth pole position in five meetings this season.
The opening race on Sunday morning proved to be one of the most surreal and exciting races of the 2019 season so far, with changeable weather conditions and drivers split between slick and wet tyres producing an enthralling encounter in front of a bumper trackside crowd.
Morning rainfall meant that the field lined up on a wet circuit for the race start, with Harper joining the majority of the field in braving slick tyres. That decision looked to have been questionable in the early running though, with three Pro contenders on wet rubber carving their way to the front.
Harper put in a spirited fight in his JTR machine to run side-by-side with those drivers around the high-speed section of the track and his effort was eventually rewarded as the track conditions started to turn in his favour as they reached the halfway mark.
Stunning moves around the fastest corner in the UK, Church, on consecutive laps netted him the race lead and from there he didn’t look back. Posting a fastest lap over a second quicker than anybody else, he romped clear to a six second victory.
Making history as only the third driver in Porsche Carrera Cup GB history to win at least one race in five consecutive meetings, the IFS Global Logistics and fonaCAB supported driver followed that up with another superb drive in race two in front of the live ITV4 television cameras.
Fortune was in his favour heading through the complex for the first time, with a dramatic moment ahead sending three drivers wide and opening the door for the 18 year old to slot into third position and right on the tail of the leading two drivers.
Swiftly dispatching Seb Perez on lap two, the BRDC Rising Star latched onto the rear bumper of Josh Webster and began to apply pressure to the race leader. Posting the fastest lap of the race during his pursuit, he was able to make his move at mid-distance.
A superb dive down the inside into the chicane netted him the position and from there he controlled the remainder of the race on his way to a stunning sixth win of the campaign. In the process, he became the first driver to take a double win during the championship’s reverse grid era.
The McGaughey Refrigerated Distribution, J&J Conlon & Sons, Motorstore NI and MIS Motorsport Insurance backed racer has extended his championship lead to 35 points. The next rounds come in support of the FIA World Endurance Championship around the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit (31 August-1 September).
Daniel Harper: “What an absolutely awesome weekend. It literally couldn’t have gone any better. JTR gave me a faultless car for every single session and we maximised every opportunity we had to get a perfect points haul and crucially extend our championship lead.
“I knew from the opening free practice session on Friday that we were in a good position for the weekend and immediately loved the feeling of taking the Porsche to the limit around the brilliantly fast Thruxton circuit. That gave me a lot of confidence for qualifying.
“I’m immensely proud of our qualifying record, with four pole positions in five weekends now. That put us in the best place for race one, but we could have never anticipated the changing weather. It made it the most exciting Carrera Cup GB race I’ve competed in so far though.
“It stopped raining on the second green flag lap, so I took the gamble to stay on slicks. The first 5 or 6 laps it suited the wets, but the track came to us and our decision on the tyres proved to be right. There was some great racing out there and I loved every second of it.
“I really didn’t think that a win would come from sixth on the grid in race two, but it came together for us. I got the break on the first lap and was able to push on from there. The pace in the car was fantastic and I got through to the win, which was an awesome feeling.
“Overall, the weekend literally have gone any better. It’s a great start to the second half of the season and we’re firmly focused on continuing this good run of strong results into Silverstone and get another strong points haul to continue the championship challenge.”
Image from Dan Bathie/Porsche.