- Simon Paice
Daniel Harper Strengthens Title Challenge With Superb Silverstone Win
Daniel Harper has continued his scintillating form in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB with a stunning seventh win of the season; the highlight of an eye-catching weekend competing on the world-famous Silverstone Grand Prix circuit (31 August/1 September). On the championship’s blue riband weekend in support of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the 2018/19 Porsche GB Junior driver followed up his victory with a great display in race two, recovering from twice being spun by contact to get more crucial points in fourth position. Harper’s preparations for the weekend were aided by his outing on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit last month in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, with the knowledge and experience of the track gained giving him a good platform to start from in Friday’s free practice sessions. The Northern Irishman immediately laid down a marker to his rivals as he topped the timesheets in both runs, with only one other driver ending the day within eight tenths of a second of his best time. It proved to be a similar story in qualifying the next day as Harper once again starred. Behind the wheel of his JTR Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, the 18 year old put together a sensational lap in the closing minutes to go nearly three tenths of a second faster than anyone else and record his fifth pole position out of six meetings this season. Lining up on the front row of the grid for the opening race on Saturday afternoon, Harper produced a great launch off the line to lead the field through Abbey for the first time. Immediately breaking clear of his pursuers, he impressively built a 1.8 second lead by the end of lap one. The IFS Global Logistics and fonaCAB supported driver was a truly dominant force from then on. Pulling away from the pack over the course of the 35 minute encounter, a composed, faultless performance resulted in him taking the chequered flag with a five second winning margin. Having continued his record of winning the opening race in every meeting so far this season, Harper was placed fourth on the reverse grid for race two on Sunday morning. It proved to be one of the most action-packed races of the campaign for the BRDC Rising Star. Moving up to third in the opening sequence of corners, Harper attempted a move for second at the Club chicane further around the lap. Unfortunately contact from title rival Lewis Plato spun him around and dropped him to 11th position. Harper went on to produce an immediate recovery drive, with a combination of blistering pace and eye catching overtaking moves seeing him gain no less than seven places in under five laps to get back into fourth place, right on the tail of the final podium position. With momentum firmly on his side, the teenage talent hounded the driver ahead and almost got past on a couple of occasions. Unfortunately his efforts were halted as contact from behind by Plato spun him around again and left him forced to make another fightback from 10th place. A composed display from Harper saw him once again make rapid progress up the field, with more impressive overtaking moves putting him into fifth place on the final lap. Plato then made the gentlemanly gesture of moving aside to let Harper through to fourth at the finish. Harper’s resilience and dedication was rewarded with another strong haul of championship points, which means the McGaughey Refrigerated Distribution, J&J Conlon & Sons, MIS Motorsport Insurance and Motorstore NI backed driver maintains a healthy points advantage. The next rounds sees the series head back to Silverstone in a months’ time to race on the National circuit (28/29 September), ahead of the season finale on the Brands Hatch GP circuit (12/13 October). Daniel Harper: “What a weekend! The two races couldn’t have been much more different, but we got a great haul of championship points across them and kept ourselves in a strong position in the title battle heading into the last four races of the season. “With the experience we gained from the Supercup outing, we came into this meeting with a good foundation and JTR gave me an incredibly fast car throughout. Friday went really well and that set us up well for qualifying, which went perfectly once again. “Race one was awesome. I got the good start and a decent lead at the end of lap one. It was all about managing the tyres from there and their battling behind helped me keep building the gap. The car didn’t fall off and I could bring it home for a crucial win. “In a weird way, I really enjoyed race two. I felt we had the pace to win it, so it’s a shame we didn’t get the chance to challenge for it, but it was an exciting race with lots of overtaking and a chance to put on a show for the fans on a big weekend alongside the FIA World Endurance Championship.”
Image from Dan Bathie/Porsche.