Daniel Harper has been crowned the provisional 2019 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion, sealing the title with three races to spare courtesy of a fantastic podium finish during the penultimate meeting of the season at Silverstone (28/29 September).
Securing his first championship title in only his fourth season of car racing, the 2018/19 Porsche GB Junior driver has also made Porsche Carrera Cup GB history as the youngest ever champion in the series’ illustrious history, beating the existing record by almost two years.
Title glory is the culmination of a simply sensational campaign for Harper. Across the 14 races to date, he has secured no less than seven race wins, ten podium finishes and nine fastest laps, alongside a remarkable qualifying record that he continued at Silverstone.
The 18 year old kicked off the meeting in perfect fashion on Saturday, with a sublime effort of 54.593s around the 1.64 mile National layout securing him a sixth pole position out of the seven sessions so far this season.
Harper headed into the first race of the weekend on Sunday morning knowing he’d win the title if he finished sixth or higher of the Pro Class contenders, regardless of anyone else’s results. As you would imagine, it wasn’t going to be easy though as the weather served up a fascinating contest.
Light rainfall and an already damp circuit led to different tyre strategies amongst the entry, with the Northern Irishman lining up on the grid with slick tyres on his JTR prepared Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. Once the action got underway, it became apparent that those on wets had the pace advantage.
In front of the live ITV4 television cameras, a nail-biting first few laps saw the field shuffle into position based on their tyre choices. Harper eventually settled into a duel with 2014 champion Josh Webster for seventh overall, but crucially third in the Pro field.
Battling for grip on a greasy Silverstone circuit, the two title contenders put on a fantastic battle for the majority of the race. Harper eventually got the upper hand and went on to take the chequered flag in seventh in his IFS Global Logistics and fonaCAB backed Porsche.
Tears of delight immediately rolled down the 18 year old’s face as he crossed the line, before his return to the pitlane was greeted by rapturous celebrations from the JTR team. Following a live interview on ITV4, the emotional moments continued as Harper headed to the podium.
Greeted by a large crowd of family, friends, sponsors and fans, there was barely a dry eye amongst them as Harper leapt aboard the rostrum to roars of delight. He was soon joined by his team and family for some photographs to celebrate the momentous occasion.
There was still one race to go for the BRDC Rising Star and a surprise from the team saw the bonnet and roof of his car wrapped in ‘champion gold’ to commemorate his success. It meant the #33 machine certainly stood out in the field as they raced live on ITV4 once again.
Ironically, it proved to be arguably Harper’s toughest race of the season so far. Finding it hard to gain traction on a still slippery surface, the teenage talent fought his way from seventh on the grid to fourth at the end – continuing his run of finishing every race so far inside the top four in class.
After a weekend he will never forget, the McGaughey Refrigerated Distribution, J&J Conlon & Sons, MIS Motorsport Insurance and Motorstore NI supported racer now has one meeting left in his title-winning 2019 campaign; the season finale at Brands Hatch in two weeks’ time (12/13 October).
Daniel Harper: “2019 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion. It feels pretty surreal to say that right now. Winning the championship was the number one goal this year and we’ve all worked so hard to achieve it, which makes this feel so amazing for all of us. I think it will take a while to sink in.
“This is one of the most competitive Carrera Cup series in the world, so to win it with a weekend to spare is an unbelievable feeling. To have so many family members, friends and sponsors with me to celebrate, alongside the brilliant JTR team, has made it such a special weekend.
“Obviously the title was in the back of my mind heading into the meeting and I knew what I needed to do to win it, but I tried to ignore it and just focus on each session as they came. My pole position record is one of my proudest achievements this season, so to continue it was a great start to the meeting.
“As you would expect in the UK, the weather certainly played its part in the opening race. While we were on the wrong tyre, fortunately not many Pro drivers went on wets. To come home first of the drivers on slicks was good and that got me the points I needed for the title.
“It was such a release of emotions as I crossed the line and I admit the tears started pretty quickly. To then come in and celebrate with the team, my family, friends and sponsors was really emotional and they are moments I will remember for the rest of my life.
“There are so many people I need to thank for getting me to this point. Porsche GB put incredible faith in me when selecting me as their Junior driver and they made all this possible. Their support through the last two years has been invaluable and I’m glad I could repay them with the title.
“JTR have been the perfect team for me. They’re a fantastic group of people, and also a superbly talented squad who have given me a faultless car for every session I’ve done. Hopefully I can help them win the Teams’ title at Brands Hatch to cap off the season in style.
“Family means the world to me, so to have my parents, my sister and my grandparents there to celebrate with me was amazing. Some of my sponsors were there too and I owe immense gratitude to everyone who has backed me – without them I wouldn’t be racing at all!”
Image from Stephen Fisher/Jakob Ebrey Photography.