Daniel Harper Shines With Sensational Pace On Porsche Carrera Cup GB Debut
Daniel Harper got his Porsche Carrera Cup GB career underway with a fantastic display of speed and racecraft during the season opener at Brands Hatch, with only a race one puncture cruelly denying him a potential podium finish.
The 2018/19 Porsche GB Junior driver would immediately announce himself as a potential superstar in the championship as he qualified third on the grid for his maiden race, before wowing the crowd with some spectacular racing in the opening two rounds of the season.
Harper entered the first of his two prize seasons in the Carrera Cup GB with confidence high following a hugely positive pre-season testing programme with the leading JTR team, and he kicked off the meeting by posting the fourth fastest time in Friday practice.
The Northern Irishman would go one better in qualifying the next day however as he produced blistering pace to lap the 1.2 mile Brands Hatch Indy circuit in just 46.406 seconds, which was enough to secure him a second row start for his first race in the series.
A treacherous, wet circuit would greet Harper as he lined up on the grid in his IFS Global Logistics and fonaCAB backed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car on Sunday morning, however he quickly adapted to the conditions as he ran in fourth in the early stages.
The seventeen year old would make a decisive move coming out of Clearways on lap five to take third position, and while his time in the podium positions was short-lived, he spent the next few laps firmly in contention at the front as he battled with some established names in the series.
Unfortunately Harper was unaware that contact with another driver had caused a slow front left puncture on his Porsche and as the race progressed, the issue got worse and he was powerless to prevent himself from slipping down the order.
Dan would show a racing head beyond his years as he slowed his pace to ensure the tyre lasted until the chequered flag, meaning he secured some crucial championship points in thirteen position overall to ensure there was some reward from a race that held such early promise.
The Daily Bake and McGaughey Refrigerated Distribution supported driver would produce an impressive fightback in front of the live ITV4 television cameras, with a fantastic start from thirteenth on the grid seeing him climb five positions on the opening lap alone.
Harper would go on to post the fastest lap of the race as he closed onto the pack in-front, with his sheer pace being shown by the fact that he pulled a gap of over seven and a half seconds to the car behind in just nine laps of the short Indy circuit.
One more position would go Harper’s way on lap sixteen, however that would be the end of his charge as a couple of big accidents would lead to two lengthy safety car periods and eventually the red flags to signal a premature conclusion to the race.
The seventh place finish means the Hillsborough based racer ended the weekend ninth in the overall championship standings, however he heads into the next two rounds at Donington Park in three weeks’ time (28/29 April) confident of moving up the order and challenging for a maiden podium finish.
Daniel Harper: “Overall I’m pleased with the weekend. While the puncture was a real disappointment and ruined our chances of front-running results in the two races, we’ve really shown our pace this weekend and proved we can be challenging for the podiums from the off.
“I was really pleased with how qualifying panned out. To finish third fastest was a brilliant result and made clear the pace we had in the car, especially as I was on a lap that could have put me second before I had to pull out due to a spinning car in-front.
“I loved the racing in both races, it was fast, exciting and close-fought. Sadly it took just one piece of contact to spoil the weekend for us, as without the puncture I’m sure we would have continued challenging for the podium in both races.
“Getting the first weekend completed is a huge weight off my shoulders, it was a steep learning curve for me both on and off track, and with the experience under my belt I’m confident that if luck is on our side we can enjoy a really positive weekend at Donington Park”