Harper Closes Superb Maiden Porsche Campaign With Stunning Brands Hatch Pace
Daniel Harper has sensationally ended his maiden season in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB with more pole positions and fastest laps than any other driver after once again showcasing his tremendous raw speed during the 2018 season finale at Brands Hatch (29/30 September).
Returning to the scene of his championship debut back in April, the 2018/19 Porsche GB Junior driver once again lit up the timesheets in his IFS Global Logistics Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car as he took a pole position, two fastest laps and a best finish of fourth in Kent.
The iconic Grand Prix circuit at Brands Hatch would host the final two rounds of the season, a track that Harper is very fond of having taken a double victory there in the Ginetta Juniors twelve months prior, and his connection with the circuit was clear to see in Friday’s free practice.
Setting the pace in his Team JTR machine, the Northern Irishman would go on to replicate that feat in a thrilling qualifying session the next day, with a blistering last gasp effort of 1m 27.113s securing him top spot by the tiniest of margins, just seventeen thousandths of a second.
Added to his pace-setting exploits at Monza and Knockhill, Harper’s third pole position of the season set him up nicely for the final race day of the season, which he was determined to make a double celebration alongside his Granda’s 80th birthday.
The opening race was a milestone 70th start for Harper in his blossoming car-racing career so far, however it didn’t start too well as some wheelspin off the line dropped the BRDC Rising Star to third place heading through Paddock Hill Bend for the first time.
Maintaining position over the next couple of laps, Harper moved up to second place on lap four when the race leader suffered an unfortunate spin, which opened the door for him to start piling the pressure onto the new pace-setter, his JTR team-mate Lewis Plato.
Harper looked to seize his opportunity heading into Surtees bend on lap seven, however as he drew his car alongside entering the corner, some robust defending from Plato sent him bouncing across the kerbs and into a dramatic spin, which dropped him to fourteenth place.
The fonaCAB supported driver battled back superbly from that disappointment to quickly rise to twelfth before a mid-race safety car period, and his forward momentum continued after the restart as he fought his way through to ninth place at the chequered flag.
Lining up in the same position on the grid for the final race of the day, Harper was determined to put on a show for the live ITV4 television audience and the huge crowd packing the banks around the circuit, with a strong drive in a frenetic opening lap seeing him emerge in sixth.
Following a short safety car period, Harper immediately pounced on the driver ahead to slot into fifth position, before taking another opportunity soon after to rise to fourth and put himself in contention for a possible podium finish.
With eventual series champion Tio Ellinas ahead of him and his chief title rival Dino Zamparelli behind, Harper elected not to get involved in their championship battle and went on to produce a mature drive to the finish in fourth, which confirms his top five standing in the final points.
That result caps off a brilliant first Porsche campaign for the Daily Bake and McGaughey Refrigerated Distribution supported driver, who bounced back from some early season misfortune to go on and outscore the top two drivers in the standings over the last ten races of the campaign.
Harper ends the year with six podium finishes to his name and the accolade of securing the highest points scoring weekend of anyone this year with his pole, win and second place at Knockhill; results that fill him with confidence heading into the 2019 Porsche Carrera Cup GB season.
Daniel Harper: “It’s been a good end to the season. To finish Friday practice fastest for the third time in four meetings was a great platform for the weekend and I’m delighted I could convert that pace into pole position on Saturday. I gave it absolutely everything and it was a mega lap.
“Unfortunately it didn’t quite go our way in race one. After the slow start I was determined to get back into the lead and the gap was there, but Lewis [Plato] squeezed me onto the kerb and I spun. If it was the other way around, I’d have done the exact same thing so there’s no complaints.
“From there, I knew I needed to make up some ground and ninth was a solid finish. It gave me the chance to make more progress in race two and it was an enjoyable race, picking my way through to fourth and it was a shame I couldn’t quite nick a podium to end the year.
“Our pace has been strong from the start of the year, but after some bad luck and mistakes early on, it really started to click for us from Oulton Park onwards. I couldn’t be happier with our form since then, we were on the podium four weekends in a row and got an awesome couple of wins.
“To end my first season with the most pole positions and fastest laps is beyond anything we expected at the start of the year, considering the calibre and experience of the drivers at the top of the field like Tio Ellinas and Dino Zamparelli. I’m immensely proud of the success we have achieved.
“I must say a massive thank you to all my sponsors and everyone behind the scenes who has made this possible for me. All the support I receive means so much to me and without them all, I wouldn't be racing.
“Likewise, none of this would have been possible without Porsche GB. Through the highs and lows they have supported me 100% and helped me develop as a driver. It has been an honour to represent them as their Junior driver, I’ve loved every second of the experience and I can’t wait for 2019.
“Finally, thank you to the whole JTR team. They have been flawless this season, giving me a perfect race car every time I go out on track and working hard with me to improve each weekend. 2018 has been my best season in racing so far … now to make 2019 even better.”