Dan Harper (16, Hillsborough) has been announced as the Porsche GB 2018/19 Junior at the Porsche Carrera Cup GB ‘Night of Motorsport’ end of season awards. Following on from fellow Northern Irishman Charlie Eastwood, Harper joins an elite roll of honour that includes two champions.
A versatile driver who has already demonstrated his skills with great success on quad bikes, in karts, rallying, rallycross and circuit racing, Harper overcame incredibly tough competition from four other highly talented drivers. Fighting hard for the position over the challenging assessment day at Silverstone on Wednesday 1 November were Jamie Caroline (18, Warlingham), George Gamble (21, Nottingham), Esmee Hawkey (19, Chislehurst) and Dean Macdonald (16, Kelty).
Under the watchful eyes of a panel of expert in their respective fields, the five undertook a series of on- and off-track assessments that included sessions in the second-generation 485 hp ‘Type 991’ 911 GT3 Cup, high-intensity fitness evaluation tests and media workshops.
The purpose behind offering one of the largest prizes in UK motorsport is to identify and nurture young racing talent, and to support an entry into to the Porsche Motorsport pyramid. Highlighting the opportunity provided by the international programmes for career development is the current roster of Porsche factory drivers – over half were previously Juniors.
Former Porsche Carrera Cup GB Junior Josh Webster (2014/15) and outgoing Junior Charlie Eastwood (2016/17) both excelled during their time with the championship. Webster broke multiple records in 2014 on his way to becoming the youngest ever champion, and in 2017 completed his debut season in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup fourth in the Rookie standings. Eastwood took the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Rookie title in his first season before claiming the overall title in 2017. Both champions were on hand to offer expert opinion and guidance throughout the assessment day.
James MacNaughton, Motorsport Manager, Porsche Cars GB said: “This year we found ourselves in a position where, even at the interview stage, we found it hard to narrow down the applicants. So much so that we decided to increase the number attending the shootout to five. On the day itself, much of the assessment falls to the experts we have attending, which allows us to stand back and take more of an overview.
“Dean, Esmee, George and Jamie are four supremely talented individuals on and off the track, their records speak for themselves, and the differentiators on the day were so small. I’d like to thank them all for their passion, professionalism and dedication throughout the process and hope that they still have Carrera Cup GB firmly in their sights.
“Our programme has gone from strength to strength and both of our past winners have taken the championship. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Dan to carry on that legacy of success and one that I am sure he will grab with both hands. We’re looking forward to helping him hone his skills as a world-class driver over the course of his two years with us.”
2018 season calendar and changes finalised
Headlined by the appointment of a new Porsche GB Junior, 2018 will also usher in a significant evolution for Porsche Carrera Cup GB, the result of a continuous programme of feedback and collaboration with teams, drivers and sponsors.
Introduced in 2014, the first-generation ‘Type 991’ 911 GT3 Cup will step aside for the second-generation, which features a new 4.0-litre direct injection flat-six engine producing 485 hp. In addition to the powertrain, there have been further enhancements to aerodynamics and safety while reducing operating costs. The car has been available to order from mid-October, priced at £136,100 + VAT including delivery and a comprehensive spares package.
To intensify the competition, for the first time in the championship’s history, reverse grids will feature for the Pro category in the second race of each weekend. Following the first race, a number between four and six will be selected at random. This number determines whether the first four, five or six drivers across the line for the first race will have their grid positions reversed for the second. All other competitors will form on the race two grid according to their finishing position in race one. Both races will now feature a standing start.
A new points structure, consistent across all three categories, will be introduced to simplify scoring and support the Pro category reverse grid concept. A weighting for Pro category drivers in the first race rewards qualifying performance and partially offsets the penalty for a reverse grid placing in the second. In a similar spirit, drivers in all categories that set the fastest lap during qualifying at each race weekend will be awarded two championship points. An overall points table calculated on the same basis as in 2017 will determine the Team and Rookie championships.
Changes include an additional Porsche-supported test during the season, bringing the total to five. These are included within the entry fee will take place at Silverstone National for Media Day, Donington Park, Snetterton, Knockhill and Silverstone National.
Continuing the tradition of providing a world-class calendar as part of the world-wide Porsche Motorsport family, for the first time Porsche Carrera Cup GB will visit the iconic Monza circuit in Italy, racing alongside the European Le Mans Series. The 2018 calendar still features alongside the BTCC calendar for the remaining seven rounds as part of an ongoing commitment to the TOCA package that has provided such a successful home for the championship over 15 seasons and counting. The 2018 calendar:
Brands Hatch (Indy) Rounds 1&2 6-8 April
Donington Park Rounds 3&4 26-29 April
Monza Rounds 5&6 11-13 May
Oulton Park (Island) Rounds 7 &8 8-10 June
Snetterton (300) Rounds 9&10 27-29 July
Knockhill Rounds 11&12 24-26 August
Silverstone (National) Rounds 13&14 14-16 September
Brands Hatch (Grand Prix) Rounds 15&16 28-30 September
For 2018, each competing car will be equipped with a full-HD twin camera system. One of the most sophisticated race car video data systems available, features include 1080p video, real-time synchronised video / data with graphical overlay, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity. Each competitor will have the system available for their own use at test days, and Am category drivers will additionally have access to the footage during race weekends.
Drivers and teams will again be competing for a significant prize fund, including awards of £40,000 to the overall champion and £35,000 to the winner of the Rookie class – two of UK motorsport’s single largest prizes. Winners of the Pro, Pro-Am and Am categories will be offered the use of a Porsche for a year, while the Team champions will receive a Porsche Cayenne for 12 months. The broad support package includes trackside physiotherapist support, international-standard hospitality, a Michelin tyre raffle open to all entrants at each event, and a season-long loan of a Porsche Cayenne for teams fielding two cars or more.
Night of Motorsport
Despite the level of anticipation surrounding the announcement of the new Porsche GB Junior, celebrating the end of a successful season and looking ahead to 2018 was the theme of the ‘Night of Motorsport’. Over 150 members of the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup GB family gathered at the home of a very different type of horsepower, Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, to recognise the champions and stand-out performances of the season.
A notable highlight was the ‘Sacred Driver of the Year’ award which went to Dino Zamparelli after his fight back to equal eventual champion Charlie Eastwood on points, but there were other special awards to be collected. Four Superfast Chronograph timepieces, presented by Chopard, were fittingly awarded to the driver in each category – Pro, Pro-Am1, Pro-Am2 and Rookie – who achieved the highest number of fastest laps throughout the 15 race season. Dan Cammish, Alex Martin, Peter Kyle-Henney and Tio Ellinas were the deserving recipients for 2017.
For Charlie Eastwood, Alex Martin and Shamus Jennings, the most obvious spoils of winning the Pro, Pro-Am1 and Pro-Am2 categories respectively were outside next to the red carpet. All three drove away brand new Porsche 911 Carreras, theirs for a year, and team champions Redline Racing a Porsche Cayenne.