Daniel Harper enjoyed the best weekend of his car-racing career to date as he sensationally converted pole position into a race victory and a second place finish during a dream Porsche Carrera Cup GB meeting at Knockhill this past weekend (25/26 August).
Harper headed to Scotland in his best run of form in the championship so far with four consecutive top four finishes, a record he superbly continued around a circuit he had excelled at last season as well with a pair of Ginetta Junior podium finishes.
While the 485hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car would provide quite a different challenge around the fast, undulating 1.2 mile Knockhill circuit, Harper was immediately at home in his JTR machine as he posted the fastest time overall during a pre-event test on Wednesday.
The Northern Irishman, whose supreme talent was recognised by the prestigious British Racing Drivers’ Club ahead of the meeting as they named him a BRDC Rising Star, continued to light up the timesheets on Friday as he set the pace again in free practice.
Harper would only get faster as he tackled Saturday’s all-important qualifying session, with a sensational effort of 48.735s securing him a brilliant second pole position of his maiden Carrera Cup GB season so far and with it a new Knockhill qualifying lap record for the series.
A change of weather overnight presented him with a new challenge as he lined up at the front of the grid in his IFS Global Logistics-backed machine for the opening race, however an expert start in treacherous wet conditions saw him lead the field down Duffus Dip for the first time.
Harper controlled proceedings in the early laps, however at the end of lap six he found himself having to hit the brakes on the main straight as a backmarker pulled across in front of him, with the subsequent loss of momentum ultimately costing him the race lead.
A long safety car period allowed him to compose himself though and at the restart he was a man on a mission, with a superb move into Clarks corner on lap fifteen putting the fonaCAB, Daily Bake and McGaughey Refrigerated Distribution-supported driver back in front.
From there it was a brilliant drive to the chequered flag, with Harper immediately pulling a one second gap to the pack behind before extending that advantage to over four seconds on his way to a masterful second victory of his maiden Carrera Cup GB season so far.
The win would lead to him starting the reverse grid second race from fourth on the grid, however that did not faze the Dromore High School student as he produced another brilliant performance in front of the live ITV4 television cameras.
With conditions proving particularly tricky over the first half of the race, Harper bided his time in fourth position until he capitalised on a mistake from the championship leader to grab third place, before holding that spot as they negotiated traffic in a busy mid-race spell.
Harper soon loomed large in the mirrors of the second place driver though and after putting him under pressure for a number of laps, a bold move into the first corner on the final lap forced his rival into a mistake, which he seized upon to move into second.
A fifth podium finish of the campaign ensured Harper was the proud recipient of the Carrera Cup GB’s official ‘Driver of the Weekend’ award, while it also means he has the honour of completing the highest points-scoring weekend of any driver in the championship so far this season.
Daniel Harper: “I’m absolutely over the moon. When we came to Scotland on Tuesday I could have never expected to enjoy the success I have done this week. It’s probably the best race weekend of my career so far and it’s been another huge leap forward for me in this championship.
“To be the fastest driver in both the dry and wet conditions was particularly pleasing and I think that’s a sign of the continued confidence I’m building with the car. This track seems to suit me for some reason and I’m delighted I could capitalise on that.
“The races were incredibly hard. The conditions were treacherous and the spray made visibility a real issue, particularly when trying to overtake the backmarkers. It was touch and go at points, but I relished the challenge and enjoyed the races.
“It’s really clicked for me in recent meetings and that gives me so much confidence heading into the final two rounds and next season. Thank you so much to JTR for giving me a superb car all week, and to my loyal sponsors for getting me here.”