Harper extends lead with another double podium

Daniel Harper put in another impressive performance last weekend.
Daniel Harper put in another impressive performance last weekend.

Daniel Harper secured a pair of Rookie class podium finishes to extend his lead at the top of the Ginetta Junior Championships standings last weekend.

It was a rollercoaster triple-header meeting at Knockhill, with the Dromore High School student picking up two second place finishes in his class.

Nevertheless, even that wasn;t enough to satisfy the ambitious teenager.

“Overall it’s a bit of a disappointing weekend,” he said. “We had the pace for better results, but I’m pleased to have come away from the weekend having extended the Rookie lead and we go to Rockingham now determined to get back onto the overall podium.”

The reigning Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner’s first ever visit to the Scottish circuit came following a superb visit to Snetterton at the end of July, during which he picked up a pair of overall podium finishes including a second win of the campaign.

Harper’s Knockhill preparations couldn’t have gone smoother across pre-event testing on Wednesday and Friday, as he got immediately acquainted with the unique track and produced impressive top three pace in both dry and wet conditions.

That would be crucial at a track renowned for changeable weather, as was shown in qualifying when rainfall prior to the session meant the crews were greeted with a tricky drying circuit, which Harper negotiated well to put himself sixth on the grid with a 1m 02.164s effort.

Whilst not the result Harper ultimately wanted, he headed into race one confident of making forwards progress in his Douglas Motorsport Ginetta G40 and the Northern Irishman would go on to do exactly that, immediately moving up to fifth position on the opening lap.

Two laps later Harper dispatched championship leader Will Tregurtha for fourth, putting the top three firmly in his sights.

After slipping back to fifth a few laps later, Harper fought back superbly to regain fourth and secure second in the Rookie class.

Lining up fourth for the second race of the weekend, another characteristically fast start saw Harper storm up to third position off the line, before showing his overtaking prowess at Clark’s to move his TJ Filters-backed machine into second.

While Harper lost that position at the final hairpin on the next lap, contact between the top two moved him into second, before a drive through penalty for the race leader gave the 15 year old the advantage at the front.

Immediately settling into a rhythm at the front, Harper would set the fastest lap of the race as he pulled out a one second lead, however a slight mistake at the chicane on lap ten would see his advantage eradicated.

An optimistic move from his pursuer into the first corner on the penultimate lap led to contact between the two, with Harper getting pushed back to third, where he finished after briefly regaining second.

During the post-race judicial process however, Harper was deemed to have jumped the race start and was subsequently handed a 30 second time penalty, which dropped him to 15th.

With that result setting the grid for the final race, Harper faced an uphill struggle in front of the live ITV4 cameras, but the NHillsborough lad rose to the challenge and produced some fantastic overtaking manoeuvres to climb to ninth.

Harper took the chequered flag as the second highest Rookie contender to make it two class podiums, results which have extended his lead at the top of the class standings to 78 points with eight races remaining.

“The races started well with fourth overall and a Rookie podium in the opener. We got into the lead in the second race and were looking strong before making a little mistake and falling back, though it was an overall podium,” he said.

“The penalty was disappointing and cost us those points, as well as putting us at the back of the grid. We showed our pace though to get back through onto the Rookie podium.”

The Championship continues on August 27/28 with a visit to Rockingham in Corby for another triple-header.