Harper Impresses On Porsche Supercup Debut With Silverstone Top Ten

Daniel Harper produced a fantastic drive to eighth position on the biggest race weekend of his career so far, as he made a guest appearance in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup in support of the Formula 1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone this past weekend (12-14 July).

In front of over 100,000 fans across the meeting at the ‘Home of British Motor Racing’, the 2018/19 Porsche GB Junior driver produced an impressive display as he ended the weekend as the highest placed British driver and the second best rookie overall.

Current Porsche Carrera Cup GB points leader Harper was one of five drivers from the domestic series to join the Supercup grid at Silverstone as he made his debut in the championship, which is the pinnacle of Porsche’s pyramid of global one-make Carrera Cup series.

After an eye-catching display during the official championship test at the circuit in May, the 18 year old headed into the meeting in confident mood and got off to a strong start in his JTR machine as he posted the tenth fastest time in free practice on Friday evening.

The IFS Global Logistics and fonaCAB supported driver continued his quick pace in qualifying the next day, with a best effort of 2m 02.797s ensuring he finished as the fastest of the guest drivers and ahead of reigning Carrera Cup GB champion Tio Ellinas in eleventh overall.

Harper ended up just 0.025s adrift of 2017 and 2018 Supercup champion Michael Ammermüller, but was left frustrated knowing that bar a small mistake on his fastest lap, he had the speed to qualify within the top five. The Northern Irishman was therefore keen to make amends on race day.

In front of a passionate home crowd mere hours before the start of the Formula 1 race, it proved to be a frantic start to proceedings as the 32 car field went through Village corner for the first time, with Harper on the receiving end of heavy contact to the side of his car.

Fortunately the Hillsborough-based driver was able to continue, but damage caused from the incident would go on to hamper his progress as the race went on. Under overcast skies with a faint drizzle in the air, he settled in tenth position in the early stages.

Immediately battling with experienced series regulars including Ammermüller and Al Faisal Al Zubair, Harper maintained position until lap eight when a heart-stopping moment saw him narrowly avoid a stranded car in the middle of the road ahead of him.

Moving up to eighth following that incident, the McGaughey Refrigerated Distribution, Motorstore NI, J&J Conlon & Sons and MIS Motorsport Insurance backed racer went on to produce a sublime defensive drive in the closing laps as he fended off the attentions of series podium finisher Jaap van Laagen.

With his superb performance capturing plenty of the live television coverage on Sky Sports F1 and Eurosport, Harper survived contact from van Laagen and kept his pursuers at bay to take the chequered flag in eighth position overall.

Daniel Harper: “What a fantastic weekend. The whole experience was incredible and to come away in the top ten against the most talented one-make Porsche drivers in the world is a really satisfying result for myself and the JTR team.

“Unfortunately qualifying put me on the backfoot for the race. The car was there and sadly I just didn’t put the sectors together. With the long lap and the tyre life, you only really get one lap to get it right and sadly a little mistake put me in 11th when the data showed we could have been top five.

“It was a tough race. I quickly found out that everyone is more aggressive on track compared to the Carrera Cup GB and if I could go back I’d probably have got my elbows out a bit more in the first few laps, but that’s racing and I was pleased to run in the top ten throughout.

“Eighth wasn’t quite the result I dreamt of, but I said heading into the meeting that a top ten result against this calibre of field would be good so I can’t be too disappointed. I loved every moment of the whole meeting and I can’t thank Porsche enough for giving me this opportunity.

“I took a moment on the cool down lap at the end to soak in the occasion, with lots of Union Jacks around the circuit and fans cheering and applauding us all. It’s a special moment for me to compete at the biggest race event in the UK for the first time and I’m immensely proud to have come home as the leading British driver in the race.”

Harper now has a five week break before the Porsche Carrera Cup GB returns to action at the fastest circuit in the UK, Thruxton on August 17/18. After that, he will be racing on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit once again as the Carrera Cup GB joins the support bill for the FIA World Endurance Championship on August 31/September 1.

Image credit: Porsche AG / hoch zwei