In front of crowds gathered for the British Grand Prix, Dan Harper made his Porsche Supercup debut two weekends ago.
Though he found fault with his own qualifying – “I just didn’t put the sectors together” – Harper put in an impressive drive on race day.
That all almost came to a premature end when another driver span on track just ahead. The Porsche GB Junior displayed spectacular car control as he avoided the incidents, a talent with its roots in his Ginetta Junior days.
“The main thing I learnt in Ginttas that I use now is the race craft,” he told Ginetta Junior Update.
“In junior racing, it is incredibly close and there are plenty of overtaking opportunities. Therefore, you learn so much about how to make an overtake, how to defend your place, how to use the slipstream and how to conduct yourself in wheel to wheel racing.
“It’s invaluable experience and it’s helped me in making some good overtaking moves in the Porsche, trying lines and moves that others might not.”
Harper made his car racing debut as the Ginetta Junior scholarship winner back in 2016. In his first year, he claimed two overall victories, finished fifth in the championship, and was the best placed rookie.
The Belfast-born driver continued with the team in 2017, fighting for the title with Tom Gamble and Sebastian Priaulx.
Harper finished third and, just a few months later, he was confirmed as Porsche GB’s Junior driver, making the move to the Carrera Cup with JTR.
“It was very difficult to adjust to Porsches,” he said. “The G40 and the Porsche are two very different cars, so I had to completely adjust my driving style to suit the much more powerful and advanced Porsche.
“It took a lot of work and time to get up to speed. Even now, every time I go out in the Porsche, I’m still learning little things to make me go faster.
“This is helped by having a fantastic team around me in Nick Tandy and JTR, with a wealth of experience to learn from.”
Harper finished fifth in the overall championship last season, just 22 points behind champion Tio Ellinas. Though he treated his maiden year in the championship as a learning year, it didn’t take him long to get up to pace, scoring three pole positions, seven fastest laps and two victories in 2018.
“2018 was all about gaining as much experience as possible and score the best results I could,” he said. “I naturally made some mistakes along the way, but our pace was good and I got a couple of wins.
“This year, it’s all about winning the championship so automatically my approach has changed. I’m fully focused on pole positions and race wins now, ensuring I maximise every opportunity to get points.
“It’s been going well so far, but there’s a long way to go.”
After four rounds and eight races, Harper leads the 2019 championship by 20 points, scoring a victory at every round and never finishing lower than sixth.
He was one of three Carrera Cup regulars to run as a guest driver at the British GP earlier this month. Harper managed a top 10 finish with a result that would have put him 14th in the overall championship standings were he eligible for points.
“To race at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone was such an amazing experience. It’s one of those meetings that could be once in a lifetime, so I savored every moment.
“It was a great opportunity for me to show what I can do, getting the chance to race against the best Porsche Cup drivers in the world. I’m pleased with the result I got.
“To race at the British GP was amazing! A great opportunity for me to show what I can do. The whole weekend was a great experience and I felt like I learned a lot in that one weekend.”
Harper has come a long way in the few years since he won the Ginetta Junior Scholarship. With entries for this year’s competition now open, he shared some advice for any young hopefuls.
“The Scholarship is a fantastic competition and I still can’t thank Ginetta enough for awarding me with the prize. It started my career and without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.
“For those who haven’t entered it and want to get into Junior racing … enter! Even if not successful, it’s a superb experience and teaches you a lot of useful skills.
“For those who are taking part, my main advice is to just be yourself and don’t feel any pressure that you have to be the quickest guy on the track.
“Nowadays manufacturers want you to be the whole package. As well as naturally having talent behind the wheel, they also want you to be physically fit and have good media skills, which are both things you can work on before the contest.”
Images credit: Dan Bathie/Porsche (Feature and Silverstone) and Caroline Rhea (Knockhill and Rockingham)
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