Harper tops the Rookie Cup tree as Ginetta Champs reach half way

Daniel Harper celebrated another great finish last weekend. Pic: Jakob Ebrey Photography
Daniel Harper celebrated another great finish last weekend. Pic: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Daniel Harper is in good shape at the mid-season break of the 2016 Ginetta Junior Championship Rookie Cup.

He secured a sensational pair of overall podium finishes at Croft this weekend to extend his lead at the top of the standings.

Daniel Harper in action during a thrilling first half of his maiden car-racing season. Pic: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Daniel Harper in action during a thrilling first half of his maiden car-racing season. Pic: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Bouncing back in style from a difficult visit to Oulton Park two weeks ago, Harper was in supreme form around the technical North Yorkshire circuit as he collected a vital big points haul with third and second place overall finishes as well as a Rookie Class podium hat-trick.

It rounds off a fantastic first half of Harper’s maiden car-racing season, which has produced five outright podium finishes, including the stunning maiden win at Donington Park, plus seven Rookie Cup top threes.

Those successes have given Harper a 42 point lead at the top of the Rookie Cup standings as he lies fifth overall in the championship heading into the six week summer break, with the championship returning to action at Snetterton in Norfolk on July 30/31.

“The weekend started off pretty well in practice and we were looking good for some strong results,” Daniel said.

“We had the pace in qualifying, but luck wasn’t in our favour with a car spinning in front of me on my fastest lap, though seventh was still a position we could fight from.

“I benefitted from an incident at the start of race one and get Onto the podium which was fantastic, and then it was even better in race two as I grabbed second at the start.

“That set us up well for race three and we were going for victory, but it didn’t go our way after being hit at the first corner. Fortunately I was able to get back on track and fight back onto the Rookie podium from there which I’m delighted about.

“It’s been a rollercoaster first half of the season. Some of it hasn’t been too fun, like Thruxton and Oulton Park, but we’ve had some fantastic results and I’m happy with the progress we’ve made. Hopefully we can enjoy more success from Snetterton onwards.”

The Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner laid down a marker for a positive weekend during Friday practice, immediately making his presence felt towards the top of the timesheets as he finished second, just five hundredths of a second shy of the pace-setter.

A difficult qualifying session saw the Hillsborough lad unable to find the clear space on track required to replicate his testing pace, and he finished seventh.

He knew the pace was there to move forwards in race one and the TJ Filters-backed racer would go on to do just that.

He made a superb launch off the line gaining a position, before he expertly picked his way through an incident to slot into third place.

From there, Harper attempted to take the Rookie lead from Seb Priaulx in front, whilst also fending off a group of Ginetta G40s behind.

Determined not to threaten his strong points finish with a risky overtaking move, Harper settled for third overall and second in the Rookie Cup, which put him in the same position on the grid for race two later that afternoon.

Repeating his fast getaway from the opening encounter, Harper stormed past Priaulx into Clervaux for the first time to take second, before immediately latching onto the rear bumper of his Douglas Motorsport team-mate Stuart Middleton in front.

Working in partnership with his team-mate to try and build a gap to the pack behind, Harper looked quicker than the leader during the middle portion o, but stuck behind Middleton to the chequered flag for a one-two team finish.

With a fifth Rookie Cup victory under his belt, Harper was confident of challenging for another as he lined up third on the reverse grid for the final race, which took place in front of a huge Yorkshire crowd and live on ITV4.

Once again Harper was quick off the line and immediately grabbed second, but there was disaster at the first corner as a hit from the rear sent him spinning around, able only to get into 16th.

Fired up, Harper was a man on a mission as he fought his way back through the field Quickly climbing into the top 12, the 15 year old expertly worked past a couple of Rookie Cup rivals to take ninth overall and second in class.

Now it’s a well-earned break for the young star.