Dromore High School pupil Daniel Harper was forced to retire from both races in the latest round of the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship.
Harper headed to the Cheshire circuit ready to bounce back from a mixed outing at Thruxton last month, and was hoping to return to the sort of form that saw him take a maiden outright race win in only his fifth race in the series at Donington Park in April.
The 15-year-old’s confidence was increased following a strong showing in Friday practice, during which he posted the third fastest overall time of the day, though he could only translate that into the ninth best time in qualifying.
Harper was confident that he could use his racecraft and move forwards in the opening race however, and so it proved as he enjoyed a superb first two laps, expertly picking his way through the order to slot into fifth position.
The Hillsborough teenager began to put his rivals ahead under immense pressure, but early contact had damaged his front left steering arm and wishbones.
They then failed on lap six, sending his Ginetta G40 off circuit and eventually into retirement in the pitlane.
A fantastic effort from the Douglas Motorsport team saw the car fixed and ready to go for race two on Sunday, which took place in front of an estimated trackside crowd of over 35,000 fans and the live television cameras of ITV4.
Harper would go on to star again in the sweltering sunshine over the opening few laps, with some brilliant overtaking seeing him climb from 18th on the grid into the top 10 within just three laps, putting him right onto the tail of the Rookie Cup leader.
Just as Harper was ready to make a challenge for the lead however, he had nowhere to go at the Island hairpin as a driver in front spun into the middle of the circuit, with the resulting contact causing more damage to the front left of Harper’s Ginetta and another retirement.
Despite the double disappointment, the Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner still leaves Cheshire with a 37 point lead in the Rookie Cup heading to the next pair of races at Croft in North Yorkshire in two weeks’ time (18/19 June).
Daniel Harper: “Naturally I’m really disappointed with the pair of retirements this weekend. We showed fantastic pace straight from Friday practice, and I’m really pleased with the progress we made at the start of each race.
“My Dad and all the team did a fantastic job to repair the car after the opening race and I really wanted to reward them with a strong performance.
“We were firmly in contention for the Rookie Cup lead, but luck just wasn’t in our favour.
“We’ll regroup and go again at Croft.”