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Harper Stars At Brands Hatch With Winter Series Podium Double

Daniel Harper has brought his 2016 racing season to a close with an impressive performance in the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Winter Series, securing a pair of podium finishes and a top three championship finish at Brands Hatch.
Harper headed into the weekend with a different Ginetta G40 beneath him to which he used in the main championship this year, with the 15 year old hoping that it would prove to be a good omen having been the machine his team-mate Stuart Middleton took to the 2015 Winter Series title. Following some positive testing at the circuit on Friday, the weekend began in perfect style as Harper produced scintillating pace in treacherous wet conditions during the opening qualifying session, topping the timesheets by over seven tenths of a second.

Some wheelspin off the line would see Harper drop to third at the start of the opening encounter though, but the Northern Irishman reacted with an impressive fightback, which he kicked off with a slick move for second position at Paddock Hill Bend on lap two. Four laps later a stunning switchback manoeuvre through Clark Curve would earn him the race lead, but his advantage would be short-lived as contact to the rear at Graham Hill Bend on the next lap would spin him down to seventh position. Another fast comeback drive would see Harper pick his way through to fifth in the final two laps of the race, before a post-race penalty for the driver who made contact with him promoted Harper to fourth in the final results, putting him in the same position on the grid for race two.
That race would start in frustrating fashion for the Douglas Motorsport ace though who found himself forced down to seventh place on lap one, but that gave him the chance to produce another superb recovery drive as he fought his way through to take third position at the finish.

Following the wet opening day, the conditions would improve overnight ahead of the second day of racing, which would run to the same format as the opener with another qualifying session setting the grid for the first of two races. It was almost a case of déjà vu for Harper who topped the timesheets for a large part of qualifying, but he missed out on a clean sweep of the weekend’s pole positions by just 0.184 seconds, though he still put himself second on the grid for race three. A best race start of the weekend so far would allow Harper to maintain second early on, before he mounted a challenge for the lead in the final third of the race. Trading fastest laps with the leader, he got side-by-side at one stage but eventually had to settle for second at the flag.

With two podium finishes under his belt, Harper was confident he could complete a hat-trick in the final race of the weekend and his chances looked positive after another strong start would lead to him holding second position for the first portion of the race. Some impressive defensive driving saw him hold off two determined rivals behind until a slight mistake heading into Paddock Hill on lap six led to him running wide, which allowed the duo through and left Harper to run in fourth position until the finish.

The clean sweep of top four finishes meant Harper would end the weekend in a clear third overall in the final points standings, bringing to a close a phenomenal twelve months of Ginetta Junior competition that also saw the Scholarship winner crowned the 2016 Rookie Cup champion.

Daniel Harper: “The weekend started off pretty perfectly with pole position by the biggest margin in the championship this year. That gave us loads of confidence heading into the four races and we got the lead in the opener, but it was only for a couple of corners before it all ended in tears.

“The contact ended our chances of a podium in that race and really made it a struggle for the second race, so we were pleased to come into the second day with a podium and third in the points, but knew it could have been more considering our wet pace in qualifying.

“We had another strong performance in qualifying on Sunday with second on the grid and I was pleased to turn that into another podium finish in the first race, but the mistake in the final one just showed again that it wasn’t our weekend.

“We had the speed and we just needed the luck really. Still, I’m pleased with the pace and overtaking we showed over the weekend and it was good to end the year in competitive form. Thank you to Douglas Motorsport for all their work this season, they’ve been brilliant.”

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