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Latest News: Daniel Harper Scores Crucial Points With Donington Park Top Five

BMW M Motorsport works driver Daniel Harper and team-mate Darren Leung showed tremendous pace to continue their British GT Championship title challenge with a hard-fought fifth place finish in the latest race at Donington Park (27/28 May). 

A busy week for the Northern Irishman saw him conclude the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, before heading to Spa-Francorchamps for two days for the 24-hour prologue and then to Donington Park for official testing on Thursday ahead of the race weekend.

Harper and Leung set a promising pace from the off in their Century Motorsport prepared BMW M4 GT3, with further confidence stemming from the team and Leung having taken their maiden GT3 victory at Donington Park during the 2022 season finale last October. After making good improvements with the car through the two free practice sessions on Saturday, they produced a great performance in qualifying. Leung finished fifth in his session before Harper went fourth quickest in his, setting the fastest times of all in the first and second sectors of the lap.

Their efforts combined secured them fourth on the grid for the two-hour race on Sunday, with Leung starting behind the wheel. Initially losing a spot to fifth, he kept tabs with the lead pack through the first half of his stint, before slipping back to sixth as he negotiated the GT4 class traffic. With a maximum 20 second success penalty set to be added to their pitstop time as a reward for their Silverstone win last time out, they knew they needed a safety car period around the pitstops to maintain their chance of staying in the front group … and luck was in their favour.

A lengthy pause to the race action included the pitstop window, meaning Harper only slipped back one place due to the added time. The race restarted for a 24-minute sprint to the flag, and the 22-year-old talent wasted no time with a mega dive into Redgate corner for sixth. He repeated the move into the same corner on the next lap to rise to fifth, before he quickly caught onto the tail of the car ahead to make it a three-car battle for third. With fine margins between the trio and the desire to bank some good points for the championships, he took no risks and brought the car home fifth at the chequered flag.

Daniel Harper: “Following testing on Thursday our realistic ambition for the weekend was finishing in the top six, so to qualify fourth and then finish fifth in the race was fantastic and the best result we could have achieved with the pitstop success penalty.

“When Darren was in clear air, he was one of the fastest cars out there and we were lucky that our wishes came true with a safety car period covering the pitstops, but after some bad luck in the season so far we’ll certainly take it. I had great fun at the start of my stint pulling off a couple of moves into Redgate, and while it was a shame not to be able to make more progress, I’m more than happy that we maximised the race and got a good haul of points on the board. We remain right in the mix in the championship and I’m confident that we can go to Snetterton next time out and have a good weekend. We go there with no penalty for that one and our pace has looked strong in testing, so we want to challenge for the podium.”

Harper and Leung lie just 7.5 points off the championship lead heading into a pair of one-hour races at Snetterton in two weeks’ time (17/18 June). Next up for him though is the second round of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup at Paul Ricard this weekend (03/04 June).

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