Belfast Telegraph

Daniel driven to succeed

By Sammy Hamill

His dad knows all about success and now 13-year-old Daniel Harper is making his own mark in motorsport.

The Dromore High School pupil has just finished an outstanding karting season in which he won the Northern Ireland and Irish championships, the Champion of Champions meeting, the Irish Kart Grand Prix and the Irish Open Plate.

No wonder young Daniel was voted Driver of the Year at the NIKA awards presentation. And he was "over the moon" to receive his award from another Driver of the Year, fellow Ulsterman Colin Turkington, the British Touring Car champion.

Daniel's 2015 string of successes follows on from last year when he split his time between karting and quad racing, winning both Northern Ireland titles.

But motorsport is in his blood, being the son of Stan Harper, one of the leading rally engineers in the country.

Stan has built and run many championship-winning cars including the Subarus in which Kevin Lynch won the NI championship three years in a row.

And big sister Alex made her rally debut this year, driving a Nissan Micra in the Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland - a route Daniel hopes to take once he reaches his 14th birthday.

"I was shocked to receive the Driver of the Year award from Colin Turkington, but it was a great finish to a superb year, which I enjoyed so much. A big thanks to the NIKA committee for voting for me," said Daniel, who has been supported by Team Kart Shop owner Andrew Lyons, brother of sportscar racing star Richard Lyons.

"The big challenge this year was stepping up to the Motorsport Ireland series for the first time, against new opposition and having to learn new tracks.

"We missed the first round in Cork, as we had not planned to contest this series, but Andrew Lyons encouraged us to try it so dad and I loaded up for White River Park, near Dundalk.

"The weather changed from dry to wet for race day but it just all worked out and we took three straight wins that weekend."

It was a performance that shocked the opposition but it was no flash in the pan as he went on to claim the title at his first attempt before the last round had taken place. His efforts were recognised when Daniel was also presented with the Irish Junior Driver of the Year award.

"It has been an amazing couple of years and I am so grateful for all the help I received but I can't wait for next year and the chance to go rallying," added Daniel.

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