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Daniel Harper's on track with the experts

By Sammy Hamill

Published 03/11/2015

Future star: Daniel Harper will race on the same circuits as his heroes next season
Future star: Daniel Harper will race on the same circuits as his heroes next season

A year ago Daniel Harper was presented with the Northern Ireland Karting Association's Driver of the Year trophy by Colin Turkington but next season he will race on the same UK circuits as the two-time British Touring Car champion.

Daniel, (14) who is a pupil at Dromore High School, is the recipient of the 2016 Ginetta Junior Scholarship and the lucrative prize of a fully-funded season in the Ginetta Junior Championship which runs alongside the British Touring Car Championship.

An initial candidate list of 65 young drivers was whittled down to 23 who took part in a series of driving tests and assessments over three days at Bedford Aerodrome where Daniel made the final shortlist of three.

He was chosen ahead of England's Harry King and Channel Islander Seb Priaulx, son of the three-time World touring car champion, Andy.

"It was a fantastic week for me and I really enjoyed every moment of it but I still can't believe I got into the final three - and won," said Daniel.

But he has been winning on wheels since he was no age.

In 2013 he scored a unique double in winning both the quad bike and kart Ulster championships.

And in 2014 he won the Northern Ireland Karting Association Championship as well the Motorsport Ireland Irish Kart Championship, the Champion of Champions meeting, the Irish Kart Grand Prix and the Irish Open plate.

His achievements saw him win the Driver of the Year Award at the NIKA prize-giving where Turkington presented him with his gong.

But with his dad Stan one of the leading rally engineers in the country it was no surprise when he ventured into rallying this year in the Junior Ireland 1000 Challenge, leading the first round of the series, and finishing a close second, before taking wins at the Bishopscourt and Shackleton rounds.

Young Daniel still found time for the occasional foray into karting, winning the prestigious Formula One Management organised event at Nutts Corner before a trip to France for the World kart finals at Le Mans where he set the fastest time in practice but ended up being taken to the medical centre by ambulance after a crash.

Undeterred he made the final, albeit well back on the grid, and came through to finish seventh before heading to England for the Ginetta finals.

His prize includes a Ginetta G40 car run by a professional race team, a full supply of tyres and fuel for the season plus testing, training and driver coaching, a package worth in excess of £100,000.

"It was a very close call between the final three, with each quite deserving in their own right," said chief instructor Tom Ingram.

"In the end, I think Daniel is a very worthy winner."

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