Young Daniel Harper is handed a crash course on tough side of racing
Daniel Harper is learning that motor racing is a school of hard knocks. From the highs of a first UK Ginetta Junior Championship victory at Donington, the 15-year-old Dromore High School student has found himself caught up in a series of crashes.
By and large Harper has been a victim of fierce, close-combat racing but that is small consolation as he has slipped down the overall championship table.
Oulton Park at the weekend, where Colin Turkington was back on the top step of the British Touring Car Championship podium, was typical of Harper's ill luck in recent races.
Third fastest in practice, he qualified ninth but was up to fifth within a couple of laps when a seemingly innocent contact with another car resulted in a steering arm breaking.
A major effort by the Wayne Douglas team, aided by Daniel's dad, rally engineer Stan Harper, got the Ginetta repaired in time for Sunday's second race. It meant a back-of-the-grid start but within two laps he was into the top 10 and challenging for the rookie category lead when the car in front spun, taking both of them out of the race.
Harper tried to re-join but realised the bodywork was on fire and drove to the marshal's post to have it extinguished.
"I'm disappointed," said Harper, who retains a lead in the rookie championship. "My dad and the team did a fantastic job to repair the car and I wanted to reward them with a performance but luck wasn't in our favour."
Meanwhile, Charlie Eastwood chalked up another podium in the Porsche Carrera Cup, taking third at Oulton Park in a race cut short by red flags.
He finished fifth in race two, consolidating his third place - and leading rookie - in the standings.