Belfast Telegraph

Rising star Harper gets Silverstone Supercup call

Porsche leader: Daniel Harper
Porsche leader: Daniel Harper

By Sammy Hamill

Daniel Harper's stock within the Porsche motorsport family continues to soar.

Still only 18 but already leader of the GB Porsche Carrera Cup, Harper has been invited to join the field for the Porsche Supercup round which supports the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next month.

The Supercup, which runs as a support championship for Formula 1, is the pinnacle of Porsche's global one-make motorsport pyramid and brings together the leading Carrera Cup drivers from around the world, all of them in identical 911 GT3s.

Harper, who is in the second year of his £160,000 junior scholarship with Porsche GB, sees the Silverstone appearance as an opportunity to open doors and progress his fledgling career.

"This is a going to be a great learning experience for me, putting myself up against the best one-make Porsche drivers in the world," he said ahead of a two-day test session at the Northamptonshire grand prix circuit.

"I'm going to be working incredibly hard between now and the race to make sure I'm in a position to maximise this chance to showcase my talent to a wider audience. Hopefully if I can do well and prove myself in the Supercup paddock, it might open doors as I look to progress in my career."

The Hillsborough teenager has just completed his A Level studies at Dromore High School and can now concentrate on his racing. Currently the youngest ever leader of the GB Carrera Cup championship, he has two more rounds of the series to complete - at Croft and Oulton Park- before his big Silverstone date.

"Having watched the British Grand Prix my whole life, to race as part of the F1 weekend is going to be an awesome experience," he added.

Meanwhile, this weekend Kris Meeke returns to the rally which ended his Citroen career 12 months ago. It was after his huge Rally Portugal crash that the French team summarily dismissed him and co-driver Paul Nagle, a shock move which many thought spelled the end of the Ulsterman in the World Championship.

But far from it. Sure, he had to sit out the rest of the 2018 season but now he's back and revelling in the happier surroundings of Tommi Makinen's Toyota team. And he rubbishes notions that a return to Portugal may create issues for him.

"It's great to be back in Portugal, it is a rally I really like," he insists. "I won here in 2016 and led the rally last year and the year before so the accident and the aftermath doesn't bother me."

Sitting fourth in the WRC standings after challenging for wins on virtually every round so far this season, Meeke says he and co-driver Seb Marshall "just need things to go our way a little bit" to claim their first victory of the season.

"Everything's there [to win] and the feeling in the team and with the car is fantastic. The luck just hasn't been with us. Maybe we'll get a break this weekend."

Citroen's six-times World champion Sebastien Ogier leads the series by 10 points from Meeke's Toyota team-mate Ott Tanak, the winner last time out in Argentina, with Hyundai's Thierry Neuville in third place. Ford's Elfyn Evans is fourth.

There is a ceremonial start in Coimbra, near Lisbon, tonight ahead of three days in the forests, finishing on Sunday with the signature Fafe Power Stage.

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