Belfast Telegraph

Teen stars Harper and Young wow crowds on a tough day for Turkington and Smiley


Brand winner: Daniel Harper takes Carrera Cup victory
Brand winner: Daniel Harper takes Carrera Cup victory

By Sammy Hamill

On a "difficult" day for British Touring Car stars Colin Turkington and Chris Smiley, two teenage Ulster drivers, stepped up to the mark at Brands Hatch.

Daniel Harper made it a double podium start to his GB Porsche Carrera Cup campaign with first and third and Jack Young scored a two-one finish in the UK Renault Clio Cup.

"Pole position, fastest lap and a victory - it doesn't get much better than this," said 18-year-old Harper as he started the 2019 Carrera Cup series with a lights-to-flag win at the Kent circuit.

The Dromore High School student did, however, have one heart-stopping moment when, in race one, he came up to lap a gaggle of backmarkers. One of them moved onto his line, sending Harper's JTR team Porsche sliding across the grass and cutting his comfortable lead over Lewis Plato to just a second.

In the reverse grid race two he had to settle for third behind George Gamble and Plato but leads the series.

Methodist College student Young was edged out by Max Coates in the first of the Clio Cup races but came back to reverse the positions in race two, taking his first victory in the UK series.

It had all started so well for BTCC champion Turkington when he qualified third fastest with Team BMW's new 3 Series. But on a damp, foggy morning in quickly went awry when his choice of wet tyres proved wrong.

He and the others at the front of the grid including pole man Ash Sutton were soon swamped by the slick tyre gamblers as the track dried and it was the BTC Racing Honda of Josh Cook that came through for the first win of the season.

Turkington was a distant 22nd and the Honda of fellow Ulsterman Smiley, also on wet tyres, got nudged into the barriers.

In race two Turkington could only get as high as 14th while his BMW team-mate Andrew Jordan sliced through from 15th place to take an impressive first win for the 3 Series. Smiley was 20th.

But both could heart from race three which saw Turkington climb to fifth and Smiley surge through the field from 20th to seventh as Tom Chilton became the third different winner on the day for Ford.

Meanwhile, Desi Henry got the confidence boost he was looking for ahead of the next round of the Irish Tarmac Championship, the Easter Stages, with a start to finish win in the Strabane-based Eakin Brothers Rally.

The Portglenone driver admitted he had struggled with his R5 Skoda Fabia on the opening two rounds of the premier Tarmac series and switched to Saturday's Northern Ireland Championship event in an effort to find answers.

"We were having a problem with the car crashing out over the bumps and jumps. We made a lot of changes to the suspension and it seems to be working very well now," explained Henry after his 14-second win over the R5 Ford Fiesta of Callum Devine.

Devine slipped up on the first stage, an overshoot costing him 12 seconds he was never able to make up despite a strong finish seeing him set fastest times on the final two stages.

The two of them were a long way clear of the rest although Kevin Eves put in a storming performance to claim third in his Toyota Corolla, finishing ahead of reigning NI champion Derek McGarrity's WRC Fiesta. Ryan Loughran was fifth in his Escort and a 20-second penalty dropped Derek McGeehan's WRC Mini from third to sixth.

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