Teenage Porsche scholar Harper picks his Carrera Cup team
Daniel Harper will come under the guidance of a Le Mans winner when he takes up his Porsche Scholarship this season.
The 17-year-old Dromore High School student has chosen to join the JTR team for the 2018 British Porsche Carrera Cup series.
Harper was still only 16 and too young to hold a driving licence when he was picked by Porsche GB to succeed reigning British champion and fellow Ulsterman Charlie Eastwood as the recipient of the lucrative two-year scholarship.
But he has elected not to follow Eastwood into the championship winning Red Line Racing team and instead has joined JTR which is run by Joe Tandy, brother of Porsche factory driver Nick.
JTR only entered the Carrera Cup series last season and finished runners-up in the teams championship with 21 podium finishes.
"We talked to a number of teams over the winter, but we had some really positive discussions with JTR and it felt like the right team for us," explained Harper.
"Working alongside someone of the calibre of Nick Tandy is a huge opportunity for me. Hopefully with the support of Nick and the JTR team, we can build on their impressive 2017 season."
Tandy, who won the 2015 Le Mans 24-Hour race with Porsche, said: "As a race team we are always on the lookout for new talent. Daniel was selected as the new Porsche junior driver because he showed the best ability and potential to be a future champion, so naturally JTR approached him with a view to joining our team.
"I personally really like the idea of coaching and mentoring another young driver, who has a view to becoming a professional in the future. Who knows, we could be sharing a factory car and flights around the world together in the future."
Harper steps up to the Porsche series after finishing runner-up in the UK Ginetta Junior championship in 2017. His selection for the two-year, £160,000 scholarship was a major surprise, the Hillsborough teenager far and away the youngest driver to be selected by Porsche.
But he was highly recommended by Eastwood, who made the most of the scholarship opportunity to snatch the 2017 Cup crown in the final round.
Harper expects to start testing with his new team in the next month before the first race at Brands Hatch in April.
The Carrera Cup is one of the main supporting categories to the British Touring Car Championship in which Colin Turkington has confirmed he will again lead the West Surrey Racing BMW team.
The two-time champion, who finished runner-up last season, will link up again with Andrew Jordan, with Rob Collard likely to remain in the WSR team too.
Turkington lost out in the last race of the season to Ash Sutton who has confirmed he will be staying with the BMR Subaru team, as will Jason Plato.
The biggest surprise so far in the BTCC line-up is the departure of Gordon Sheddon from Team Dynamics Honda. The Scot, a three times champion, has spent his entire 12-year touring car career with the west midlands team, winning 48 times.
Sheddon is not expected to continue in the championship with another team but may switch to the International TCR series.