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Young guns Daniel Harper and Josh McErlean challenging for honours in British eSports Championships

 

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Multi talented: Daniel Harper

Multi talented: Daniel Harper

Josh McErlean

Josh McErlean

Multi talented: Daniel Harper

They may be champing at the bit to get back into action for real but in the meantime two of Ulster's brightest young guns are going great guns in virtual British championships.

Daniel Harper (18) is a front-running contender in the British Racing Drivers' Club's eSports Championship which has its second round tonight and Josh McErlean holds second place in the eBritish Rally Championship which resumes on Monday with round two.

Harper, back home in Hillsborough after his two-year scholarship with the BMW Junior team was suspended due to the coronavirus, made an impressive start to the Formula Three-based BRDC series at Silverstone last week, taking a fighting third place behind Autosport Young Driver of the Year Jonathan Hoggard and Oliver Rowland in a 40-strong line-up.

Former British Porsche Carrera Cup champion Harper also won his personal head-to-head duel with his mentor, Aston Martin endurance racer Charlie Eastwood, who got caught up in a multi-car melee early in the race but fought back to claim eighth place.

Tonight (7pm) they are back in action with the venue switching to Monza, the Italian Grand Prix circuit, which Harper describes as one of his favourites - just 17, he qualified on pole position for the Carrera Cup round there in 2018.

McErlean, meanwhile, is preparing for the second round of the invitational eBritish Rally Championship which moves from Wales to Spain starting from Monday. The British Junior champion and Billy Coleman Award winner from Kilrea had big plans in place to step up to the top division of the real BRC in an R5 Hyundai but the series is in abeyance for the time being.

McErlean has proved equally adept at simulator rallying, taking on the Welsh stages in round one and splitting two locals, James Morgan and reigning British champion Matt Edwards, at the top of the leaderboard. Just nine seconds covered the top three places. Next week the action switches to asphalt for the Spanish round before two more rallies in Germany and Scotland.

Motorsport Ireland has confirmed the Irish Forestry Championship has joined the Tarmac Championship and the National Rally Championship in being called off for the year.

Motorsport UK, which covers Northern Ireland, has also said rallying will not be allowed to resume for the foreseeable future although it hoped racing may start again in July.

Belfast Telegraph