KARTING: Daniel Harper reflects on stellar season and looks to 2015

Teenage prospect Daniel Harper
Teenage prospect Daniel Harper

Teenager Daniel Harper is celebrating a stunning year in karting.

The 13-year-old from Anahilt won the Quad and Ulster Karting Championships in 2013 and maintained his momentum this year, winning the Northern Ireland Karting Association (NIKA) Championship, the Motorsport Ireland Irish Kart Championship, the Champion of Champions meeting, the Irish Kart Grand Prix and the Irish Open plate as he focused on karts this season.

The Dromore High School pupil, backed by Team Kart Shop boss, Andrew Lyons, excelled in his Tonykart machine as he took on the best young talent in Ireland.

Harper was presented with the Northern Ireland Driver of the Year Award by British Touring Car Champion Colin Turkington at the NIKA awards.

“I was shocked to receive that award from Colin Turkington, but it was a great finish to a superb year, which I enjoyed so much,” he said.

“A big thanks to the NIKA committee for voting for me.”

The big challenge for Harper this season was stepping into the Motorsport Ireland series for the first time, facing new opposition and having to learn new circuits.

“We missed the first round in Cork, as we had not planned to contest this series, but Andrew Lyons encouraged us to try it so dad and I loaded up for White River Park, near Dundalk,” Harper said.

“I had a problem with my lap timer in practice, but I liked the track and the times were good. The weather changed from dry to wet for race day though, and I had to learn the track again in the wet, but it just all worked out and we took three straight wins that weekend.”

It was an epic performance by Daniel that somewhat shocked the opposition and it was no surprise that he went on to claim the title at his very first attempt before the last round had taken place.

Harper’s efforts were also recognised at a prize-giving ceremony in Cork, where he was presented with the Irish Junior Driver of the Year award.

For 2015, Harper is aiming to move into rallying. His older sister Alex has already competed this year in the Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland for 14 to 17 year olds, and Daniel looks set to make his debut in this exciting rally series next year.

“I can’t wait for next year, but this year was amazing and I would to thank everyone who helped including my mum and dad, my grandparents and Andrew Lyons,” Harper said.