A champion year for local karting star Daniel

For 13 year old Daniel Harper from Anahilt, 2014 marked the second year of extraordinary motorsport success for the Dromore High School pupil.

In 2013 he scored unique doubles in winning both Quad and Kart Ulster championships, but this year the emphasis was on the karts, and what a year it proved to be.

With backing from Team Kart Shop boss, Andrew Lyons, Daniel and his Tonykart machine took on the best in Ireland, winning again the Northern Ireland Karting Association (NIKA) Championship, but also the Motorsport Ireland Irish Kart Championship, the Champion of Champions meeting, the Irish Kart Grand Prix and the Irish Open plate.

It was no wonder at the NIKA prize-giving that British Touring Car Champion Colin Turkington presented him with the Northern Ireland Driver of the Year Award.

“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 this season was stepping into the Motorsport Ireland series for the first time up against new opposition and having to learn new tracks.

“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.

“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 from 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.

It was a performance recognised at the prize-giving in Cork where Daniel was presented with the Irish Junior Driver of the Year award.

For 2015 his motorsport plans look like taking in a foray 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.

“I can’t wait to next season, but this season was amazing and I would to thank everyone who helped including my mum and dad, my grand-parents and Andrew Lyons.”

It looks set to be an interesting year ahead, and with Daniel breaking so many motorsport records already, this is one teenager that is worth watching.