Local karting star Daniel Harper recently showed off his impressive driving skills at the motorsport hotspot of Le Mans.
The 2015 Italian American Motor Engineering International Karting World Finals for kart racers from every corner of the globe using IAME X30 engines were held on the recently constructed new international karting track within the famous Le Mans racing complex located adjacent to the renowned Bugatti circuit.
To be eligible to compete at the meeting competitors had to have finished in the first three positions of their home X30 Championship. Three hundred and twenty six entries qualified to take part in the World finals, representing 38 countries.
Daniel, a 14 years old Dromore High School pupil from Annahilt, competed in the X30 junior category, a division of racing for drivers aged from 13 to 15. Ninety eight drivers were listed in this class; Daniel qualified twelfth quickest just 0.3 seconds behind the fastest qualifier.
Daniel’s first heat race provided an air of optimism in his pit when he finished third 0.196 seconds behind the winner.
The second heat again had Daniel starting from the outside position of the second row. Although Daniel coped admirable with this starting position in his first race the position was considered disadvantageous from the point of view that the first turn was a 180 degree turn to the left and competitors on the outside of the turn were squeezed out of position by the karts on the inside. The outcome was that Daniel occupied the twenty first position at the end of lap one having lost seventeen places. He accepted the task in hand and eventually finished twenty first on the road. This result was later revised to twentieth because of a track violation by a fellow competitor who had finished ahead of Daniel in the race.
Daniel’s third heat race was a much better result than his heat two race; falling back to tenth after the first turn but stoically driving to a fifth place finish making clinical overtaking maneuvers on laps 2, 3, 5 and on the final lap of the 7 lap race.
The fourth heat of the Junior X30 category showed how important it was to have an inside lane draw. Daniel again starting on the outside from the second row as he eventually finished 13th.
The final heat race for Daniel was a great result for the team as he finished second behind eventual winner David Malukas, who had won all his heats.
Warm up on the morning of the finals was something of a worrying time for Daniel’s team. Before the session was finished Daniel was in the back of an ambulance on his way to the circuit Medical Centre following a collision with a fellow competitor.
Fixing the kart was a relative easy task but patching the driver up was a more serious challenge. Thankfully Daniel was soon released by the Medics, prescribed pain killers for his ribs and an ice pack for his injured leg and given permission to carry on racing.
The outcomes from Daniel’s heat races classified him as 14th overall which again saw him starting on the outside of the circuit on row seven for the 11 lap pre-final. He was up to 11th before his equipment appeared to slow and he finished 23rd.
New tyres were fitted to the kart for the final and by this time Daniel was feeling a lot fitter after his morning accident.
He started 23rd but gained 11 places on the opening lap alone as he went on to finish the 18 lap final in seventh position from 98 entries in his first foray into international karting; a very creditable outcome, unfortunately just missing out on the podium ceremony by two positions.
Daniel used a Tony kart and an IAME X30 junior engine prepared by English tuner John Davis. Daniel’s crew chief was his father Stan and he was technically supported by Andrew Lyons of The Kart Shop based near Hillsborough.