Dan Harper cites lack of pre-season testing behind poor British GT Championship defence

‘Coming in with no preparation I knew it was always going to be tricky’

Dan Harper
Dan Harper had little pre-season preparation (SRO / JEP)

DAN Harper has blamed the “disappointing” start to the defence of his British GT Championship GT4 title on a lack of pre-season testing with Michael Johnston.

The new team-mates completed Easter Monday’s double-header at a weather-affected Oulton Park ninth overall in race one and thirteenth in the afternoon sprint in their Century Motorsport-run BMW M4 GT3.

A late change of plans for Chris Salkeld – Johnston’s original co-driver for the 2024 campaign – meant he had to step aside, with team boss Nathan Freke picking up the phone and offering the seat to a surprised Harper.

Despite making a positive impression in free practice, it soon became clear during Easter Saturday’s qualifying session the young duo would struggle to challenge the leading GT4 crews for Monday’s opening contest.

Played out in the wet, Johnston displayed great composure and held a solid sixth place before deciding to pit during a full course yellow period and handover to Harper. Unfortunately, in an effort to hold off two cars behind him, Harper made an uncharacteristic mistake at the high-speed Druids corner and ended up on the grass, losing three places and finishing back in ninth.

The duo fared worse in the second 60-minute race, with the turning point coming as Harper lost ground in a congested pitlane. Johnston did manage to claw back two places when he took the wheel to sit thirteenth but further progress was stymied by a full course yellow that remained in force until the chequered flag came out.

“It has been a pretty difficult weekend unfortunately,” said Harper, who was in Germany on Tuesday testing with Rowe Racing ahead of this weekend’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Cup opener in France.

“Coming in with no preparation I knew it was always going to be tricky; it was a case of building that relationship with Michael as quickly as possible, and trying to maximise the weekend as best we could.

“Sadly, we just didn’t have the ultimate pace in the dry or wet conditions to be challenging at the front of the field, whilst a few things went against us in the races as well. From a personal perspective, I am disappointed with my performance – and also the mistakes that I made,” continued the 23-year-old.

“There are some positives to take away from the weekend, though, in particular how well Michael drove. He did a brilliant job in all weather conditions and will only get faster as the season goes on, so we are going to put this weekend behind us and focus on coming back stronger at the Silverstone 500 at the end of the month.”