King claims the crown
Porsche Great Britain – Motorsport: At the start of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB season, he’d never raced a Porsche 911 before – but by the end of it, the 19-year-old Porsche GB Junior had taken 12 wins and been crowned champion. His name? Harry King.
If the form guide from the first half of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB season promised anything for the second, it was the continued rise of Porsche GB 2020/2021 Junior Harry King (Team Parker Racing). The 19-year-old sensation arrived at Thruxton with six wins from eight races under his belt, and took his fifth consecutive pole. However, a reminder of just how quickly things can change in motorsport was waiting for the Junior come Sunday.
Two laps from the end of Round Nine, King suffered a puncture, which forced his retirement from the lead and allowed Will Martin (Richardson Racing) to win. King’s championship lead over 2014 champion Josh Webster (Team Parker Racing) was reduced to just 10 points as a result.
A storming recovery drive from King was the order of the day for Round 10. Everything was going to plan as the Junior drove from seventh on the grid to first in just 14 laps, but then he suffered yet another puncture and yet another retirement. Leaving Thruxton with two non-finishes, King’s championship advantage over rival Webster was reduced to just seven points.
The measure of a truly great driver is how they bounce back from adversity. A determined King arrived at Silverstone for Rounds 11 and 12 on the short National circuit. King topped his 20 rivals in qualifying, led into the first corner of the weekend’s first race, pacing himself beautifully and successfully managing a Safety Car period to take victory.
Starting fifth in the second race following the reverse grid draw, the Junior systematically worked his way past those ahead to clinch his eighth win of the season. It was the third occasion on which he had taken both races during a weekend – a rarity in the era of reverse-grid races.
The penultimate race weekend of 2020 took place at Snetterton in October. King took his seventh consecutive pole position and, in a wet race, fought off a challenge at the start of Round 13 from rookie Matthew Graham (Redline Racing) to take his ninth win of the season. Webster kept his title hopes alive with a second-place finish, while the promising Graham secured his fourth podium result of 2020.
In dry conditions, Martin’s clean getaway from a reverse-grid pole position in Round 14 did little to phase King, who started fourth. He was quickly up to third, then as early as the second lap he mounted a successful pass on Webster for second, before passing Martin to take the lead – gaining two places in two corners. King’s 10th win of the season saw him secure the Pro category championship, and become the first Porsche GB Junior to claim the title in their first year of the programme since Webster in 2014.
Joining the celebrations was Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing), as his result at Snetterton was enough to see him crowned Am category champion for the second year in succession.
The championship returned to Brands Hatch in Kent for its season finale, this time with racing taking place on the short and challenging Indy circuit. Rookie Ryan Ratcliffe (Team Parker Racing) entered the weekend with a slim mathematical chance of Pro-Am title glory over team-mate Esmee Hawkey, but the closer fight was for Rookie honours. Four drivers stood a chance of winning the title of top Rookie and taking the £32,000 prize fund: Graham, Lorcan Hanafin (JTR), Scott McKenna (Redline Racing) and Martin.
King missed out on a clean sweep of pole positions in 2020 by a scant 0.002-second margin in qualifying, but the Junior was leading the weekend’s first (wet) race by the exit of the second corner. When the flying Graham and McKenna made contact behind in the closing stages, it cemented King’s 11th win of the season. Ratcliffe crossed the line to record his fifth Pro-Am category win of the season, but second place in the category gave Hawkey enough points to secure the Pro-Am category title in her third year of Porsche Carrera Cup GB.
With dry conditions for the final race of 2020, it took just 12 short laps for King to complete his charge to the race lead from fifth on the grid and claim his 12th win of the season – just one shy of the ultimate record of 13, which was set before the introduction of a reverse grid for the weekend’s second race. Graham’s result was enough to secure him the sought-after Rookie title and its generous prize pot – one of the largest in motorsport, marking him out as one to watch for the future.
Christophorus caught up with King straight after the Brands Hatch finale to reflect on his incredible debut season with Porsche.
‘My first season as a Porsche GB Junior has been very memorable. It’s been an honour to represent Porsche – without the support from Porsche I wouldn’t have been on the grid this year. What we’ve achieved with Team Parker Racing has been something special. To take our first win at the opening weekend was a real surprise. The wins kept coming after that – double victory at the following weekend at Brands Hatch, and then at Oulton Park too...
‘I’ve learnt a huge amount this season. I came into the championship with only knowledge of front-engined racing cars. With the engine in the 911 at the rear, things are reversed – that was difficult to get my head around. And I’ve had to learn how to manage the tyres in a different way, too. The Thruxton weekend was a reality check for me – after that I worked hard with the Porsche and Michelin engineers to come back stronger than ever.’
In his first year as a Porsche GB Junior, King has enjoyed becoming part of the Porsche family. He represented Porsche at Goodwood SpeedWeek in October, finishing in the top six at the event’s Shootout Final.
‘Goodwood SpeedWeek was brilliant – it was a pleasure to represent Porsche. I’d never been to Goodwood before so I didn’t know what to expect. The place is unique. The circuit is very old-school with big kerbs and very little run-off, but I felt comfortable in the car. I didn’t realise just how quick the circuit is until I watched my Shootout on television after the event!’
‘I met Porsche Formula E drivers André Lotterer and Neel Jani at Goodwood – to be introduced to them and share the same track was amazing. I was in a Porsche 911, as was Neel. André was driving a Porsche Taycan. I felt like a real part of the Porsche family. That’s what dreams are made of at 19 years of age. I’ve had a fantastic year and I can’t wait for next season.’