In October last year, Porsche Post went behind the scenes at Silverstone during final selection for the new Porsche GB Junior. The winner of this coveted support package was Harry King, then just 18 years old and a graduate of the same Ginetta series that had schooled previous Junior Dan Harper.
In the January 2020 issue we observed that “knowing that the last two GB Juniors have gone on to win the championship, King has big shoes to fill. But he can take courage from the fact that James McNaughton and his team seem to have a habit of making the right choice.”
Fast-forward 12 months and something pretty remarkable happened, even by the standards of Porsche GB’s talent scouts. In a condensed season that ran from August to November, King not only filled those shoes but also threatened to outgrow them. Across a 16-round season over eight weekends, King won an incredible 12 rounds and took seven of eight available pole positions, missing out on the last one by 0.002 seconds in the wet at Brands Hatch.
What makes this achievement all the more astonishing is that, for many of those races, he was obliged to come from behind because of the reverse grid format. And despite having wrapped up the championship early, he continued to push for wins, racking up 167 points in total – a full 46 clear of his nearest rival and teammate, the vastly more experienced Josh Webster.
A few weeks since taking the championship, King is able to reflect on what, by any measure, was a bravura performance from the off. “I knew I had a two-year programme and could take the first one almost as a learning year and really push for results in the second,” he says. “So the expectation to win wasn’t there immediately, but I knew as soon as we got to the first round, after the first qualifying session where we put it on pole, that we could be in for quite a special year.”
The regular use of “we” is a telling part of King’s character and approach to his sport. Seemingly free from ego, seldom a given in racing drivers, he is also the first to acknowledge that motor racing is still very much a team sport. “After Round 6 someone pointed out that I’d won five out of the six races. I honestly wasn’t counting and was caught off guard by
just how well I’d adapted to the car, which is a credit to Team Parker Racing and the technicians at Porsche Motorsport who give the Junior support.”
But there’s no denying that King himself has demonstrated a special talent that set him apart from his peers this year. When asked to pick a season highlight, his answer illustrates the point. “My most satisfying win came at Knockhill where we started race one from pole, led for seven laps and had an issue that caused a DNF, which meant starting the next race from 10th. Knockhill is probably one of the most difficult circuits to overtake on but I managed to come through and nick the lead on the final lap. I really had to work for it, which just made it that bit sweeter.”
Today the spotlight is inevitably on this precocious talent and insiders are likening King’s pace, commitment and determination to win rather than settle for points to Porsche works driver Nick Tandy. “That’s quite a compliment!’ King laughs. ‘I go out there and drive completely naturally. I don’t force any of it, so for people to compare me to someone like
Nick is very nice to hear. Of course, he came through Carrera Cup and to follow in his footsteps up the Porsche Pyramid is the ultimate goal for me.”
Such a performance on debut, and such glowing comparisons, inevitably threaten to heap the pressure on some young shoulders, but it seems King has that one resolved as well. “There’s always pressure in motorsport, no matter what you do, and at every level, and I feel like I deal with it quite well. That’s what they looked for at the Junior shootout – to be able to perform under what was immense pressure on the day. It’s always there in the back of your mind, but once the lights go out you completely forget.”
It’s interesting that King regards this remarkable degree of self-belief as entirely normal, further indication that he has a rare talent indeed. But with that comes a very level head and an impressively measured and professional outlook. Without his drive confirmed for next season at the time of writing, he remains both steadfast and confident. “I just want to retain the focus and approach in 2021 the exact same way I did last year, taking nothing for granted and not cutting any corners. I want to consistently better myself and not get complacent. I know how competitive the series is but with the knowledge and experience I have now I can make all the right decisions and completely perfect next year.” A worrying thought for his competition.
And what about the more distant future? Might those comparisons with Nick Tandy be all the more pertinent in a few years’ time? “I like GT cars,” King says simply. “I was watching Le Mans as a 10-year-old, staying up way beyond my bedtime watching the 911s and Corvettes battle it out and that’s always been what I wanted to do. I’d like to stay in a GT car with a 911 badge for as long as possible. And if the opportunity arises to move into whatever the equivalent of LMP1 is going forward, I’d love to be a part of it.”