BMW Junior Team ace Daniel Harper produced eye-catching pace on his long-awaited GT3 category debut on Saturday as he recorded an impressive top ten finish in the second event of the 2021 Nürburgring Endurance Series.
After the opening round of the season was cancelled due to snowfall last month, Harper and his team-mates Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen finally got their first opportunity to race on the world-famous 14 mile Nürburgring Nordschleife in their BMW M6 GT3.
Harper continued his learning process with his new car during open practice on Friday, getting more crucial mileage under his belt across two runs. Feeling more comfortable in the car during each lap, the Northern Irishman eyed further progress in qualifying the next day.
Unfortunately a technical issue meant the team lost the majority of the session though, however BMW factory driver Augusto Farfus, drafted in to support the BMW Junior Team members in their GT3 development, showed his class with a single lap flyer to secure 10th on the grid.
The Brazilian ace went on to start the four-hour race behind the wheel and after an action-packed opening few laps, he handed over the car to Harper in 11th place. With the team on a different pitstop strategy to their rivals, the 20 year old was suddenly elevated to 2nd overall.
Harper went on to mount a challenge for the provisional race lead, impressively recording his first sub-8 minute lap of the Nordschleife as he chased the leader. While traffic ultimately cost him time in his pursuit, he went on to remain second through to the end of his stint.
Hesse and Verhagen continued the team’s challenge in their ‘blue rocket’ M6 GT3 and once all the pitstops were completed, the latter took the car to the chequered flag as the highest placed BMW finisher in eighth position overall.
Daniel Harper: “I’m super happy with the result. After a few problems with the car on Friday and Saturday, it was a good comeback from the whole team to complete the race as the quickest BMW out there and record a competitive top ten finish. While the pitstop cycles played into my favour a bit, it was still a great feeling to be up there battling for the race lead at one stage. To have recorded my quickest lap on the Nordschleife so far is a bonus and I’ll be pushing to bring that benchmark down. BMW Team RMG and my team-mates did a fantastic job and we’re pretty pleased to have shown in our first race in the GT3 that we’re capable of running towards the front. We’re under no illusions that we still have a lot more progress to make though and we’re ready for the next race.”
The next round of the Nürburgring Endurance Series is another four-hour race scheduled to take place on Saturday 1st May.
Images from BMW Motorsport.