Daniel Harper and his BMW Junior Team partners Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen recorded a remarkable second consecutive victory in the Nürburgring Endurance Series with a fantastic performance this past weekend (10/11 July).
The BMW Junior Team made history a fortnight ago by becoming the youngest ever race-winners in the history of the championship, and their sensational run continued in the annual double-header weekend of the season.
Both days ran to the traditional NES schedule with a 90 minute qualifying session followed by a four hour race. Feeling right at home behind the wheel of their Team RMG run BMW M6 GT3, Harper was right on the pace from the off in the opening qualifying on Saturday.
Unfortunately the Northern Irishman’s best lap was to be void by a code 60 caution period at one section of the 15 mile Nordschleife circuit, however his team-mates went on to post impressive lap times to eventually secure the team fifth on the grid for race one that afternoon.
Hesse started behind the wheel and made some fantastic early progress to rise to second in the opening few corners. The German racer settled down for the first hour of the race and eventually took the race lead as different pitstop strategies started to unfold. Harper was next in the hotseat and the BRDC SuperStar member produced a brilliant performance. Emerging from the pits in third, he hunted down and overtook a leading rival in the Falken Motorsports Porsche, before pulling clear in second place. An impressively fast and consistent stint ensured he handed over the car to Verhagen in a good position to challenge for the victory. The American did exactly that, with a great drive ensuring he took the chequered flag over a minute clear of the competition for a memorable victory. Unfortunately it would prove to be a weekend of extreme highs and lows for the 20 year old talent, as Sunday ended in heart-breaking fashion. In qualifying, the team were lying fifth on the timesheets and Harper was on a prospective pole position lap when he experienced an unfortunate incident.
Fortunately Harper was okay, however there was heavy damage to the car from the 211kph impact. With a short turnaround time to the race start, it wasn’t possible for it to be repaired in time, so the team sadly had to sit on the sidelines.
Daniel Harper: “The highs and lows of motorsport! It’s hard not to feel absolutely gutted about the incident on Sunday, but we’ve got to focus on a sensational result on Saturday. To win two races in a row in this ultra-competitive championship is a huge achievement for us. The car is in a perfect window at the moment thanks to Team RMG, so we can jump in and feel confident to push from lap one of testing. It’s an absolute pleasure to drive each and every lap in it, so a huge thank you to the team for all their hard work. We feel like we’ve showed again that we are a strong all-round team. We’ve all made further improvements from our win last time out and we’ll do so again before the next one. Personally, Sunday was a huge learning curve for me and a reminder that the Nordschleife bites hard!”
The 2021 Nürburgring Endurance Series has three events remaining, with there now being a two month gap until a six hour race on Saturday 11th September.
Images from BMW Motorsport