Daniel Harper has described the 2021 season as the “best of my career so far” after bringing a brilliant campaign in the Nürburgring Endurance Series with the BMW Junior Team to a close on Saturday (09 October).
While the final event of the season would prove to be a frustrating one, with an early incident with a backmarker ending their race within just five laps, it takes nothing away from a superb year in which Harper and team-mates Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen stepped on the NES podium on four occasions.
After a learning season in BMW M240i and M4 GT4 machinery last year, the talented trio stepped up to pilot a BMW M6 GT3 this season and race in the headline SP9 Pro category of the NES, a championship devoted solely to competing on the world-famous Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Quickly getting to grips with the new car, Harper went on to show brilliant personal progression over the course of the campaign. The Northern Irishman made his mark on multiple occasions, producing eye-catching qualifying pace and fast, consistent race stints on the ultra-challenging 15 mile circuit.
After the opening round was cancelled due to snow, the BMW Junior Team showcased themselves as a competitive force in the next two races. Their breakthrough moment came with a stunning overall victory in round four.
They duly followed that up with another brilliant race win next time out, which formed part of a run of four podium finishes in five races. Alongside this, they enjoyed a positive showing in the showpiece Nürburgring 24 Hours race.
Their successes meant they headed into the season finale right in title contention and although their final race retirement ended those hopes, they have finished the campaign as runners up in the overall SP9 Pro drivers’ championship, the NES Speed Trophy and the NIMEX Team Trophy.
Daniel Harper: “While I’m naturally disappointed with how the final race went as that’s not how we wanted to end our season, it’s still been a truly fantastic season of racing competing with the BMW Junior Team and winning races on the hardest circuit in the world. Considering it was our first season racing in GT3 for both us as drivers and for Team RMG, it’s incredible to come away with two race wins, four podium finishes and to have been fighting for the championship at the last meeting of the year.
“We’ve certainly had to learn the hard way at points this year, but we feel that’s helped us learn faster and be ready for the next challenge when it came. While we had some lows, the highs have certainly made up for them and there really is no better feeling than standing on the top step of the Nürburgring podium.
“From a personal perspective, this has been the best season of my career so far in terms of the progress and development I’ve made as a driver. I believe I’m improved in all areas of my driving and I’m happy with the impact I’ve been able to make. Thank you so much to BMW Motorsport for this opportunity. I’ve loved every second of being in the BMW Junior Team, working alongside Max, Neil, Augusto Farfus, our mentor Jochen Neerpasch and the whole BMW family. Thank you also to Team RMG for their fantastic work all year. Let’s see what 2022 brings.”