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Harper and BMW Junior Team Charge to Top Ten GT Finish at Hockenheim

Daniel Harper and the BMW Junior Team impressively rose 13 places from their grid position to record a hard-fought top ten finish in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup at Hockenheim (03-04 September).

Harper Five weeks on from recording a brilliant fifth place finish in the 24 hours of Spa, Harper and team-mates Neil Verhagen and Max Hesse returned to action at the world-famous Hockenheim circuit, the former home of the Formula 1 German Grand Prix.

While his team-mates had raced at the circuit before, it was Harper’s first time tackling the 2.84-mile circuit in testing on Thursday. After that dry running, he was thrown a curveball when the weather changed and torrential rain for free practice on Saturday morning. The Northern Irishman would enjoy his first wet running since the 2020 Nürburgring 24 Hours, before the weather improved back to dry conditions for the remainder of the weekend, including the all-important qualifying sessions.

Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS – 4. Event, Hockenheim 2022 – Foto: Gruppe C Photography

Pushing hard in their ROWE Racing prepared BMW M4 GT3, the combined efforts of Harper, Hesse and Verhagen across their individual qualifying runs meant that they would start Sunday’s three-hour races from 22nd on the mammoth 49 car grid.
Verhagen started the race behind the wheel and gained three places on the opening lap before the racing was paused by a lengthy safety car period. When action resumed, he made more immediate progress and moved up to 14th position heading into the first pitstop window.
It was Harper who took control of the BMW in an improved 13th place. Unfortunately, it proved to be a subdued stint for the BRDC SuperStar with the field having spread out for the middle portion of the race, however he pushed on with fast, consistent lap times to stay on the fringes of the top ten. Hesse settled in the cockpit for the final 50 minutes of the race, a portion of which was neutralised by another safety car period. Moving up to 12th soon after the restart, he then capitalised on some issues for other cars to ultimately rise to ninth place for the chequered flag.

Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS – 4. Event, Hockenheim 2022 – Foto: Gruppe C Photography

Daniel Harper: “After our qualifying result, to battle through the field to a top ten finish is an extremely satisfying result for us. It was the first ever outing at Hockenheim for the BMW M4 GT3 and unfortunately it quickly proved apparent that it wasn’t the strongest circuit for the car. We kept pushing on though and working with the great team at ROWE Racing, we made as much progress with the car as we could before the race, with the improvements made giving us a fighting chance of making progress across the three hours. I’m pleased that we were able to do that and come through the field to record another top ten result. We maximised the package we had for the weekend and scored a couple of championship points, so we’ll take those positives away and work hard to come back stronger for the final round.”
 
The 2022 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup season concludes next month (30 September – 2nd October) with a three-hour race at the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona, Spain.

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