The second year of training for the BMW Motorsport Juniors will be varied and intensive. Nico Menzel (GER) will compete in numerous domestic and international races in the BMW M6 GT3. Ricky Collard (GBR) will gather valuable experience on the Nürburgring Nordschleife (GER). The new member of the BMW Motorsport Junior Programme, Mikkel Jensen (DEN), will also compete in the BMW M6 GT3. He prevailed at the shootout in Miramas (FRA).
A special year with special challenges: While BMW talent promotion celebrates its 40thanniversary in 2017, the BMW Motorsport Juniors can look forward to a season with plenty of highlights. In his second year as a member of the Junior Programme, Nico Menzel will compete in the Blancpain Endurance Series behind the wheel of the Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3. This also includes the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps (BEL), where he will celebrate his debut. Menzel will also take part in the Nürburgring (GER) 24-hour race for Walkenhorst Motorsport. In preparation for this, he will compete in the first two races of the VLN Endurance Championship season in the BMW M6 GT3.
“What a great race schedule,” says Menzel. “I was able to get some initial experience with the BMW M6 GT3 at the end of last season and the start of this one, and now I can hardly wait to compete in both of the classic 24-hour races and complete a season in the top-level Blancpain Endurance Series. Many thanks to BMW Motorsport and Walkenhorst Motorsport for placing their trust in me. I’m really excited about this challenge.”
Ricky Collard already competed in the Bathurst 12 Hour in February with Menzel and Jörg Müller (GER), the mentor for the BMW Juniors in GT racing, and the Nürburgring Nordschleife is also set to become his second home in 2017. He is using the VLN season-opener to gain his licence for the “Green Hell”. He is also scheduled to compete in the BMW M4 GT4 at the 24-hour race in May. “I am really looking forward to gaining more experience on the legendary Nordschleife right at the start of the season,” says Collard. “I have always dreamed of starting the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring.”
The group of BMW Juniors is also growing: At the shootout for potential new Juniors in Miramas, Mikkel Jensen convinced those in charge of BMW Motorsport so effectively that they are confident enough to allow him to compete in the BMW M6 GT3 in his first year as a BMW Motorsport Junior. In the Blancpain Endurance Series, the 22-year-old Danish driver will co-drive with Menzel and the third driver, Christian Krognes (NOR), at Walkenhorst Motorsport. Jensen won the ADAC Formel Masters title in 2014 and has competed in the Formula 3 European Championship for the last two years. “I am proud of having made the leap to the BMW Motorsport Junior Programme,” says Jensen. “I managed very well with the new BMW M4 GT4 in the shootout. It is unbelievable to get the chance to gather experience in the BMW M6 GT3 right from the start.” In addition to Jensen, other candidates are currently also in the selection process for a place in the BMW Motorsport Junior Programme.
The BMW Motorsport Juniors will not only be competing in numerous races in 2017, but will also be actively involved in development of the new BMW M4 GT4. For example, Menzel tested the car in Miramas with Jörg Müller and Dirk Adorf (GER). Collard shared driving duties with Müller and Jens Klingmann (GER) when the BMW M4 GT4 celebrated its race debut in January at the Dubai 24 Hours (UAE).
“The BMW M4 GT4 is the perfect car for the BMW Motorsport Juniors, as it allows them to not only prove their talent but also develop it further,” says Adorf, mentor for the new Junior year groups. “Every year, we are impressed with just how quickly the young drivers get used to our race cars. Seeing how they make the step up to the BMW M6 GT3 just confirms the good work that we do in talent promotion.”
The BMW Motorsport Junior Programme was restructured in 2014 and BMW talent promotion went back to its roots in GT and touring car sport. The multi-level concept now ensures that the BMW Motorsport Juniors learn all they need for the top categories in GT racing. The BMW Motorsport Junior Programme runs for several years and has the long-term goal of training drivers for competition in GT and touring car sport, so that BMW Motorsport can call on international drivers with the benefit of in-house youth development training. Jesse Krohn proves that this concept is bearing fruit: In 2014, the first year of the new structure, the Finnish driver was named “BMW Motorsport Junior of the Year” and is now a fixture in the group of BMW drivers at international GT events.