Daniel Harper has described his debut outing in the Nürburgring Endurance Series with the BMW Junior Team as an “invaluable learning experience,” despite an unfortunate technical problem meaning he wouldn’t contest the race itself.
The Northern Irishman was announced as a member of the coveted BMW Junior Team programme in January and was completing an extensive pre-season training schedule when the coronavirus pandemic led to the postponement of the programme in March.
At the start of June, Harper returned to Germany alongside his team-mates Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen, and last week he drove the world-famous 13 mile Nürburgring Nordschleife for the first time as he successfully completed his DMSB permit test for the track.
For the opening race event, Harper and his team-mates shared a BMW M240i Racing, the German manufacturer’s potent, entry-level car. This starts their progression up BMW’s ladder of cars, with races planned in an M4 GT4 and M6 GT3.
After completing free practice sessions on Friday around both the Grand Prix circuit and the Nordschleife, they tackled qualifying in mixed conditions on Saturday. While Harper ended up on the wrong tyres as the circuit dried, Verhagen was able to lap as the second quickest M240i on the grid.
Their challenge in the four hour race was unfortunately over within the first thirty minutes though, with a technical problem resulting in the car coming off track and touching the barrier. Hesse had started the race, with Harper due to take over for the second stint.
Daniel Harper: “Naturally it’s a shame how the race went in the end, but after months away from a race track, it felt so good to be back at a circuit, in the paddock and competing as part of the prestigious BMW Junior Team for the first time.
“While I’ve done hundreds of laps of the Nordschleife on a simulator, nothing prepares you for taking to the circuit for the first time. It was an absolute thrill and I feel I’ve made some progress, despite only getting in five laps during practice and qualifying.
“The last couple of weeks since returning to Germany have been a great experience, working closely with BMW and my team-mates. We’ve all learnt a lot in a short period of time and we’ll be working hard to make sure we are better for the next round.”
The Nürburgring Endurance Series continues in two weeks’ time over the weekend of 11/12 July, with the BMW Junior Team then contesting five further events in the championship and the ADAC TOTAL Nürburgring 24 Hours in September.
Source. Simon Paice Media/Photo BMW