The BMW Junior Team has kicked off its 2021 season on the Nordschleife when Dan Harper (GBR), Max Hesse (GER) and Neil Verhagen (USA) contested their first race in the BMW M6 GT3 within the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS). The highlight of the season is the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring (GER) at the start of June, for which the BMW Junior Team is already preparing meticulously. BMW works driver Augusto Farfus (BRA) is supporting the young trio with his wealth of experience. This season, BMW Team RMG is responsible for the team’s outings.
After an impressive 2020 season, in which Harper, Hesse and Verhagen enjoyed great success in the BMW M4 GT4, including a class victory at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, the three youngsters have stepped up to the GT3 category for their second year of training. The opening round of the season on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, which was scheduled for the end of March, was cancelled due to snow. However, the BMW Junior Team was able to contest its first race in the BMW M6 GT3 at round two of the NLS. At the end of the four-hour race, the BMW Junior Team ended its GT3 debut in an excellent eighth place overall.
Their mentor, Jochen Neerpasch, was full of praise afterwards. “For their first race, that was a very good success,” said Neerpasch. “You have to bear in mind that we have a completely new team. BMW Team RMG is working with the BMW M6 GT3 for the first time and we have three drivers who are behind the wheel of this fast car for the first time. They did very, very well against international opposition here on the Nordschleife.”
“We are very happy with the result. It was a good first step,” said Hesse in summary. “The BMW M6 GT3 is great fun to drive. Every lap is cool. The team did a fantastic job. The set-up was just right, which allowed us to feel very comfortable in the car. We just need more laps under our belt, in order to get used to everything and come to terms with the traffic. We should be ready then.”
The first race with the BMW M6 GT3 on the Nordschleife was fantastic,” Verhagen added. “I’d like to say a big thank you to BMW Team RMG for all the hard work they put in across the whole weekend. As I come from a single-seater background, I am a little bit familiar with the amount of grip and the forces at play in the car. The BMW M6 GT3 feels superb on the Nordschleife. We will now push hard to improve and get some top results.”
“It was a solid race, for the team and us three Juniors,” said Harper. “It was our first race with the team and our first race with the BMW M6 GT3. We finished eighth and set fast lap times. I am really getting used to the car. It is totally different to the cars I had driven before. The step up from GT4 was a really big one, and not just in terms of the car. The standard of opposition we are racing against in the GT3 category is also very high. These guys are so quick, and it really helps to have Augusto as your team-mate. We are learning an awful lot from him.”
Farfus is enjoying working with the BMW Junior Team. “They are naturally fast and talented so it is not like I have to teach them how to drive the car,” the experienced Nordschleife driver explained. “It is more about fine-tuning performance and optimising their skills to suit the unique and very specific demands of the Nordschleife. They are doing a fantastic job and have great speed. I am helping them to stay calm, cope with traffic, and understand the new car. I am very impressed by what I have seen so far.”
After the third round of the NLS on 1st May, the BMW Junior Team competes in the qualifying race for the Nürburgring 24 Hours on 8th and 9th May. The 49th edition of the 24-hour race on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife takes place on 5th and 6th June.