In beautiful late summer weather, the BMW Junior Team finished round eight of the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife (GER) on the podium. After four hours of racing, Neil Verhagen (USA), Dan Harper (GBR) and Max Hesse (GER) crossed the finish line in third place in the # 44 BMW M6 GT3. In the end, the trio was only 14 hundredths of a second short of second place. The new BMW M4 GT3 took the chequered flag in fifth place. The #55 car was driven by Philipp Eng (AUT) and Augusto Farfus (BRA).
In qualifying on Saturday morning, that had to be shortened to 45 minutes due to fog, the BMW Juniors secured third on the grid. The start of the race was postponed by half an hour to 12:30. In the turmoil of the first corners the #44 BMW M6 GT3 initially fell back to sixth place, but Verhagen, Harper and Hesse quickly worked their way back towards the front. In the exciting final stages, Hesse put the second placed Audi in front of him under massive pressure, but he couldn’t find the opportunity to overtake, and this was also due to Code 60 zones. After four hours, the #44 BMW M6 GT3 crossed the line in third. After the wins in races four and five and second place in round seven, this was the next podium success for the BMW Junior Team.
The #55 BMW M4 GT3 once again took part out of competition in the prototype class SP-X. Because of this, Eng and Farfus started the race behind the field of SP9 cars. In its second race the new car again ran without any problems and improved position by position. After four hours of racing, Farfus took the flag in fifth place. The gap to the front was only 86 seconds.
Walkenhorst Motorsport finished third in the SP9 Am class with the #36 BMW. The car was driven by Henry Walkenhorst, Friedrich von Bohlen and Jörg Breuer (all GER). The team’s #34 BMW M6 GT3, with David Pittard (GBR), Ben Tuck (GBR) and Christian Krognes (NOR) at the wheel, was in second place after a fantastic start. Pittard also set a new NLS lap record in 7:53.202 minutes. But then, the #34 fell far back due to a damaged tyre.
In the different classes, the BMW M Motorsport teams claimed a total of four class wins. The season finale of the 2021 Nürburgring Endurance Series will be held in two weeks’ time, on 9th October.
Reactions after round eight of the 2021 NLS.
Mike Krack, Leiter BMW M Motorsport: “It has been a great and for us an entirely positive day of racing in the Eifel mountains. It started with the fact that spectators were again allowed onto the starting grid. That made the atmosphere very special. The race itself once again went smoothly. Our BMW Juniors Neil, Dan and Max put in another great performance, and Max’s fight for second place in the final laps was really breathtaking. It didn’t quite work out, but third place is another great result. Also Philipp’s and Augusto’s race in the new BMW M4 GT3 was fantastic. Both once again confirmed that the handling and performance of the new car are excellent. The BMW M4 GT3 is fast and easy to drive. Overall, the race went trouble-free for us from A to Z. I would like to thank the entire development team, BMW Team RMG, the drivers and everyone involved in the project for their great work.”
Max Hesse, #44 BMW M6 GT3, BMW Junior Team: “We gave our everything and a couple of times it could have nearly worked out. But in the end, the Audi had a bit more top speed than us, and exiting the Code 60 zone at the Döttinger Höhe there was no chance. And we all know: to overtake on the Nordschleife is not the easiest task. But it is great to be on the podium again. We also collected good points for the championship – the fight is on!”
Neil Verhagen, #44 BMW M6 GT3, BMW Junior Team: “We are happy with another podium. We have now been on the podium regularly after the 24-hour race. This is good; it shows our consistency and how we have been improving since the beginning of the year. A big thank you to BMW M Motorsport, BMW Team RMG and Shell for continuing to improve. At the end of the race it was difficult to overtake the Audi. We were able to catch up quite quickly, but unfortunately it was very difficult to find a way around. Overall, again it has definitely been a very solid weekend. It will be an eventful last race. Looking at the championship, it is going to be quite close. I am looking forward to it!“
Dan Harper, #44 BMW M6 GT3, BMW Junior Team: “The final laps have been very intense to watch from the pit box. It was a really great fight, even if it did not quite work out for us. Unfortunately a small contact when I was in the car cost us some time today, but we learn from it and are still happy to be on the podium.”
Philipp Eng, #55 BMW M4 GT3: “Again, every single lap in the BMW M4 GT3 was just a dream. It is so much fun to drive this car. We have been very consistent, the car handles the tyres well and is very good to drive, especially in traffic. Once again, it was great team work and I think we have a very strong package in the BMW M4 GT3. I am already looking forward to the next tasks with the car, and especially to next year when it will start in its first real racing season. Everyone at BMW M Motorsport has done an outstanding job. The development work was intensive, the right decisions have been made, and now we have a product that just works superbly and which you climb in and feel comfortable straight away.”
Augusto Farfus, #55 BMW M4 GT3: “It was a great race. We managed to race the car close to the leaders. I think today we have seen that the car is very competitive and I think we can all be proud of what we have achieved. P5 today was a great achievement and somehow it feels like a little victory for us. It makes us confident that next year we can fight for proper victories. Now we focus on the next steps and thanks again to BMW M Motorsport for this opportunity to drive the car. It is real fun, and it is great to be behind the wheel.”