At the start of October, BMW Junior Team completed its first season with a GT3 car on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife (GER) – and although a DNF in the final race prevented them from taking the title, it was still an extremely successful year for Dan Harper (GBR), Max Hesse (GER) and Neil Verhagen (USA). Two wins and four podiums in the BMW M6 GT3 earned them second place overall in the GT3 class and the NLS Speed Trophy. In November, BMW Junior Team heads to the USA, where they will attend both Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and the 24 Hours of Sebring. Hesse and Verhagen will even have the opportunity to take part in the Creventic 24H Series race in a BMW M4 GT3.
The rapid development of BMW Junior Team, which started in 2020 in the BMW M240i Racing and BMW M4 GT4 in the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS), continued seamlessly in 2021 with the BMW M6 GT3, run by BMW Team RMG. Victories in races four and five of the season on the Nordschleife, backed up by one second place and a third place in the second half of the season, are definitive proof that Harper, Hesse and Verhagen have established themselves among the top GT drivers. Within a short time, they have gone from promising, talented youngsters to proven winners. The next step for the BMW Junior Team in 2022 is the BMW M4 GT3. They will set their sights on overall victory at the Nürburgring 24 Hours with BMW Motorsport’s new GT3 flagship.
The team was given its first taste of the BMW M4 GT3 during tests. Hesse and Verhagen will now have the opportunity to contest their first race in this car in November. The whole BMW Junior Team first travels to Petit Le Mans, the final round of this season’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Road Atlanta, from where they head straight to the Creventic 24 Hours of Sebring. Bill Auberlen, Robby Foley and James Clay (all USA) will be at the wheel of a BMW M4 GT3 there. Alongside this trio, there are still two places available for drivers with a Silver racing licence. Hesse and Verhagen fall into this category. As Harper already possesses a Gold licence, he must wait for his first race outing. However, he will be involved in all the workflows at the circuit and will also complete a number of test laps, in order to familiarise himself with both the car and the track.
The BMW M8 GTE and BMW M6 GT3 bid farewell at Road Atlanta.
BMW Junior Team will witness the farewell appearances of the BMW M8 GTE and BMW M6 GT3 at the IMSA season finale at Road Atlanta. At the wheel of BMW Team RLL’s two BMW M8 GTEs will be John Edwards (USA), Jesse Krohn (FIN) and Augusto Farfus (BRA), and Connor De Phillippi (USA), Bruno Spengler (CAN) and Philipp Eng (AUT). Turner Motorsport will also run a BMW M6 GT3 in the GTD class.
Quotes from the BMW Junior Team on the 2021 season:
Jochen Neerpasch, mentor to the BMW Junior Team:
“BMW Junior Team has developed rapidly. From the BMW M240i Racing and the BMW M4 GT4 to the BMW M6 GT3, they have only ever needed a few races to achieve success. In my opinion, that can be traced back to our team building. As a team, they learn a huge amount from each other and thus develop faster than other racing drivers who are on their own. I am sure that the three of them are now capable of winning the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring.”
Stefan Reinhold, team principal BMW Team RMG:
“For us as a team from the Eifel region, it was obviously fantastic to finally go racing and taste success on the Nordschleife. In this regard, the season has been great. We saw at the 24-hour race that our young drivers can mix it with the best. After that, they have consistently been among the front-runners, and we have claimed our first victories. That makes us both happy and proud.”
Dan Harper on the NLS season:
“Fortunately, we have had more highs than lows this season. We could never have dreamed that we would still be in contention to win a title in the final race so we can take a lot of positives from the year. Our learning curve has been very steep and we have gained valuable experience, as drivers and a team. That will definitely make us stronger in the future.”
Max Hesse on the NLS season:
“We gained an awful lot of experience in the NLS season and have developed massively as racing drivers and a team. Second place in the Speed Trophy is a good result, even if it is obviously a shame that we lost the title due to a crash in the final race.”
Max Hesse on his start in Sebring:
“The start at Sebring is a superb opportunity for us. Personally, I have never raced in the USA, so to do that in the new BMW M4 GT3 and at such an iconic circuit is mega. Hopefully the weather will play ball and we will have our first full 24-hour race, after the race at the Nürburgring was cut short.”
Neil Verhagen on the NLS season:
“I think we can be very proud of what we achieved this season, despite the unfortunate way it ended. A huge thank you goes to BMW Team RMG for the fantastic work and support. We have all proved that we are not only young trainees driving anywhere, but that we belong among the best. It was not easy to learn everything in our first year in a GT3 race car, but Dan, Max and I helped each other a lot. We worked perfectly as the BMW Junior Team.”
Neil Verhagen on his start in Sebring:
“I cannot describe how excited I am about racing in my home country in the BMW M4 GT3. I have dreamed of racing in the USA again for years. My parents will be at Sebring to watch me drive the new BMW M4 GT3. That is going to be a very special experience for me.”