Daniel Harper is left with ‘unfinished business’ in the ADAC TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Nürburgring after unfortunately encountering early disappointment with the BMW Junior Team in the 50th anniversary running of the prestigious race (26-29 May).
Harper and team-mates Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen headed into the race as one of the favourites to challenge for victory following a tremendous recent run of form on the Nordschleife in their Team RMG prepared BMW M4 GT3.
Having already qualified for the all-important top qualifying shootout on Friday evening courtesy of their race win on the ‘qualifiers’ weekend earlier in the month, the trio focused on fine-tuning the car’s set-up across three qualifying sessions on Thursday and Friday morning.
Getting a feel for the track again and traffic management with the massive 138 car entry, the Northern Irishman also got the chance to get some crucial night driving experience under his belt as he soaked up the sights and sounds of packed campsites and spectator banks around the track.
Harper was chosen to take the reins for the shootout, with the high pressure scenario seeing him given just two flying laps to secure the final starting position. A great performance saw him post the sixth fastest time, putting them right in the mix at the front of the grid for the race start.
Verhagen kicked off proceedings behind the wheel and produced a truly sensational start, storming into third place through the opening couple of corners. While he slipped back to fourth soon after, he went on to overtake the pole-sitting Ferrari for third at the half hour mark.
The American handed over the car over to Harper at the end of the first hour, with the BRDC member showing his pace with the fastest lap of the race at the time. Unfortunately their front-running charge hit trouble soon after, as he made contact with a slower car.
Heavy damage to the front left of the BMW forced him into the pitlane, with a fantastic job by the team getting them back on track. With half an hour lost though, they knew their hopes of challenging for silverware had come to an end.
From then on, Harper and his team-mates focused on using the remainder of the race as a learning experience for future endurance races. A great set-up on the car allowed them to push on into the night, working their way up the leaderboard.
Harper put together an impressive double stint in the early hours of the morning, once again setting a new fastest lap of the race as he showed the huge potential in the BMW. Hesse was next in and unfortunately suffered an incident, which ended their race with ten hours still on the clock.
Daniel Harper: “Unfortunately it just wasn’t meant to be this year. The Nürburgring 24 Hours is one of the toughest races in global motorsport and the Nordschleife takes no prisoners. We encountered that and will learn from the experience to be better drivers going forward.
“It was both the 50th anniversary of the race and BMW M, so it was an honour to represent them in such an iconic event alongside Max and Neil. While we didn’t get the ultimate result hoped, it was still a memorable week racing in front of the huge, passionate Nürburgring fanbase.
“Team RMG once again gave us a fantastic car to race with and I’m pleased I could get us a good starting position from the qualifying shootout. Max did a great job at the start of the race to gain us some places and I wish I could have built on that, but a small mistake in traffic cost us a lot.
“The team did a brilliant job to get us back on track quickly and the car was hooked up from there. Our pace was fantastic through the night, and it was great to get that experience under my belt for future 24 hour races.
“Sadly our race ultimately came to an end early, but the most important thing was that Max walked away unscathed. We’ll be taking the positives from the event and look to come back stronger for Paul Ricard this weekend.”
Harper and his BMW Junior Team colleagues will be determined to bounce back from their Nürburgring disappointment this coming weekend (04/05 June) as they return to GT World Challenge Europe action at Paul Ricard in France with Team ROWE Racing.
Source. Simon Paice Media/Photo. BMW
No comments yet.