BMW M Motorsport works driver Daniel Harper has enjoyed an encouraging start to his 2023 season on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, with a battling performance to fifth position in the opening round of the Nürburgring Endurance Series this past Saturday (18th March).
Kicking off his fourth consecutive year competing on one of the most famous circuits in the world, Harper would be continuing a successful partnership with BMW Team RMG, Neil Verhagen and Max Hesse that has previously produced three overall race wins on the Nordschleife.
Harper got back behind the wheel of their eye-catching Shell liveried BMW M4 GT3 for the first-time during pre-event testing on Friday, with the Northern Irishman immediately feeling at home again around the unique and challenging 15-mile circuit.
Promising pace would unfortunately go unrewarded in qualifying on Saturday morning however. A drying circuit after overnight rain meant the quickest times were set on the last laps of the session, with an unfortunate mistake by Verhagen costing him a final effort to leave them ninth on the grid.
Verhagen would go on to begin the four-hour race that afternoon and made some good early progress to seventh. He remained firmly in contention for the top six for the remainder of his double stint, before handing over the car to Harper at the halfway mark of the race.
The 22-year-old ace maintained their challenge with a run of consistent and fast laps across his stint, ensuring they remained seventh as he handed over to Hesse. The German racer went on to benefit from late drama for others to climb up to fifth place at the chequered flag, a result that fills the team with confidence heading into NLS 2 on Saturday 1st April.
Daniel Harper: “It’s great to be back racing on the best circuit in the world! Every race on the Nordschleife is a learning opportunity so while things didn’t entirely go our way in NLS 1, we’ve all gained some more crucial experience for future races.
“Qualifying down the order meant it was a tougher race than we’d hoped for, but we made some forward progress and the pace was there to run with the lead pack, which is good news for NLS 2 and beyond. Congratulations also to ROWE Racing for a brilliant win in their BMW M4 GT3.”
The trip to the Nürburgring wasn’t Harper’s first race action of 2023 though, with his extensive preparations for the British GT Championship alongside Darren Leung seeing them combine a busy schedule of pre-season tests with two appearances in the GT Winter Series behind the wheel of a Schubert Motorsport BMW M4 GT3.
Racing at the Navarra and Catalunya circuits in Spain earlier this month, Harper was on top form as he secured pole position at both venues and shared the endurance race win with Leung at Navarra, while his team-mate took a pair of brilliant sprint race victories the same weekend.
Source. Simon Paice Media/Photo. BMW
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