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BMW M Motorsport works driver Daniel Harper played a key role in a sensational charge from 16th position to a podium finish alongside Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen in the second round of the 2023 Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) on Saturday (1st April).

Building on a positive showing in the season opener last month, Harper and his former BMW Junior Team colleagues produced a stunning performance in their Team RMG prepared BMW M4 GT3 to secure their eighth overall podium finish on the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

Pre-event testing on Friday gave the Northern Irishman the opportunity to drive the Nordschleife in the wet for the first time in GT3 machinery. That proved to be crucial experience as they went on to tackle mixed conditions throughout the following day.

On-off rain showers in qualifying led to tough decisions on tyre choices, which combined with a Code caution zone hampering Harper’s fastest lap when the track was at its driest, meant the talented trio would start seventh on the grid for the four-hour race.

Lining up on the wet side of the grid, Verhagen suffered huge wheelspin as the race went green, with the subsequent loss of momentum causing him to lose a number of positions as the field worked their way through the opening few corners. By the end of the first lap, they were back in 16th place.

A smart strategy call by the Team RMG engineers saw them pit early to get them into clear air on track, starting off a spirited fightback. Verhagen was firmly in the top ten battle at the halfway point of the race, before he handed the BMW M4 GT3 over to Harper.

The 22 year old talent put in a star performance through his stint, with a string of rapid lap times moving him up the order. Onto the tail of a quick pair of Porsches ahead, Harper picked them off with eye-catching moves to move up to third position.

Lapping as the fastest car on the circuit as he started the final hour of the race, Harper then passed another Porsche for second place and was on the tail of the race-leading BMW when it was time to end his superb stint and give Hesse the reins to the finish.

The German racer completed their comeback in fine style as he brought the car home in third position at the chequered flag, securing them their first silverware of the 2023 Nürburgring season – to add to five previous Nürburgring Endurance Series podiums and a pair of top three results in the 24hr Qualifiers together.

Daniel Harper: “After some bad luck at the start of the race dropped us back to 16th position, it’s fair to say we were pretty surprised to have ended the race with a trophy in our hands. We’re proud of the achievement though and it was a testament to the great team effort of everyone involved.

“After two years of racing a GT3 car on the Nordschleife, it was about time I had my first wet laps and it’s fair to say they were a pretty crazy experience. It was great preparation for Saturday though, as constant stop-start rainfall meant it was a tricky day for track conditions.

“The pace was definitely there for a higher qualifying position were it not for a caution zone, and fortune was against us again at the start of the race with the wheelspin for Neil. No-one put their head down though and the team immediately made a gamble on strategy to give us the chance to make progress.

“It was a great call by them and it meant some fast, clean stints from all of us drivers meant we steadily worked our way up the order. I had fantastic fun in my stint, getting to grips with the evolving circuit and getting to make some overtaking moves to get into podium contention.

“All of this is preparation for the Nürburgring 24 Hours in May and I’m pleased with the steps forward we made again this weekend. We have one more NLS round to come and we’ll be looking to maximise that outing too before we return to the Nordschleife for the main event.”

The third round of the Nürburgring Endurance Series is coming up in two weeks’ time (15 April), however prior to that Harper will be making his British GT Championship debut at Oulton Park over the Easter bank holiday weekend (08-10 April).

Source. Simon Paice Media/Photo. Georgi Todorov


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