MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Deutschland –
Source: BMW Group Munich. Learn, drive through, make no mistakes: with these goals, the BMW Junior Team made its debut at the Nürburgring 24 Hours (GER) last weekend. In the end, Dan Harper (GBR), Max Hesse (GER) and Neil Verhagen (USA) not only achieved these goals, they also achieved an impressive class win with their BMW M4 GT4 and were the best non-GT3 in 19th place overall -Team across the field. The BMW Junior Team thus passed the high point of its first year of training with flying colors. When the BMW Junior Team moved into their common house in the immediate vicinity of the Nürburgring in June 2020, the mission was clear: It was about preparing as well as possible driver, physically and mentally for the 24 hours on the Nürburgring, perhaps the toughest circuit race, that exist to exist. Countless hours in the simulator, in the fitness room and, above all, in various BMW racing cars later, one thing is clear: Dan Harper, Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen have kept everything that those responsible for the revival of the legendary BMW Junior Team in 1977 had promised.
First and foremost Jochen Neerpasch, who founded the first BMW Junior Team in 1977 and supports the new generation as a mentor with advice and action. Of course, he was there last weekend too – and was impressed by the performance of his protégés: “For its premiere at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, the BMW Junior Team really encountered the most difficult conditions imaginable. But they mastered this extreme challenge with flying colors. That was their masterpiece for the first year of their training together. “
The young drivers themselves were also happy at the end of the turbulent race, which had to be interrupted on Saturday evening due to heavy rain and which presented all drivers – even the most experienced in the field – with major challenges due to constantly changing track and weather conditions.
“That was a great race. Many thanks to the team, to Dan and Neil, ”said Hesse. “We had very special conditions right from our first 24-hour race. To end such a race with a class win and a top 20 position in the overall standings is unbelievable. “
Harper said: “It was a fantastic feeling to have finished the first 24-hour race as class winner and best non-GT3. Many thanks to the Walkenhorst Motorsport Team and BMW Motorsport for giving us the chance to take part in this race in the first place. A huge thank you also to my teammates and to Jochen Neerpasch for choosing us as a BMW Junior Team together with BMW Motorsport.
Verhagen was the final driver of the BMW Junior Team and brought the BMW M4 GT4 entered by Walkenhorst Motorsport safely to the finish despite a moment of shock due to a spin. After 78 racing laps, Verhagen had almost nine minutes ahead of the runner-up in the SP8T class and finished 19th overall. Before that, only the cars in the top SP9 and SP-X classes were placed. “It was a very special moment that I was allowed to be the one who crossed the finish line,” said Verhagen. “I can’t thank BMW Motorsport and the Walkenhorst team enough. Both for the fantastic car that we got to drive here in the 24-hour race and for the chance to be part of this BMW Junior Team at all.
The 24 hours at the Nürburgring 2020 were the highlight of the first year of training for the BMW Junior Team. It completed its first races on the Nordschleife in the BMW M240i Racing in order to acquire the permit for the racetrack. Even with this entry-level vehicle, Harper and Verhagen achieved a class victory in the third race of the season in the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS). In the fourth NLS race, the team switched to the BMW M4 GT4, which the team will use for the rest of the Nordschleife season after the 24-hour race. In the second year of training in 2021, the switch to the GT3 vehicle is due.
“I’m already very excited to see how they will fare next time in the GT3 car,” said Neerpasch. “Because then the goal will be to have a say in the battle for the top positions.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.