Daniel Harper produced eye-catching pace and racecraft as he helped guide the BMW Junior Team to a sensational first win of the season in the qualifier races for the ADAC TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Nürburgring.
Following on from a brilliant podium finish in the latest round of the Nürburgring Endurance Series last month, Harper and his team-mates Neil Verhagen and Max Hesse were the class of the field across a pair of three hour races on the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
The action began on Friday with a couple of two hour qualifying sessions, with the talented trio continuing their impressive pace in their BMW M4 GT3. Their car had a number change to #72 for the weekend, in honour of the 50th anniversary of BMW M which was born in 1972.
Front-running lap times across the two sessions secured their position in the fiercely contested top 30 shootout, with Harper being selected to take the reigns in that session following some standout performances in his recent NES qualifying sessions.
The Northern Irishman took full advantage of the opportunity to shine, lapping quicker than the previous lap record for the 24 hours track layout as he finished second fastest overall, just a tenth of a second shy of the pole position effort from another BMW M4 GT3.
Verhagen started the opening race in the cockpit and a great stint saw him stick right on to the tail of the leader in second place. Harper was next in the car and after emerging in third, he mounted a challenge to those ahead and picked off both cars in quick succession to take the lead.
A series of impressive lap times led to the BRDC SuperStar and Motorsport UK Academy Team UK member building a lead of over 11 seconds before handing over to Hesse, who brought the car home for the BMW Junior Team’s third overall victory on the Nordschleife.
Sunday began with another qualifying shootout, with Harper once again chosen to pilot the Shell Helix Ultra backed machine. He once again starred, with another blistering lap time securing him another front row start in second overall for race two that afternoon.
It was a case of déjà vu in the opening stint of the race as Verhagen once again held second place throughout before handing over to Harper. The 21 year old emerged on the tail of two other BMW M4 GT3’s and after some thrilling high speed action, he overtook both with brilliant moves.
Whilst he ran third on the road behind two Mercedes, once the final pitstops had all been completed Hesse was up into a race lead that he wouldn’t relinquish. Taking the chequered flag first on the road, there would unfortunately be disappointment when a time penalty for a Code 60 violation dropped them a position to second.
Daniel Harper: “We honestly couldn’t have asked for much more from this weekend. To get our first race win of 2022 on the board was fantastic, and to follow it up with another great performance really was the icing on the cake. “Our priority for the weekend was preparing for the Nürburgring 24 Hours and we’ve done exactly that. The car ran faultlessly all weekend – a big thank you to BMW Team RMG for that – and all three of us behind the wheel were able to produce great speed. “We’ll be working hard with the team over the next couple of weeks to try and find some more improvements to the car ahead of the 24 hour race. We’re getting ready for one of the toughest races in the world and I can’t wait to get out there.”
The ADAC TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Nürburgring takes place over the weekend of 28/29 May.
Source. Simon Paice Media/Photo. Gruppe C Photography