Nürburg. The BMW Junior Team extends successful run at the Nürburgring Nordschleife (GER) in the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS). After recording two wins in races four and five, Max Hesse (GER), Dan Harper (GBR) and Neil Verhagen (USA) in the #44 BMW M6 GT3 remained involved in the battle for victory to the end of Saturday's seventh race. After six hours of racing, they claimed the second spot on the podium. The new BMW M4 GT3 also made its debut at the seventh NLS race, driven by Philipp Eng (AUT) and Augusto Farfus (BRA).
The BMW Juniors secured fifth position on the grid in Saturday morning's qualifying session. A great, error-free performance from all three drivers swiftly put the trio on course for the podium as they battled for another win. They also set the fastest race lap with the #44 BMW M6 GT3. Hesse, Harper and Verhagen finished second to secure another podium, crossing the line less than 20 seconds behind the victorious Manthey Porsche.
The new BMW M4 GT3, which is still in the test and development phase, made a racing debut out of competition in the SP-X prototype class. Cars in this class have to start at the back of the GT3 field, regardless of their result in qualifying. Farfus and Eng then worked their way up into the top ten with the #55 BMW M4 GT3. Running the tank to empty was part of the planning for the day, and the car then rolled to a stop at the entry to the pit lane once the fuel ran out in the final minutes.
The #35 BMW M6 GT3 from Walkenhorst Motorsport also recorded a top six finish. Jörg Müller, Mario von Bohlen, Dennis Fetzer (all GER) and Thomas Neubauer (FRA) finished in sixth position. Starting from tenth on the grid, David Pittard (GBR) sprinted up to second in the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, before a double dose of tyre damage knocked him and his team-mates Christian Krognes (NOR) and Ben Tuck (GBR) a long way back. The team's #36 BMW M6 GT3, driven by Henry Walkenhorst, Jörg Breuer and Andreas Ziegler (all GER), crossed the line in 14th place overall, and in second place in the SP9 AM class.
This was a first taste of the Nordschleife for Jake Dennis (GBR). Having finished third in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship 2021, he had made his GT racing debut for BMW M Motorsport last weekend in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Endurance Cup and is now aiming for his Nordschleife permit. In the seventh NLS race, Dennis shared driving duties with Niklas Krütten (GER) in the #652 BMW M240i Racing from the Adrenalin Motorsport Team Alzner Automotive. The duo claimed second place in the BMW M240i class.
Reactions after round seven of the 2021 NLS.
Mike Krack, Head of BMW M Motorsport: "We had a successful day all round on the Nordschleife. Congratulations to our three BMW Juniors Max, Dan and Neil - they battled for their next NLS win right up to the final lap in their BMW M6 GT3 and can be very satisfied with second place. The three gave an error-free performance, delivering impressive proof that they are certainly one of the real top teams on the Nordschleife. Our new BMW M4 GT3 also enjoyed a successful race debut. The car ran like clockwork and we had no problems at all during yesterday's testing or in qualifying and the race today. Augusto and Philipp were delighted with the performance of the BMW M4 GT3 and confirmed how great the BMW M4 GT3 drives on the Nordschleife. Overall, we are very pleased with this NLS Saturday."
Max Hesse, #44 BMW M6 GT3, BMW Junior Team: "It was a good six-hour race for us. The team gave a top performance and it was very, very close at the end. Of course, it was a bit of a shame that we didn't quite manage to grab the win but we will try to do that again in two weeks. To be honest, the Manthey guys are really strong here at the Nordschleife. The drivers are the reigning champions in the 24-hour race and so we can really pleased to have kept the gap to below 20 seconds after a six-hour race."
Neil Verhagen, #44 BMW M6 GT3, BMW Junior Team: "When you are so close to the win, it is obviously a bit bitter-sweet but I think we can be super happy with today. BMW Team RMG, Max and Dan and myself, I think we all achieved pretty much the maximum that we could today. We knew that we really need to put everything together to be competitive and that is exactly what we did. So I am super happy with the team and with my team-mates. Thank you to BMW and to everybody involved to make this possible because it was definitely not easy. We fought over the entire race and it was just down to the wire. Now we keep pushing to return to the top step."
Dan Harper, #44 BMW M6 GT3, BMW Junior Team: "Overall, I am very happy with the result. Obviously on the back of two wins, the second place and even being so close to first place, can be a bit disappointing but we can for sure be very happy. The team and us three drivers we have done a good job, we achieved the maximum that was possible and collected good points for the championship. And it is always nice to spray some champagne."
Philipp Eng, #55 BMW M4 GT3: "That was so much fun. It was an honour for me to complete the debut race for the BMW M4 GT3 together with Augusto. The car drives extremely well. If you compare it with the BMW M6 GT3, it is even easier to drive but the performance is even better. The Nordschleife was a busy place again today and I had a few situations with other cars but it helped that you can overtake offline with the BMW M4 GT3 too, without getting yourself into trouble right away. Overall, I feel that it went great. The race was smooth and I would be happy to start the 24-hour race with this car right away."
Augusto Farfus, #55 BMW M4 GT3: "It was a very emotional day because I remember my first rollout in Dingolfing and after so many months, we come to the Nordschleife and I did the first race start with the new BMW M4 GT3. It was just great. Thanks to BMW who did an amazing job, the car ran trouble-free. We could experience and measure the speed of the car against the competition so it was a great lesson today. The car feels very, very good and I can't wait to be back at the Nordschleife with the car."
Jake Dennis, #652 BMW M240i Racing: "It was fantastic to finally experience the Nordschleife. It certainly lived up to my expectations. Everybody had warned me how difficult it is and entire circuit is just impressive. There is not really one combination what makes it superior to any other, it is just 25 kilometres of challenge. It is so on the edge and when the conditions are mixed as well, as we had them in this morning's qualifying, it makes life even more challenging. But that's part of the Nordschleife and that's what makes it so special. It has been a great experience and the BMW M240i Racing is a great car to learn the circuit. And to finish second in the class was obviously very nice."