Belfast Telegraph

Harper relishes challenge after landing BMW Junior Team spot

 

Beaming: Daniel Harper is off to join BMW in Germany
Beaming: Daniel Harper is off to join BMW in Germany

By Sammy Hamill

British Porsche champion Daniel Harper has joined their great German rivals BMW on a two-year scholarship as part of their famed Junior Team.

The youngest winner of the Carrera Cup GB after a dominant season in 2019, Harper, who has just turned 19, is one of three drivers selected by BMW to join their Junior Team which in the past has helped to develop world champions Nico Rosberg and Sebastien Vettel.

He is moving to Germany, where for the next two years he will live, train and race alongside German driver Max Hesse and American Neil Verhagen.

They are currently in Italy, sharing a flat close to Formula Medicine in Viareggio, where a training camp spanning several weeks will focus on fitness and mental training.

BMW Motorsport says another pillar of the programme is the team concept. To strengthen this, once the training camp comes to an end, they will move into a shared flat near the Nurburgring circuit which will become the focal point of their racing driver training.

They will have the opportunity to test and race a variety of BMWs - from the new BMW M2 CS Racing through the BMW M4 GT4 to the BMW M6 GT3 - and will complete the entire season of endurance races at the legendary Nurburgring as well as the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, which incorporates the entire 20km of the historic Nordschleife circuit.

Hillsborough teenager Harper has made rapid progress through the racing ranks in just four years after being awarded a scholarship to take part in the UK Ginetta Junior Championship where he was rookie champion.

While still at school and ineligible to drive on the public roads, he was selected by Porsche GB to race in the fastest one-make Championship in Britain, winning the rookie award in 2018 and the overall Carrera Cup last season.

Highly rated by Porsche, there were expectations that Harper would step up to their Supercup series which supports Formula One races, but the announcement has now come that he has opted to join BMW.

"I'm honoured to be selected to be part of this exciting BMW programme and am really looking forward to the next two years," he said.

"I hope to be able to build on the successful period that I have enjoyed in recent years.

"The fact that Neil, Max and I will be working together as a team is not standard for us as racing drivers, but we have already got to know each other and get on really well. I think that we will have a lot of fun and will hopefully form a very strong BMW Junior Team."

His new team-mates are two 18-year-olds. Hesse won the TCR touring car series in Germany last year and Verhagen finished in sixth place overall in the British F3 Championship.

The BMW Junior Team was set up some 40 years ago by Jochen Neerpasch and has produced numerous champions including Rosberg and Vettel, as well as the likes of Eddie Cheever, Nico Hulkenburg and Daniel Ricciardo.

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