A NEWCOMER: THE BMW M2 CS RACING.
The new entry-level model produced by BMW M Motorsport has been contesting races at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife since 2019. After numerous races in the Nürburgring Endurance Series, a further milestone followed in the development of the BMW M Motorsport racing car, and the ultimate endurance test with the 2020 edition of the 24-hour race.
In the BMW M2 CS Racing media car, the past and future came face to face for the 50th anniversary of the 24 Hours Nürburgring. The design evoked all BMW’s past victories, and the blue and white colours paid homage to the first winning car of 1970, with the addition of modern BMW M Motorsport design elements on the bonnet. BMW works driver Dirk Adorf and his racing driver colleague Tom Coronel were at the wheel of the BMW M2 CS Racing media car. They shared the cockpit with the two journalists Christian Gebhardt and Niki Schelle.
THE BMW JUNIOR TEAM: THE FUTURE IS NOW.
The BMW M2 CS Racing wasn’t the only new chapter for BMW Motorsport at the anniversary edition of the 24-hour race, setting the course for a successful future at the ‘Green Hell’. The BMW Junior Team also entered the 50th edition of the race, and experienced a home event. For the duration of their training programme, Dan Harper, Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen live in a shared house just a few metres from the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. And with good reason, the Nürburgring-Nordschleife plays a central role in the Juniors’ training programme that spans several years.
The three Juniors have already proved that they are fast on the most difficult racetrack in the world in the NLS races in which they compete in various BMW cars. At the 24-hour race, Harper, Hesse and Verhagen showed that they are equal to the ultimate challenge. With their BMW M4 GT4, they brought home a class win in impressive style and, finishing 19th in the overall rankings, were the best non-GT3 team in the whole field.
The BMW Junior Team therefore passed the highlight of their first year of training with flying colours. When the BMW Junior Team moved into their shared house within easy reach of the Nürburgring in June 2020, the mission was clear: prepare as well as possible in terms of driving, physically and mentally to survive the 24 Hours Nürburgring. Countless hours later in the simulator, in the gym and above all in different BMW racing cars, one thing is certain, the youngsters lived up to everything that those responsible for reviving the legendary BMW Junior Team of 1977 promised they would. Those included the promises of Jochen Neerpasch, who founded the first BMW Junior Team in 1977, and is on hand to assist and advise the new generation as a mentor. “The BMW Junior Team really did experience the most difficult conditions you could imagine on their debut at the 24 Hours Nürburgring. But they passed this extreme challenge with flying colours. That was their masterpiece of the first year of their training together.”
The young drivers were happy themselves at the end of the turbulent race as well. “That was an awesome race. Many thanks to the team, to Dan and Neil,” said Hesse. “We had very challenging conditions for our first-ever 24-hour race, so to finish a race like that with a class win and a top-20 finish in the overall rankings is incredible.” Harper said: “It feels fantastic to have finished the first 24-hour race as class winner and best non-GT3. Many thanks to the Walkenhorst Motorsport team and to BMW Motorsport for giving us the opportunity to contest this race. And huge thanks to my team-mates and to Jochen Neerpasch, who together with BMW Motorsport selected us to be the BMW Junior Team.”
Verhagen was the closing driver for the BMW Junior Team and brought the BMW M4 GT4 safely across the finish line, despite a moment of horror after a spin. After 78 race laps, Verhagen had a lead of almost nine minutes over the second-placed car in the SP8T class and finished 19th overall. Only cars in the top classes of SP9 and SP-X finished ahead of him. “Being allowed to be the one to cross the finish line at the end was a very special moment,” said Verhagen. “I can’t thank BMW Motorsport and the Walkenhorst team enough, both for the fantastic car that we were allowed to drive here in the 24-hour race, and for the opportunity to even be part of this BMW Junior Team.”