2019 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Dan Harper will be making the switch to BMW this year as it was announced that he would form part of the BMW Junior programme as it returns along with Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen.
The first BMW Junior programme saw the likes of Eddie Cheever, Manfred Winkelhock and Marc Curer take on the world in the programme founded by Jochen Neerpasch.
For 2020 Neerpasch will return as a mentor for the young drivers as they focus on their training on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife and other various appearances throughout the year.
The trio will be moving in to a shared flat close to Formula Medicine in Viareggio, Italy where they will face a training camp that will last several weeks, focusing on fitness and mental training.
As the programme looks to build on the team concept the three drivers will move to a shared flat near Nürburgring upon completion of the training camp.
Over the course of the year they will get the opportunity to drive a range of machinery from the German manufacturer including the new BMW M2 CS Racing, BMW M4 GT4 and the mighty BMW M6 GT3.
The BMW Junior Team will complete the entire season of the Nürburgring endurance series (formerly VLN) as well as the 24 Hours of Nürburgring.
There will also be a focus on Sim racing for the trio along with learning about general operations away from the race track.
“I would like to extend a warm welcome to the BMW family to Dan Harper, Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen as members of the new generation of the BMW Junior Team,” said BMW Group Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt.
“The rebirth of the legendary BMW Junior Team after more than 40 years is something very special to us here at BMW Motorsport, all the more since we were able to secure the founder of the then BMW Junior Team and of BMW Motorsport GmbH, Jochen Neerpasch, as one of the mentors for the new generation. This sees tradition and future meet in what is a perfect configuration from our perspective.
“The new Juniors will be a real team and learn a great deal as part of our holistic, first-class, intensive programme both on and off the track. Our new concept is based on multiple pillars: racing at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, sim racing as a new, future-oriented area, mental and fitness training at Formula Medicine, training content within the BMW Group, and team building through living together in shared accommodation. With this comprehensive concept, we are raising our junior development to another new level.”
Jochen Neerpasch is delighted to be part of the new BMW Junior Team, “When I founded the first BMW Junior Team in 1977, we at BMW Motorsport were pioneers in junior development.” said Neerpasch.
“We made training young racing drivers a professional undertaking for the first time. Now, being involved in the advancement of a BMW Junior Team again after more than 40 years is a real joy. I know from experience that young drivers learn a lot more quickly when they act as a team rather than just battling for themselves.
“It was on this basis that, in collaboration with those in charge at BMW Motorsport, the idea of reviving the BMW Junior Team came into being. I’m fascinated by the thought that these three Juniors will learn together on the most difficult racetrack in the world and will also receive training in many other areas. I’m confident that the three of them will make their way into professional racing. We will do our best to give them the ideal basis for this.”
Along with Neerpasch the trio will see support from BMW Works driver Philipp Eng, Dr. Ricciardo Ceccarelli of Formula Medicine, and BMW Works driver Dirk Adorf who has been acting as a mentor for BMW Motorsport Juniors since 2011.
“I’m really looking forward to going through the two-year programme alongside our Juniors,” said Adorf. “The lads are already very strong and will be trained by us in all areas offered by the BMW Motorsport and BMW Group environment. On top of this, they will be learning on the best racetrack in the world. If they are quick there, they will no doubt do well everywhere.
“I am very familiar with the Nürburgring and am always available there for the Juniors as a primary advisor. With my track knowledge, but also with my knowledge of the region. When they are living in a flat there they will also need someone to answer standard everyday questions. I think that I will be able to help them get to know lots of people and to feel at home.”