It’s official — Jochen Neerpasch is back at BMW with an official role. The legendary man who built the BMW M division from scratch was seen in a video published by the company on Youtube earlier this week, talking about the BMW Junior Team, yet another one of his projects. Back then we didn’t have an official confirmation as to whether he would be involved in any way in the efforts made by BMW M but today that confirmation finally arrived.
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The new BMW Junior Team was announced and Jochen Neerpasch will be one of the mentors guiding the three young drivers. Dan Harper, Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen will complete a holistic, first-class, intensive training program designed to cover two seasons that will set new standards in the promotion of young talented drivers. The objective of the totally new training concept is to further develop the Juniors in many different areas, stimulate them individually and holistically, and thereby make them better and, above all, more mature racing drivers according to BMW.
The BMW Junior Team will start its training program today as they move into a shared flat close to Formula Medicine in Viareggio, Italy, where a training camp spanning several weeks awaits them. Here the focus will be on fitness and mental training as fundamental elements of preparing for the race season. Another pillar of the program is the team concept. To strengthen this, once the training camp comes to an end, the Juniors will move into a shared flat near the Nürburgring, which will become the focal point of their racing driver training.
At the wheel of various BMW racing cars – from the new BMW M2 CS Racing through the BMW M4 GT4 to the BMW M6 GT3 – the BMW Junior Team will complete the entire season of the Nürburgring endurance series as well as the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. On top of the racing commitments come numerous additional training elements. Sim racing will play a major role, as will learning about operations away from pure racing, for example, at BMW M GmbH and in various other areas within the BMW Group.
“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,” said BMW Group Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “The new Juniors will be a real team and learn a great deal as part of our holistic, first-class, intensive programe both on and off the track,” he added.
“When I founded the first BMW Junior Team in 1977, we at BMW Motorsport were pioneers in junior development. 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. 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,” said Jochen Neerpasch.
The trio making up the new BMW Junior Team has already gained experience and their first successes in racing. 19-year-old Dan Harper won the title in the British Carrera Cup in 2019 and his achievements saw him nominated for the prestigious Autosport Awards. Eighteen-year-old Max Hesse celebrated winning the title in the rapidly growing touring car series TCR Germany in 2019. He was also ADAC’s sponsored candidate. Also 18 years old, Neil Verhagen finished in sixth place overall in the star-studded British F3 Championship in 2019 and was part of the Red Bull Junior program.