24h Le Mans: First podium finish of the season for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team
Le Mans. The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team kicked off the FIM Endurance World Championship 2023 (FIM EWC) with a podium finish. Markus Reiterberger (GER), Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR) and Jérémy Guarnoni (FRA) claimed third place at the opening event, the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA). This was also the first podium for the new #37 BMW M 1000 RR in its first race. Mikhalchik also posted the fastest lap time, 1:35.751 minutes. The newly-formed Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team enjoyed a perfect debut, claiming victory in the Superstock class.
Having endured difficult, changeable conditions during qualifying, the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team began the 24-hour race from eighth place. It took just 90 minutes for the #37 BMW M 1000 RR to reach second and Reiterberger, Mikhalchik and Guarnoni battled for the lead as the hours ticked by.
However, the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team had to overcome a setback in the eighth hour of the race. Mikhalchik slid as he was overtaking a slower rider and had to head for the pits with a damaged motorbike. The team gave a fantastic collective performance to repair the bike, returning Mikhalchik to the track after just seven and a half minutes. The trio on the #37 then mounted a recovery performance from seventh position.
As the race progressed, the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team stood up to the harsh conditions, overcoming very cold temperatures and early morning fog to move up place by place. On Sunday morning, in the 19th hour of the race, the #37 BMW M 1000 RR was back in third and on course for the podium. Mikhalchik, Reiterberger and Guarnoni held that position to the finish line.
Kenny Foray (FRA), Jan Bühn (GER) and Loïc Arbel (FRA) were riding the new #9 BMW M 1000 RR for the newly-formed Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team. Supported by BMW Motorrad Motorsport, the French team started its first race from second place in the Superstock class. The class lead was claimed early on and was only surrendered rarely, and briefly, as the race progressed. The Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team was able to celebrate a debut class victory. In the overall standings, the team claimed an outstanding eighth place.
The privateer Team LRP Poland (#90 BMW S 1000 RR) took a not-at-fault tumble due to an oil slick on Sunday morning, returning to the race after a break for repairs. Dominik Vincon (GER), Pepijn Bijsterbosch (NED) and Julian Puffe (GER) reached the finish line in 15th place overall, corresponding to eleventh in the Formula-EWC class. The #74 BMW S 1000 RR from the Seigneur Motorsport Team Mont-Blanc, with William Wallart, Christophe Seigneur and Joachim Delaforce (all FRA) at the controls, reached 29th place overall and 17th in the Superstock class.
The second race event in the FIM EWC 2023 will take place on 17th/18th June, the 24 HEURES SPA Motos in Spa-Francorchamps (BEL), where the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team last year celebrated its first win in a 24-hour race.
Reactions after the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “This 24 Hours of Le Mans once again had everything that makes endurance racing special: action and drama. The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team also experienced highs and lows here at Le Mans, but never gave up and claimed a well-deserved third place on the podium. Congratulations to the riders and the team, who gave their all. We showed that we can battle for the win with our overall package. Our new BMW M 1000 RR went like clockwork in its first race, the performance was outstanding, the fastest lap shows how fast it is and there were no technical issues at all. That is an excellent foundation for the upcoming races this season. A big thank you to everyone in the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team led by Werner Daemen and at BMW Motorrad Motorsport, who have contributed to this successful debut for our new endurance bike. We are also delighted with the win for the Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Teams in the Superstock class – that was the perfect debut for this newly-formed team. Congratulations to Arnaud Sassone’s squad!”
Werner Daemen, Team Manager BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team: “We are very happy. It was our goal to finish on the podium and we achieved it. Our new BMW M 1000 RR was strong, fast and reliable over the entire week, and it was great to transfer its huge potential into a podium finish. Everyone in the team did an outstanding job again. The preparation for the race and the pit-stops have been perfect. All our riders were fast and once more showed a very strong performance. Thanks to everyone in the team and at BMW Motorrad Motorsport for enabling us to start the season strongly. Now we can’t wait for our home race at Spa-Francorchamps.”
Markus Reiterberger: “It’s great to start the new season with a podium at Le Mans. It was a very eventful race and going home with a trophy at the end is a well-deserved reward for the hard work of the entire team. Our new BMW M 1000 RR was fast and great to ride. Starting from eighth on the grid, we fought for the lead early on in the race. The bike ran without any issues, the tyres worked well, in all the conditions that we experienced at Le Mans. We showed how strong our package is when we worked our way back up the field after the repairs, which the team completed super quickly. We have shown that also the win would have been possible if we would not have had the crash but those things can always happen in an eventful race like this. Overall, there are a lot of points that make us very confident going into the next races.”
Ilya Mikhalchik: “I am happy that we finished the race on the podium. I had this unlucky fall when I was approaching a slower rider in front of me. I lost the front but managed to bring the bike back to the garage. The team did an incredible job repairing the bike – a big thank you and sorry for my mistake! The team enabled us to quickly return to the track, start our catch-up and get the podium result. The new bike is really great to ride, and the fact that I set the fastest lap of the race proves its speed. We know that we can fight for the wins with it. It is a good feeling to know that we have a strong package of bike, riders and team. Now our full focus is on Spa, a race we have fond memories of.”
Jérémy Guarnoni: “We are really happy with that result. Third place is pretty good. I think that we have the pace for the win but 24 hours are long and it is really difficult to make no mistakes, so we are really satisfied. The bike was amazing and really fast and the tyres worked well. The mechanics did a great job repairing the bike very, very fast after the crash. All this is really good and the attitude of everyone is great. We are now quite well placed in the championship and now we are looking forward to Spa. We know that we are very fast there.”