24H SPA EWC Motos: Another podium for BMW Motorrad EWC
Spa-Francorchamps. The tension within the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team finally evaporated after 24 intensive hours of racing at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (BEL); Markus Reiterberger (GER), Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR) and Jérémy Guarnoni (FRA) again finished on the podium with the #37 BMW M 1000 RR at round two of the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship (FIM EWC), the 24H SPA EWC Motos. They produced a flawless performance to come home third at the home race for Werner Daemen (BEL) and his team. The trio had previously finished third at the opening race weekend in Le Mans (FRA). This season’s results make for happy reading so far; two races, two podium celebrations. The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team also lies third in the Team world championship standings, 33 points behind the leaders.
The qualifying sessions on Friday confirmed that the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team would again be among the top teams at Spa-Francorchamps, having taken victory there last year. The #37 BMW M 1000 RR secured second place on the grid.
On several occasions during the early stages of the race, Reiterberger, Mikhalchik and Guarnoni were unfortunate with safety car phases that cost them a lot of time after their pit stops. The result was that the trio dropped back down the field each time – once as far as 19th. However, Reiterberger, Mikhalchik and Guarnoni repeatedly worked their way back through the field, one position at a time.
By the eighth hour of the race, Reiterberger, Mikhalchik and Guarnoni had climbed as high as fourth place. They maintained that position through the night, thanks to consistently good lap times, efficient fuel consumption, flawless work from the riders and team, and a bike that was running smoothly – always poised to snatch a spot on the podium.
That opportunity came with three and a half hours remaining, when the Suzuki team ahead of them encountered technical issues and dropped back. Reiterberger inherited third place, which he, Mikhalchik and Guarnoni comfortably maintained through to the finish. Even the onset of rain in the closing stages could not prevent them from claiming their second podium finish of the season.
Fresh from their debut victory in the Superstock class at the season-opener in Le Mans, the new Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team again made a strong start to the race weekend. The team, making its first appearance at Spa-Francorchamps, set the pace in the Superstock class with the #9 BMW M 1000 RR. By the end of qualifying, Kenny Foray (FRA), Jan Bühn (GER) and Loïc Arbel (FRA) had secured pole position in their category. At the start of the race, Foray was able to match the pace of the EWC teams. However, the first setback was just around the corner. Foray was forced into the garage by a technical issue. The mechanics gave it their all and, after several hours of repair work, the Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team was able to re-join the race in the evening. However, they ultimately had to retire the bike during the night.
Round three of the 2023 FIM EWC season, the 8 Hours of Suzuka (JPN), takes place on 6th August.
Quotes after the 24H SPA EWC Motos.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “We are very happy with third place. At the beginning of the race, there were unfortunate situations with the safety car periods, which caused us to lose several positions without having any influence on it. But the team fought back every time, and we deserve this third place. All three riders and the pit crew did an outstanding job, and the motorcycle ran almost like a clockwork. We only had to change the exhaustonce, and the team did it super quickly and precisely. Towards the end, the conditions became very tricky with the onset of rain, and we handled that superbly as well. We celebrate this result; we gladly take it home. It was also important that we solidified our third place in the championship. Now, our entire focus is on the next race in Suzuka. However, there is also some homework that we need to complete to reach the top because we weren’t fast enough for that today. At the same time, it’s a pity that the Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team couldn’t bring their excellent performance to the finish due to a technical problem. But the team worked well and tried to fix the problem. They were able to return to the track and set very strong lap times, but unfortunately, the problem recurred.”
Werner Daemen, Team Manager BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team: “It has been a very hectic race, for me and the entire team. In the beginning, we were unlucky with the Safety Car periods three times. We also struggled a bit when it was warmer as we didn’t have the right set-up for the bike. But once it cooled down a bit, I think we were one of the best teams. The riders did an incredible job again, the mechanics made no mistakes and when you have these ingredients, the podium is always possible. We were lucky that some other brands had technical problems. I have to say thank you to BMW that gave us a bike, as they did at Le Mans, that didn’t have any problem over the 24 hours. Now, we are third in the championship, and everything is open. Next up for us is the Japan pre-test and we are well prepared. There we need another strong result to be ready for the finale at Le Castellet, where we can achieve a podium or more.”
Markus Reiterberger: “After securing second place in qualifying, we were confident for the race. My start was great, and in the early laps, I was able to maintain second place. However, I struggled with grip in the high temperatures, so played it safe, and handed over the bike in fourth position. Unfortunately, in the early stages, we had the misfortune of doing three pit stops during the Safety Car period and had wait at the pit exit which caused us to lose a lot of time. However, we were able to complete the entire race without any mistakes, all three of us gave our maximum, and at times, we were the fastest on track. However, the gap to the front was significant, and the top three were so fast that it was difficult to catch them. But we remained error-free until the end and were able to secure third place. Thanks to the team, to everyone who cheered us on. It was a tough, long race, but we are all happy that we could finish it on the podium.”
Ilya Mikhalchik: “We are obviously very happy. Our speed during the race was faster than we expected. A few times, we had bad luck with the pit lane exit during a Safety Car and lost time but overall, we didn’t make any mistakes and everyone in the team did a great job. Now we focus on Japan and our goal is to finish there in a good position.”
Jérémy Guarnoni: “We are happy of course, it’s another podium, the second in a row after Le Mans. Naturally, we always want to win but this time we were clearly not lucky with the Safety Car and lost a lot of time, maybe two laps. As a result, we lost contact with the riders in front, so it was more difficult for us to fight with them. But it’s a good result for the team and for the championship. I am very pleased with the job everyone did, the mechanics, the team, and my really fast team-mates.”