Bol d‘Or: Technical issue thwarts BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team from pole position
Le Castellet. The finale of this season’s FIM Endurance World Championship (FIM EWC), the 85th staging of the Bol d’Or at Le Castellet (FRA), began with the highly-acclaimed first FIM EWC pole position for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, but ended in disappointment. The team was forced to retire with a technical issue, having been in contention at the front of the field in the opening hours of the race. Markus Reiterberger (GER), Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR) and Jérémy Guarnoni (FRA) again alternated in the saddle of the #37 BMW M 1000 RR. Kenny Foray (FRA) was the fourth rider.
Having set the fastest time in the unofficial free practice session on Thursday morning, the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team also dominated the two-part qualifying – and secured its first pole position in the FIM EWC with new lap records. Reiterberger broke the previous record in part one of qualifying on Thursday. Mikhalchik was the fastest in his group and came close to matching Reiterberger’s time. That put the #37 BMW M 1000 RR on provisional pole position on Thursday evening. Part two of qualifying on Friday morning saw Reiterberger go even faster and set another record time in his group. Then came Mikhalchik, who was even faster; a time of 1:51.641 minutes made him the fastest FIM EWC rider ever at Circuit Paul Ricard. Thanks to these impressive lap records, the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team was unbeatable in qualifying and deservedly took pole position for the anniversary race.
Starting from pole, Reiterberger, Mikhalchik and Guarnoni spent the first few hours of the race battling in the leading group in which positions changed hands on a regular basis. However, a technical issue with the powertrain then forced the team to retire from the race. Like all other top teams, the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team encountered difficulties on the technical demanding track.
After 24 eventful hours of racing, the best-placed BMW team at the chequered flag was Team LRP Poland (#90 BMW S 1000 RR). Dominic Vincon (GER), Bartlomiej Lewandoski (POL) and Pepijn Bijsterbosch (NED) reached the finish in eighth of the EWC class and missed out the top ten of the overall result only narrowly with 11th position. Japanese team TONE RT SYNCEDGE 4413 BMW (#85 BMW M 1000 RR) finished their first Bol d’Or in tenth position of the EWC class (28th overall). Tomoya Hoshino, Takeshi Ishizuka and Shinichi Nakatomi (all JPN) shared riding duties. Seigneur Motorsport Team Mont Blanc (#74 BMW HP4) from France had to retire with a technical issue.
Quotes after the Bol d’Or.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “It is obviously very disappointing that the season ended this way for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team. The team and riders once again impressed at the Bol d’Or and would have more than deserved a top result. The outstanding performances in qualifying and the first few hours of the race showed how strong the team and riders are. Unfortunately, we had a technical issue with the powertrain. We will analyse exactly what the cause was and work hard to prevent this from happening in the future. It was confirmed that the Le Castellet circuit poses major challenges for the bikes. You could see this during the race. However, our task is to master these challenges. That is what we will now focus on. I would like to thank the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team and our riders for their commitment and great performance this season, the highlight of which was undoubtedly victory in the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps. We now start preparing for next season, in which we will be looking to convert the great potential we have into regular top results.”
Werner Daemen, Team Manager BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team: “The race week was hectic but very good. In the beginning, everything was very positive, the pre Bol test, testing, practice, qualifying. The team did a tremendous job; the tyres were good. We claimed pole position and the start of the race was really good. I think that everybody could see that we were fighting for the lead in the first hours. But then we unfortunately had the technical issue.”
Markus Reiterberger: “We were very well in the mix over the week. We claimed the first pole position for our team and the bike was very well balanced and working great. It had a superb start and during the first stints, we had a really good feeling on the bike. We said that this is exactly how a 24-hour bike needs to feel. Unfortunately we then got another technical issue. The team tried to repair it but we had to retire. I think that the team and the riders could not do a better job at the moment, we have always been among the top but a solution needs to be found to solve the technical issues to enable us to get the deserved wins next year.”
Ilya Mikhalchik: “For sure we are more disappointed at the moment than happy because we were pushing so hard, everyone in the team, but we had to retire due to the issue. But anyway, we did a good job over the entire week. All of us riders have always been in the top of our groups, the mechanics worked hard and faultlessly. The lap times, the speed and the pace would really have enabled us to fight for the win. This for sure makes us happy. We now just need to leave the disappointment behind us and we hope that we will have more luck in our box and that we will celebrate victories or other strong results.”
Jérémy Guarnoni: “We showed that we have the speed and the pace. Also in the pit stops, we are really strong and had all capacity to win this race. I think we were even stronger than at Spa. We just need to find the solution to be able to finish more races. And I have no doubts that we will solve these issues because we don’t give up.”