FIM EWC 8h Spa Motos: Battle for podium in Ardennes goes unrewarded

Spa-Francorchamps. BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team experienced a rollercoaster of emotions at the Ardennes rollercoaster at Spa-Francorchamps (BEL). The team, with riders Markus Reiterberger (GER), Sylvain Guintoli (FRA), and Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR), was in a promising fight for the podium with the #37 BMW M 1000 RR. However, after four hours of racing, the team had to retire prematurely at the 8h Spa Motos. The race in Belgium marked the second round of the 2024 FIM Endurance World Championship (FIM EWC). At the season opener at Le Mans (FRA) in April, the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team secured second place on the podium.

 

Starting from fourth place, Reiterberger immediately surged to the front in the first corners. In the ensuing hours, he, Guintoli, and Mikhalchik consistently raced in the leading group with the #37 bike. However, in the fourth hour of the race, disaster struck. While running in third place, Guintoli lost control of the bike for unknown reasons and crashed. The Frenchman managed to return to the pits, and the team did everything possible to keep the #37 in the race. Guintoli was able to get back on track, but as oil was leaking, he had to return to the pits two more times. Eventually, the team decided to withdraw the bike for safety reasons.

 

In the Superstock class, Team Étoile from Japan celebrated pole position on Friday for the #25 BMW M 1000 RR, piloted by Yudai Kamei, Hikari Okubo, and Kazuki Watanabe (all JPN). The Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team, with Kenny Foray (FRA), Jan Bühn (GER), and Loïc Arbel (FRA) on the #9 BMW M 1000 RR, started the race from fifth place in the class. Both teams initially performed confidently in the top three of the class. However, in the second hour of the race, the #25 bike stopped on track, and Okubo had to push the bike back to the pits before the team could resume the race. Shortly after, the #9 bike had a crash. The French team was also able to continue the race. After eight hours of racing, Team Étoile crossed the line in sixth position of the Superstock class and the Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team was 13th in the class.

 

The third round of the 2024 FIM EWC, the eight-hour race in Suzuka, Japan, will be held on 21st July.

 

Reactions after the 8H SPA EWC Motos:

 

Christian Gonschor, Technical Director BMW Motorrad Motorsport: “It is of course very unfortunate that we had to retire from the race early. Once again, our #37 BMW M 1000 RR was among the absolute top bikes with its performance, and the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team was fighting for another success on its home track. But endurance racing is a tough test for both man and machine. After Sylvain’s crash and the subsequent repairs, we detected an oil leak. For the safety of our riders, our competitors, and the event, we decided together not to continue the race. We don’t know more at this time; it is also unclear whether the leak was possibly the cause of the crash. This detailed analysis will now take place in Munich. Thank you to the entire BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team and our riders, who once again did an excellent and hard job here at Spa. Unfortunately, this went unrewarded. Our full focus is now on the next race at Suzuka, where we aim to be the first European manufacturer to reach the podium.”

 

Werner Daemen, Team Manager BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team: “We had an issue, an oil leak and we could not find the leak during the race. I think that we took the right decision to stop the race. It would have been too dangerous for the riders and for everyone on track. This is why we took this decision all together. Now we go to Japan, we focus on that and will test next week.”

 

Sylvain Guintoli (#37 BMW M 1000 RR, BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team): “We are obviously disappointed with the race. It’s a shame. We were on course for a podium and a strong finish but unfortunately we have been stopped. Let’s think positive and focus on preparing for Suzuka. We will test soon and I’m looking forward to that.”

 

Markus Reiterberger (#37 BMW M 1000 RR, BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team): “The start of the race was really good. I was able to push hard on the first few laps. The bike was great, and I was in the leading group. Unfortunately, we had to retire early. That was very disappointing because I believe a podium finish was definitely within reach. But it is what it is. We win and lose together as a team. There are always ups and downs, but we were strong throughout the entire weekend and were always competitive. We know what we need to work on and what the positive aspects are. We’ll take that into the next race. I want to thank the team for a weekend that was great despite the outcome. We showed excellent teamwork, and we’ll take the positive things with us.”

 

Ilya Mikhalchik (#37 BMW M 1000 RR, BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team): “For sure it’s frustrating that the race ended like this. I was hoping for a podium at least and that would have been a realistic result. That was really possible from our speed and from our performance. But this time we had a bit of bad luck. For sure, this is not the result we hoped for and we would have deserved. But thanks to the team, they did a great job, and to my team-mates, who were pushing really hard all week, on all laps and in all sessions. We were fighting for the top positions. Now I look forward to the next race, where we try to do our best again.”

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