It was an Easter weekend full of action for the BMW S 1000 RR racers in the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) and the British Superbike Championship (BSB). The endurance specialists within the BMW Motorrad Motorsport family competed in one of the most famous races at all – the 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA). The BMW racers in the BSB had plenty of reason to celebrate at Brands Hatch (GBR). Ian Hutchinson (GBR), Christian Iddon (GBR) and Adam Jenkinson (GBR) were successful in the Superbike and Superstock classes, claiming one victory and a total of five podium finishes. All riders registered for the 2017 BMW Motorrad Race Trophy collected more points for the standings in this worldwide competition.
FIM Endurance World Championship in Le Mans, France
For the BMW teams in the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) and the BMW Motorrad Motorsport engineers, a real classic was on the schedule this weekend: the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA). The iconic motorcycle race was held for the 40th time this year.
Five BMW teams tackled the endurance test with their BMW S 1000 RRs. The 40th edition of the race lived up to its reputation to be a tough challenge. The highest placed BMW team was GERT56 by rs speedbikes with riders Rico Löwe (GER), Didier Grams (GER) and Pedro Vallcaneras (ESP). The team overcame two crashes and achieved its goal to take the chequered flag in Le Mans: after 24 hours and 793 laps, the #56 RR crossed the line in 24th overall and 11th of the Superstock class (EWC STK). The French Tecmas Racing Team, that qualified a strong fourth on the grid, also experienced some setbacks over the course of the long race but reached the finish after 24 hours. Riders Kenny Foray, Matthieu Lussiana and Camille Hedelin (all FRA) were classified 28th overall and 14th of the Superbike class (EWC SBK).
Didier Grams: “It is always a goal to take the chequered flag and in a 24-hour race, it feels like a small victory. To keep the motivation so high after the two crashes and to keep going was a great achievement for the entire team. Our BMW S 1000 RR withstood the stresses of the 24 hours perfectly – such a race always means huge exertions for a bike. The team was fantastic and did an unbelievable job in repairing the bike after the crashes in such a short time. Every single team member gave it their all, there were no bitter words but everybody was just happy that we riders were unhurt and that we did not have to withdraw. When I crossed the finish line, I just thought: ‘Finally, finally!’ And then I really enjoyed the inlap back to the pits.”
Karsten Wolf (Team Principal GERT56 by rs speedbikes): “It is our second season as a permanent starter in the EWC, and over winter we had worked on improving the bike, our team and our structure. It all worked out pretty well at Le Mans. We had a good qualifying and in the race, we improved place by place, setting our sights on the points positions. Unfortunately, Didier had a crash on Saturday evening, we assume that he was hit from behind. The bike was seriously damaged, but the team only needed 18 minutes to repair the fuel tank, the airbox, the exhaust system, the fairing and so on.
We then started a catch up until Rico slid into the gravel. We again were able to repair the bike, the mechanics did a fantastic job. It was not an option to give up – the team spirit and the passion for what we do kept us going. With strong performances from the riders and a perfectly working bike we made our way up again position by position and when we saw the chequered flag, there was a big relief. P24 is not the best result but given how the race went for us, there was a lot of pride and satisfaction. This is really highly emotional. We are proud to be a part of the BMW family, the relation and the co-operation between the BMW teams within the EWC is awesome and the support of the BMW Motorrad Motorsport engineers is a big help.”
British Superbike Championship in Brands Hatch, Great Britain
The second round of the 2017 British Superbike Championship (BSB) was held on the short Indy Circuit at Brands Hatch (GBR) at the weekend. The two Superbike class (BSB SBK) races took place on Easter Monday – and they saw two more podium finishes for Tyco BMW rider Christian Iddon (GBR).
Iddon, who had enjoyed podium honours already at the season opener at Donington (GBR), was third in race one with his BMW S 1000 RR. In race two, he climbed one step higher on the rostrum – he came home in second, only 0.758 seconds behind the winner. Peter Hickman (GBR / Smiths Racing) was back on form in the races after a difficult qualifying and crossed the line in ninth and seventh respectively. Jakub Smrz (CZE / Lloyd & Jones PR Racing) also collected points in both heats by finishing in 14th and 15th. Iddon’s Tyco BMW team-mate Davide Giugliano (ITA) did not compete in the races after a big crash during qualifying.
Christian Iddon: “Really happy with the weekend. We had good pace even better than from the official test and really didn’t have to change anything too radical for the race weekend. We just refined the package as we went along. I was a little worried in qualifying as I wasn’t sure if we had one lap outright pace but I felt pretty confident all weekend – if we could get away with the leaders we could be on the podium. The first race was good and for the second race we made a slight change and it did improve things for me on the Tyco BMW S 1000 RR. We were even stronger and it has made me very happy. I know we got a podium at Donington, but we’ve made a big step forward at round two and the bike is so much easier to race. I’m really grateful for all the hard work from the team, so I’m excited about the upcoming rounds, especially Oulton next, which is my home round.”
Peter Hickman: “I was nowhere all weekend but on race day things started to come together and full credit to the team, they worked so hard and the changes we made helped to move me forward. During qualifying, it was really tough and I had to go well out of my comfort zone to do the lap times whereas on race day I was a lot happier. It still wasn’t easy but it was a lot better than before and to say I’m pleased with the outcome would be an understatement. I’ve done my best ever lap of the Indy circuit and have more points than I had after two rounds in 2016 so we can go away happy.”
In the Superstock class (BSB STK) two races were held, one on Sunday and one on Monday. In race one, Ian Hutchinson (GBR) was third with his Tyco BMW S 1000 RR. The second heat on Monday saw a fantastic battle with BMW riders at the very front. Hutchinson secured his first victory of the season and also set a new lap record with his RR. Just 0.076 seconds behind him, Adam Jenkinson (GBR / Northern Escalator Installations) crossed the line in second.
Ian Hutchinson: “I was struggling with my starts all weekend, which is something you can’t do on the Brands Indy circuit, so after race one when I let the leaders get away, I was determined to stay with them. Two former champions have come back into the class this year making it even stronger, so I was determined to prove I could mix it with them and win races, which we did on the Tyco BMW. This now sets us up well for Oulton Park and the upcoming international road races in May and June at the NW200 and TT.”