Markus Reiterberger, Ilya Mikhalchik and Jérémy Guarnoni prove unbeatable in difficult conditions at the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race.
First win for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team in a 24-hour race.
Marc Bongers: “It is just wonderful to be rewarded with a win on an absolutely faultless weekend”.
Spa-Francorchamps. It is a dream that has come true. The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team has won the 24H SPA EWC Motos. After 24 sometimes dramatic hours on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (BEL), the #37 BMW M 1000 RR crossed the finish line with a big lead to claim victory. The key to success was faultless performance from riders Markus Reiterberger (GER), Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR) and Jérémy Guarnoni (FRA) and the perfectly functioning team led by manager Werner Daemen (BEL). Victory at the home race was also the first win for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team in a FIM Endurance World Championship (FIM EWC) 24-hour race. In addition, it is the first 24-hour race victory for a European manufacturer since 1971. In the qualifying sessions on Thursday and Friday, the team with Reiterberger, Mikhalchik, Guarnoni and Kenny Foray (FRA) as the fourth rider secured second place on the grid, a good start position for the Ardennes Rollercoaster. As the race got going, it was clear that the #37 BMW M 1000 RR was one of the favourites. Reiterberger, Mikhalchik and Guarnoni were battling at the front, claiming first place several times, and never dropped out of the top three before making a final move into the top spot during the night. The race took place in dry, summery conditions up to the morning when events took a turn. The rain arrived around eight o’clock and track conditions became more than treacherous. While some of their competitors took a tumble the riders for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team did not take any unnecessary risks. They had built up a large lead by the time the race was interrupted due to a massive oil slick on the track after around 21 hours. After a break of two and a half hours, the race restarted for just 15 minutes – in heavy rain. The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team never looked likely to surrender the victory, and tension gave way to boundless celebrations in the pits at 13:00 local time. Markus Reiterberger: “I am unbelievably happy. Preparations for the race were great, with really good testing. We knew how strong we are. I was able to battle away really well at the front in my stints, as our bike has proper straight-line power but is still very economical. We just tried to maintain a consistent pace and avoid making any errors, hoping that nothing would break. We achieved all of that, while everyone else fell, made mistakes or suffered technical problems. Our team managed it all superbly and the riders did a good job. I think that the entire team, BMW and everyone else involved have earned this victory. It is our first 24-hour race win, with a Belgian team manager, in Belgium, on such a fantastic circuit. And it was thrilling right to the finish, with some breathtaking final minutes. But we did it, and I would like to thank BMW and the team for ensuring that everything went as well as it did.”