- Judith Pieper-Köhler
Emotions-packed 24 hours
It was a very eventful week for Markus Reiterberger at the most legendary motorsports event in France, the Le Mans 24-hour race. Due to the current Corona travel restrictions, the Bavarian had decided to drive his bus to Le Mans and arrived at the Bugatti circuit on Tuesday afternoon after a long journey.
As part of the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, Reiterberger contested the "24 Heures Motos" together with his teammates Kenny Foray (FRA) and Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR) and the three of them took turns in training, qualifying and the race. From Wednesday to Friday they still had prominent support from road racing star Peter Hickmann, the fastest road racer in the world. He arrived by train from England to give Reiti and the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team a helping hand with his expertise. Unofficial training sessions took place on Wednesday and Thursday. From Thursday it was all about it. The team finished almost all trainings and qualifications on positions in the top two. The Obinger finished QP2 at the top of the time sheets and helped his team to achieve second place on the grid for the 24-hour race, which began on Saturday at 12:00 with the traditional starting ceremony.
The stints at night and in the rain were probably the toughest for the 26-year-old, and every now and then he reached his limits. Reiti and his two teammates fought bravely alternately through the sometimes very uncomfortable night and were in fifth position until shortly before the end, when teammate Ilya crashed due to a small mistake. Markus Reiterberger is very disappointed that the team now has to travel home without points after such good pre-event tests and the results of the entire race week. He's the more looking forward to the next outing on September 27th in Portugal, where the team will complete the season finale, the 12-hour race in Estoril.
Markus Reiterberger: “We came here with very high expectations. In July we had an excellent test on the Le Mans race track, with fast lap times, economical fuel consumption and a really good crew. We were able to improve and speed everything up with various pit stop tests right up to the event. I would like to thank my team very much for this hard work and also thank everyone who made it possible for this event to take place under the current restrictions.
The trainings and qualifications this week were rather mixed in terms of the weather. Nevertheless, I am highly motivated and started the race with a clear goal in mind. After the start of the 24-hour race, we were even in the lead for a short time. But then it started to rain and Kenny had a small crash. That set us back a bit. But since that was pretty early on, we had time to catch up. We did a really good job and everyone delivered easily. We were focused on our stints and I also had some very fast lap times during the night. But it wasn't easy to get close to the guys in front of us. We had really good pace, but we couldn't catch up any more. We would have been very happy with fifth place. I made sure to bring the bike home safely in the end. There was nothing to be done forwards or backwards anyway. Unfortunately, Ilya made a mistake on his last stint and he crashed so badly that we couldn't get the bike to the finish. Of course Ilya didn't do it on purpose, but to have to return home empty-handed so close to the end is very frustrating. In this race we had everything with us that is always told about the endurance races - changing weather conditions, spectacular crashes and safety car phases - just everything. Nevertheless, my team gave all this week and delivered a top job and I think it's a shame that we couldn't be rewarded for it. I would like to thank my team, my sponsors, my fans, friends and family for their hard work and for the fact that they kept their fingers crossed again this time and supported us from afar."