- Judith Pieper-Köhler
Precious metal for Reiti and the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team in Le Mans
The 44th edition of the 24 Heures Motos at the Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans ended after 24 hours at noon today. The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team started the 2021 season of the FIM Endurance World Championship (FIM EWC) with a podium finish. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA) Markus Reiterberger (GER), Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR) and Xavi Forés (ESP) secured the third place onboard of the new #37 BMW M 1000 RR with a terrific catch up race.
Werner Daemen's team had already taken third place in the qualifying. When the long-distance classic began on Saturday at 12 noon CEST, Reiterberger got off to a perfect start: He immediately took the lead. But shortly afterwards, the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team suffered a major set-back. A problem with the fuel system resulted in several unplanned pit stops. The team fell back to a seemingly forlorn 43rd place, many laps behind the leaders. But they showed a great fighting spirit, and the three riders impressed with a thrilling performance on the M RR. Fast lap times allowed them to gradually work their way back towards the front of the field, one position at a time. By the halfway point at midnight, the #37 was already back in fifth place. Shortly after that, Mikhalchik climbed into fourth place. On Sunday morning, the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team found itself third and on course for a podium finish. They remained in that position until Forés brought the #37 BMW M 1000 RR home in third place after 24 hours of racing. It was a tough long race for Reiti and his Spanish and Ukrainian colleagues. The race to catch up, however, was eye candy for everyone who followed the race. After the problems at the beginning, nobody had expected such an outcome, especially not a podium place. Once again, the Bavarian and his manager Werner Daemen's Belgian team have shown what they're made of. It will certainly take a few days of rest to realize what they have actually achieved.
The next event in the endurance world championship, the 12 hour race in Estoril, Portugal, will take place on July 17th.
Markus Reiterberger: “I felt very honoured to ride at the start. Even walking to the bike was good, and when I pulled away it was really good. I really tried not to let the tyres cool and to save fuel but the tyres were still not right up to temperature, which really surprised me, as it was really hot. The front wheel ultimately folded in on me in the penultimate corner and I skidded into the gravel. I then did two more laps on the damaged bike, but then had to come into the pits. I feel sorry for the whole team that I made this mistake. In the end, the crash was not that bad. The main problem was the technical issues. Once those had been resolved, we were basically flawless for the rest of the 24 hours. I would like to thank the whole team for their hard work, and my team-mates for persevering so valiantly.”