BMW Motorrad’s long road to the podium at Le Mans
The factory BMW team were one of the favourites at the 24 Heures Motos. Despite some technical problems, BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team finished third in the opening race of the FIM Endurance World Championship.
They were third on the starting grid and third at the finish, but in between those two positions the factory team BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team did not have an easy time of it.
After Markus Reiterberger got the holeshot, a crash on the 4th lap led the factory BMW M1000RR to drop back from the leading pack. But it wasn’t the crash that cost Werner Daemen’s team the most time. The BMW returned to the pits twice with a fuel intake problem.
“The crash cost us about 22 seconds,” says Steven Casaer, the technical director of BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team. “The fuel issues cost a total of 24 minutes. We lost all the power and initially thought it was traction control (hence the first stop), but that did not solve the issue. We then saw the bike was running very lean, although fuel pressure was OK. So we decided to change the whole fuel system. It turned out we had clogged injectors. We prepared another complete setup in case it would happen again. Which it did: after 7 hours we lost power again, and we re-changed the whole system. Again, the injectors were clogged. After that it was fine.”
Markus Reiterberger, Ilya Mikhalchik and Javier Forés then rode flat out to take the BMW back onto the podium. The BMW #37 posted the 3rd-fastest time of the race, a 1:36.855 lap completed by Ilya Mikhalchik at around 6 in the morning.
Their third place in the 24 Heures Motos enabled BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team to pick up 44 important championship points.
For the next race on 17 July, the 12 Hours of Estoril, the BMW team will field Markus Reiterberger, Javier Forés and Kenny Foray. “Ilya will be away competing in a German IDM championship race,” says Steven Casaer. “So Kenny will round off the trio. That’s the advantage of having 4 riders of the same level on the team.”