May 26th, 2023
With the clock ticking down to the start of the second 24H SPA EWC Motos (16-18 June), the 2022 race-winning trio of Jérémy Guarnoni, Illya Mykhalchyk and Markus Reiterberger have been looking back on BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team’s standout triumph of last year.
The Belgian squad started its home round of the FIM Endurance World Championship in early June 2022 determined to hit back after it retired from the Le Mans season opener the previous April. And with the EWC returning to the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for the first time in 21 years, there was no better moment to push for a first 24-hour race victory.
But as well as the efforts of riders Guarnoni, Mykhalchyk and Reiterberger, BMW’s success owed plenty to the expertise of the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team led by former competitor Werner Daemen, plus the reliability of the Dunlop-equipped BMW M1000RR.
Following a battle for the lead between Mykhalchyk and YART Yamaha’s Marvin Fritz, however, it was the Japanese marque in front after 18 hours. But its advantage would not last when the #7 YZF-R1, with Fritz’s team-mate Niccolò Canepa onboard, suffered engine failure and retired, leaving BMW to claim its first win in an EWC-counting 24-hour race and follow up on its maiden triumph in the championship in the 6 Hours of Most in October 2021.
Guarnoni, who was tasked with completing the Spa race, which was restarted in wet conditions following a lengthy suspension due to an oil spill on track, clearly remembers the moment when he took the chequered flag riding the #37 BMW.
“It was my first year with BMW and I know they had never won a [24-hour race in EWC] so it was quite emotional for them and me also, but in Spa for a Belgium team it was top,” said Frenchman Guarnoni. “I remember when our crew chief told me, ‘you have to finish the race’, but in the rain and with only 28 minutes to go it was quite stressful but good pressure. I said to my crew chief, ‘you see with me you are going to win a 24 hour’ and it happened so my prediction [came true].”
Of his battle for the lead with Fritz, Ukraine rider Mykhalchyk said: “It was a really nice battle with Marvin. We had a few battles in the past in IDM and one race I won and one race he beat me. This was the third time fighting and it was really nice. I was enjoying the riding and this clever overtaking from each one. It was special because we win at the home track of the team. After the bad luck at Le Mans we won our first 24-hour race and proved our team worked.”
Reiterberger was on the #37 when BMW won the 6 Hours of Most by 0.070s in the closest finish in EWC history. But a first victory in an FIM Endurance World Championship-counting 24-hour race was a “special moment” for the German.
“It was a very special moment,” said Reiterberger. “For sure it was difficult especially in the end with the weather conditions. I was very proud and happy to win my first 24-hour race together with my team-mates. But this victory belonged to the team because they worked their asses off for the last few years and they deserved to win this race. Maybe we were not the fastest but we made no mistakes and the technical [side] was working well.”
Werner Daemen said leading the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team to victory in his home round of the EWC was a “dream come true”. The successful FIM Endurance World Championship rider turned team boss said: “The race was incredible. The first hour was like a superbike sprint and really exciting for the nerves. And the rest of the race, the guys did a very good job. I think we are the only team that did not make any mistakes. We were maybe not the fastest, but we made no mistakes and in endurance that pays off in the end.
“We went with a gap of eight laps into the final minutes. It is a dream that has come true. As a Belgian guy who said 20 years ago ‘once I will come back to win’ that is a dream. This is something that nobody can take away from us. A big thank you to the team, to BMW and all our partners and sponsors who made this possible. Without them, you cannot race. And also especially to the riders who did an incredible job.”
TICKETS ON SALE
Ticket packages to suit a wide range of budgets and requirements are on sale for the second running of the 24H SPA EWC Motos via the dedicated section at www.24hspamotos.com. They include a three-day admission ticket currently available at an advance price of €79, a Friday-only ticket for €40 and a Sunday-only ticket for the same price. Children under the age of 16 are admitted free. As well as Fan Zone access, the three-day ticket and Friday ticket include paddock and grandstand access, access to the spectator terracing and banking, a meet the riders area and a pitlane walk. There are also various VIP hospitality packages for sale, while camping facilities are being provided at two sites around the circuit.
KEY TIMINGS RECAP:
Friday 16 June:
10h00-11h00, Free Practice
12h00-14h00, First Qualifying
15h15-17h15, Second Qualifying
21h00-23h00, Night Practice
Saturday 17 June:
14h00, Start of 24H SPA EWC Motos
May 8th, 2023
With less than 40 days to go until the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium hosts the second running of the 24H SPA EWC Motos, here’s a reminder of what happened when the FIM Endurance World Championship riders thrilled the fans last June.
There was non-stop action and drama when the FIM Endurance World Championship returned to Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for the first time in 21 years as the Belgian track delivered a race that matched up to its legendary status.
While BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team celebrated a maiden 24-hour EWC victory to follow up its breakthrough success in the six-hour 2021 season decider, the circuit’s ultra-challenging nature and rain for the final five hours combined to ensure rider skill came very much to the fore in the 24H SPA EWC Motos.
As well as the efforts of riders Jérémy Guarnoni (France), Illya Mykhalchyk (Ukraine) and Markus Reiterberger (Germany), BMW’s success owed plenty to the expertise of its Belgium-based team, led by former rider Werner Daemen, and the reliability of the Dunlop-equipped BMW M1000RR.
Kawasaki-powered and Pirelli-equipped Tati Team Beringer Racing excelled to finish as the top independent team in second overall with newcomer Loïc Arbel joining forces with existing French riders Grégory Leblanc and Alan Techer.
F.C.C. TSR Honda France was holding off Yoshimura SERT Motul for the final podium spot as both squads battled back from major setbacks during the night. A lengthy red flag period to enable the clean-up of a substantial oil spillage with less than three hours meant Gino Rea would have only a handful of laps to reclaim the third place he lost to home hero Xavier Siméon in the pitstop sequence prior to the race suspension.
Despite the challenging track conditions, Rea and Siméon engaged in an intense battle for third place with Rea coming out on top following several changes of position.
Yoshimura SERT Motul had been on top after 10 hours only for Sylvain Guintoli to be forced to pit for a replacement clutch and gearbox for his Bridgestone-equipped Suzuki GSX-R1000R. The work took more than 25 minutes to complete and wrecked hopes of a home win for the team’s Belgian rider Siméon in the process.
F.C.C. TSR Honda France took advantage of the misfortune that hit its fellow Japanese team but there was despair when Rea was onboard the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP as the chain failed after 15 hours of running. It left the Briton with no choice but to push his stricken bike back to the pits. That long delay plus the 15 minutes spent making repairs dropped F.C.C. TSR Honda France down the order before its late comeback.
Worse was to come for both squads when Anglo-Frenchman Gregg Black and Mike Di Meglio, from France, crashed their Suzuki and Honda respectively in quick succession as the Sunday morning rain intensified. Black managed to limp his wrecked machine back to the pits for rapid repairs while Di Meglio was able to continue without stopping having only inflicted limited damage to his bike.
Having started from pole, YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC was forced into an unscheduled pit stop for a replacement speed sensor after three hours. Despite the delay of more than four minutes, the performances of its riders Niccolò Canepa (Italy), Marvin Fritz (Germany) and polesitter Karel Hanika (Czech Republic) put the Austrian team back into contention. Following a battle for the lead between Fritz and BMW rider Mykhalchyk, it was the Japanese marque in front after 18 hours. But the advantage would not last when the YZF-R1, with Canepa onboard, suffered engine failure.
Elsewhere, Wójcik Racing Team EWC 77 completed the top five followed by Viltaïs Racing Igol and Team Moto Ain, which overcame an overheating issue. Team LH Racing claimed Dunlop Superstock Trophy and FIM Endurance World Cup honours in eighth overall with riders Enzo de la Vega, Johan Nigon and Lukas Trautmann. It finished ahead of Team Bolliger Switzerland and Team LRP Poland following a late change of positions between the latter pair.
Team 33 Louit April Moto had led the Superstock category but lost out on glory when Kevin Calia crashed in wet conditions with his Kawasaki suffering a blown engine in the process. Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motobase had been second at the time but appeared to be in trouble when Baptiste Guittet was one of several drivers to crash at Les Combes. However, the French outfit managed to hold onto its second place ahead of OG Motorsport by Sarazin, which suffered with traction issues.
National Motos was in the fight for first when it retired after a stone damaged the Honda’s radiator and caused the engine to overheat. Two unscheduled pit stops for “technical issues” hit the No Limits Motor Team’s chances, which were further compromised when Stefan Hill crashed just before eight hours.
Danny Webb suffered a fall early into his first stint on the Superstock pole-sitting Wójcik Racing Team STK 777 Yamaha, which was also delayed by an accident for Marek Szkopek. BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers dropped out of contention following a spate of delays. A crash for 3ART Best of Bike during the early hours of this morning led to a second safety car period after an accident for the JMA Racing Action Bike close to five hours had resulted in the first safety car. Despite the JMA team’s Suzuki catching fire, exhaustive repairs enabled the squad to continue. Falcon Racing was denied a strong result by a blown engine, but Pitlane Endurance, Team Aviobike, RAC 41 ChromeBurner and Énergie Endurance finished in the top 20 among the eligible teams. TRT 27 / Bazar 2 La Bécane, Team 202 and ADSS 97 all finished, as did Formula EWC outfit Motobox Kremer Racing.
There was early heartache for Webike SRC Kawasaki France with Randy de Puniet crashing out shortly after two and a half hours of racing. After Florian Marino had led the pack into La Source for the first time and was part of the five-way fight for first during the opening hour, hopes of a strong result unravelled when Marino fell following contact at the chicane nearing the end of his stint. More than three minutes were lost while repairs were made to the ZX 10R before Etienne Masson could begin his stint, which was hampered when he also fell at the chicane due to brake issues. It led to a six-minute delay before de Puniet’s crash compounded a miserable afternoon. Marino, meanwhile, was taken to hospital for checks following his fall.
ERC Endurance-Ducati suffered an early setback when the German squad was forced to make an unscheduled stop due to a fuel pump issue, which followed a slow start from Xavi Forès. However, with the problem returning during the night the team was forced to retire.
The second running of the 24H SPA EWC Motos takes place from 16-18 June.
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