Suzuka. BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team impressed with a strong performance in their first appearance at the famous Suzuka 8 Hours (JPN) but went unrewarded. In the first half of the race, Markus Reiterberger (GER), Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR) and Jeremy Guarnoni (FRA) on the #37 BMW M 1000 RR did battle for a very good result but after nearly four hours, a technical failure forced the team to retire from the race for safety reasons. Suzuka was the third event of the season in the 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship (FIM EWC).
Up until the retirement, the race week at Suzuka had been going well for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team. Team manager Werner Daemen's crew, who were contesting the iconic race for the first time, held their ground as the only works team of a European manufacturer in the strong field of numerous Japanese teams. In the combined results of Friday's qualifying sessions the team finished in sixth place to secure one of the coveted spots in the top ten qualifying on Saturday. During this session, in which the first ten positions on the grid were awarded, BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team focussed on preparing for the race and qualified in ninth place on the starting grid.
As in the previous days, high temperatures and high humidity made the race a physical challenge for riders and teams but starting rider Mikhalchik, Reiterberger and Guarnoni delivered a flawless performance. The team's efforts in the pit stops were also flawless, and the strategy was a good one that allowed the team to set themselves the goal of a top five or six finish, which would have been a very good result for a European team at Suzuka. After nearly four hours however, Mikhalchik initially rolled to the side of the track before he could push the bike a bit and then ride back to the pits. Due to an engine failure in the cooling circuit area, the team had to retire from the race.
BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team is now focussing on the season finale of the 2022 FIM EWC, the 24-hour race Bol d'Or at Le Castellet (FRA) from 15th to 18th September.
Quotes after of the Suzuka 8 Hours.
Werner Daemen, Team Manager BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team: "It is difficult to express just how disappointed I am. The entire team, especially the riders, did a very good job. It has not been easy for us here because we had never been here and had never tested here before. We made it into the top ten qualifying and performed very well in difficult conditions over all these days. In the race, we had a very good start. Ilya moved up into fifth straight away and he, Markus and Jeremy were running well over the first hours. But then we encountered this technical failure and I hope that we can find the cause very soon together with BMW so that this will not happen again."
Markus Reiterberger: "We started well into the race. Ilya had a great start I was able to continue with a good stint. We have always been within the top five and top eight so we set ourselves the goal to finish between the first five to seven places. This would have been realistic, we could have got a strong result. It was a pity to then have the technical issue. The team and us riders have worked so hard for this race and have to travel home now with empty hands. That was really frustrating. Thanks to the team for the great commitment and efforts."
Ilya Mikhalchik: "Of course it is pretty frustrating to end the race this way. We have been in a quite good position and it was possible to finish with a really strong result. But then we had the technical issue. It is like it is, and for sure it is good to have gathered some more data and we again have made steps on the bike for the next races. We will fight again. In general, it was good to see the progress on the bike over the weekend, without not having any tests here before. Also the Dunlop tyres worked well and we have always been in the top ten and rode lap times like the guys on other tyres. This gives us confidence. We will now leave the disappointment behind us and focus on the next one."
Jeremy Guarnoni: "I am really disappointed with this result. We did a very good job over the entire week with a big effort from the team and riders and I think we really did everything perfectly during the weekend. During the race we then had a technical issue that is not under control of the team. We hope that this problem can be solved for the next races and that we can fight at the 24 hours at the Bol d'Or. I think we can fight for the win there. So a big thank you to the team, to all mechanics, team management and riders, because we did a great weekend here."