Digital Edition Subscribers: Read Roadracing World Magazine Now >   |   Win Cool Prizes: Take Our Reader Survey >
Roadracing World.com - An Online Service of Roadracing World Magazine
SHARE:
Sep 19, 2013

The Final Round Of Previews Of The 24 Hours Of Le Mans World Endurance Race

FIM Endurance World Championship: Jake Zemke (99) on the BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent S1000RR earlier this season.
Le Mans, France - 19 September 2013: BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent head into this weekend's 24 Heures Moto at Le Mans, the final round of the 2013 Endurance World Championship, with their sights set firmly on taking their first 24-hour race win.

Forced retirement from two of the four rounds this season, the Bol d'Or and Suzuka, means that the team are effectively out of the running for the championship title, despite a podium finish last time out at Oschersleben. Top five in the championship is still a possibility with a good result in Le Mans, but with the title out of their reach, a first 24-hour win for the team would be a fitting way in which to finish the season.

Experienced endurance campaigner, Sébastien Gimbert, will lead the charge this weekend, with the 36-year-old Frenchman joined on the #99 BMW S1000RR by fellow countryman Sylvain Barrier, Australian Josh Waters and American Jake Zemke.

Gimbert, Barrier and Zemke all have experience of the BMW S1000RR, but this weekend will be a baptism of fire for Waters, who will only throw a leg over the bike for the first time during free practice tomorrow. However, the 26-year-old Australian has plenty of endurance experience, most of which was gained on the same Michelin tyres he'll race this weekend.

Waters was a lucky find for BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent. With the 24 Heures Moto at Le Mans clashing with national Superbike events in Spain, Britain, Germany and Italy, many of the non-French teams have struggled to secure riders for this weekend's EWC season finale.

The 24 Heures Moto has been a highlight of the Le Mans calendar since the first running of the event back in 1978. The race will be contested by 56 teams and watched by an enthusiastic crowd more than 100,000 strong. Practice and qualifying begins on Thursday 19th September and continues into Friday, with the traditional "Le Mans" style start getting the race underway at 15H00 on Saturday 21st September.

Sébastien Gimbert:
"After the crashes at the Bol d'Or and Suzuka, the championship for us is out of reach. But, it is important to finish this season in the best way, and the best way for the team, for BMW, for Michelin and for my teammates and me is with a win. We don't need to be focussed on being the fastest on track in every session, or on pole position. We need to focus only on setting up the bike to give us the best chance of finishing the race. The bike is certainly up to the job. We have a new engine for this weekend, revised electronics and the team has made a lot of progress with the chassis since Oschersleben. We are as well prepared as we can be, and that brings confidence, but we can't forget that this is 24-hour racing and anything can happen. Our job as riders is to race hard, stay out of trouble, manage the changing weather conditions that are always a feature here at Le Mans and finish in the best position possible, preferably on the podium and, hopefully, on the top step."

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"Once again we will race with a different rider line up at Le Mans because this race, like all the other EWC rounds this season, clashes with almost every major national Superbike Championship in Europe. Because of this it's proved incredibly difficult for the non-French teams to secure good riders, which is a ridiculous situation for a World Championship to be in. More care needs to be taken with the calendar in future if EWC is to be taken seriously outside of France. But, we're here now and our bike, our tyres and our riders are all capable of pushing for the win here this weekend. Sébastien and Sylvain know the bike and tyres well, while Jake's familiarity with both is increasing. Josh is new to the team and to our BMW S1000RR, but he has the all-important experience on Michelin tyres, so I'm confident he'll be up to speed quickly. A win in the biggest race of the season, our first in a 24-hour race, would be some consolation for the team, for BMW and for Michelin, in what has been a difficult season."




More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:

Suzuki Endurance Racing Team will defend its World Endurance Championship crown at this weekend's final round at Le Mans in France without Anthony Delhalle after the French rider crashed in practice earlier this week and broke his leg in two places.

SERT Team Manager Dominique Meliand has drafted the team's fourth rider, Australian Alex Cudlin, into the main squad to support Vincent Philippe and Julien Da Costa on the Suzuki GSX-R1000 for the Le Mans 24 Hour event; where the current championship leaders aim for a 13th World Championship victory.

A total of 60 teams have entered the fourth and final round of the 2013 FIM World Endurance Championship with SERT holding a narrow 13-point lead over Monster Energy YART, who are fielding AMA Superbike rider Josh Hayes alongside regular riders Broc Parkes and Igor Jerman. And with more than 30 points available to the race winner, the title could be clinched by any of three teams; with Yamaha France GMT 94 in third place on 60 points.

The French Team R2CL Suzuki squad, currently joint fourth in the standings and in with a shot of the overall podium, has recruited Tyco Suzuki's International Road Racer Guy Martin into the team to ride the GSX-R1000 alongside Dylan Buisson, Gwen Giabbani and Jimmy Storrar.

Suzuki interest is also high in the Superstock class with just 11 points separating current series leaders Penz13.com Franks Autowelt BMW and the Suzuki-mounted Team Motors Events April Moto. But with Guillaume Dietrich back in the saddle of the Junior Team LMS Suzuki GSX-R1000, the title looks like going down to the wire.

First practice sessions start this afternoon (Thursday) with final qualifying taking place on Friday to determine the starting positions. Saturday's Le Mans 24-Hour gets underway 15:00hrs (GMT +2).




More, from a press release issued by BMW Motorrad HP RaceSupport:

EWC: BMW Motorrad HP RaceSupport ready for Le Mans.

Partner BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent has high expectations for the legendary 24-hour race – The Penz13.com Franks Autowelt Racing Team aims to defend the title in the Superstock class.

Le Mans/Munich, 19th September 2013. BMW Motorrad HP RaceSupport is ready for the big finale of the 2013 FIM Endurance World Championship, the legendary “24 Heures Moto” at Le Mans this weekend. The specialists from Munich are on site at the French track to directly support their partners. BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent aims for a top result in the Superbike class, ideally to take its first 24-hour race win with the #99 BMW S 1000 RR. The Penz13.com Franks Autowelt Racing Team meanwhile firmly sets its sights on defending the FIM World Endurance Superstock Cup title. The “24 Heures Moto” has been a highlight of the Le Mans calendar since the first running of the event back in 1978. The race will be contested by 56 teams and watched by an enthusiastic crowd more than 100,000 strong.

After a strong podium finish at the last round at Oschersleben (GER), BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent wants to finish the season in style at Le Mans. Experienced endurance campaigner, Sébastien Gimbert, will lead the charge this weekend, with the Frenchman joined on the #99 RR by fellow countryman Sylvain Barrier, Australian Josh Waters and American Jake Zemke. Gimbert, Barrier and Zemke all have experience of the RR, but this weekend will be a baptism of fire for Waters, who will race the bike for the first time at Le Mans. However, the Australian has plenty of endurance experience, most of which was gained on the same Michelin tyres he will race this weekend.

“It is important to finish this season in the best way, and the best way for the team, for BMW, for Michelin and for my teammates and me is with a win”, said Gimbert. “The bike is certainly up to the job. We have a new engine for this weekend, revised electronics and the team has made a lot of progress with the chassis since Oschersleben. We are as well prepared as we can be, and that brings confidence, but we can’t forget that this is 24-hour racing and anything can happen. Our job as riders is to race hard, stay out of trouble, manage the changing weather conditions that are always a feature here at Le Mans and finish in the best position possible, preferably on the podium and, hopefully, on the top step.”

“Our bike, our tyres and our riders are all capable of pushing for the win here this weekend”, confirmed Team Principal Michael Bartholemy. “Sébastien and Sylvain know the bike and tyres well, while Jake’s familiarity with both is increasing. Josh is new to the team and to our BMW S 1000 RR, but he has the all-important experience on Michelin tyres, so I'm confident he'll be up to speed quickly. A win in the biggest race of the season, our first in a 24-hour race, would be a great season finish for the team, for BMW and for Michelin.”

In the FIM World Endurance Superstock Cup, the Penz13.com Franks Autowelt Racing Team is well positioned to achieve its target of defending the title. The German squad of former racer Rico Penzkofer is leading the championship with 68 points and is having an advantage of 11 points. But it’s going to be a hard task during those 24 hours as the rivals are regular podium contenders and hard to beat. A quartet of international well-known riders will share duties on the #13 RR at Le Mans: Jason Pridmore (USA), Pedro Vallcaneras (ESP), Steve Mercer (GBR) and James Rispoli (USA/reserve rider).

“I think we can head confident into this weekend”, said Penzkofer. “Gordon Unger once more prepared the bike perfectly, the morale is high and also our four riders are feeling good. We are leading the championship by 11 points, but 24 hours are a quite long distance.”

“We all are looking forward to this weekend. Le Mans is always a great race, a real classic with grandstands full of enthusiastic fans”, commented Berthold Hauser, General Manager BMW Motorrad HP RaceSupport. “The BMW teams supported by our specialists did everything to be best prepared for the final round of the season. After the success we celebrated at Oschersleben, with BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent finishing on the overall podium and the Penz13.com Team winning the Superstock class, we kept working hard with the teams in order to further improve our strong package and to find the perfect solutions for the requirements of Le Mans. We are more than ready but we all know that 24-hour racing has its own rules. Everything can happen, especially if weather conditions play their part, too. We cross our fingers for our teams and hope that we all have reason to celebrate on Sunday afternoon.”