World Endurance: BMW Motorrad Team Looking To Repeat At Spa 24-Hour

World Endurance: BMW Motorrad Team Looking To Repeat At Spa 24-Hour

© 2023, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By FIM EWC:

EVENT PREVIEW: SPECTACULAR SPA TO CHALLENGE EWC HEROES BY DAY AND BY NIGHT

*All-action FIM EWC season continues with second edition of 24H SPA EWC Motos

*Legendary Belgian track to provide a tough test for rider and machine

*36 permanent EWC teams set for FIM Endurance World Championship glory chase

*Dunlop Superstock Trophy adds to the exciting twice round-the-clock spectacle

International motorcycle racing’s ultimate rollercoaster contest is about to get under way with Belgium’s legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps gearing up to host round two of the FIM Endurance World Championship, the 24H SPA Motos, from tomorrow (Friday) until Sunday.

Reviving the spirit of the famous 24 Heures de Liège, which was part of the EWC up until 2001, the second edition of the 24H SPA EWC Motos is hotly anticipated following on from the action-packed season-opening 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans in April.

It’s also an event with a formidable reputation as riders race flat out on the 6.985-kilometre undulating track by day and by night with the prospect of changeable weather conditions always a factor at the venue, which is also home to the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix.

Viewers in 196 countries will be treated to spectacular coverage from the 24H SPA EWC Motos, one of the most exciting races in two-wheel motorsport, with live action available in 75 countries. Fans travelling to Spa can also look forward to three days of epic entertainment both on and off the track.

THE EWC STARS ASSEMBLING IN THE ARDENNES HOPING FOR A SPA BREAK

The second edition of the 24H SPA EWC Motos will be contested by some of the best riders in the business. Thirty-seven teams have entered with world champions, national title winners, riders with MotoGP and World Superbike experience, plus young stars aiming for the top in the EWC all set to take part. Here’s a summary of just some of the entry highlights.

Take two for BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team?

After winning the inaugural 24H SPA EWC Motos in June 2022, Belgian squad BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team is preparing to push for a victory double under the guidance of formidable ex-racer Werner Daemen. Riders Jérémy Guarnoni, Illya Mykhalchyk and Markus Reiterberger will be aiming to keep the #37 BMW at the top of the timesheets.

World champions on a roll 

Having won the season-opening 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans, F.C.C. TSR Honda France is on a roll heading to Spa where it placed third in 2022 following a heroic final stint from Gino Rea. While the Briton won’t be in action this year as he continues his recovery from serious injury, the combination of Mike Di Meglio, Josh Hook and Alan Techer provide a potent threat.

Leblanc brings podium pedigree to Team Kawasaki Webike Trickstar

Part of the TATI Team Beringer Racing line-up that finished second overall at Spa 12 months ago, Grégory Leblanc is a new addition to the Team Kawasaki Webike Trickstar attack, which also includes Randy de Puniet and Spa rookie Kazuki Watanabe. Meanwhile, Spaniard Román Ramos takes Leblanc’s place on the #4 Kawasaki alongside Hugo Clere and Baptiste Guittet, part of the 2022 FIM Endurance World Cup-winning Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers Motostore squad.

Rivals eye Spa revenge

YART Yamaha and Yoshimura SERT Motul both have scores to settle at Spa. The Austrian YART team was leading in 2022 when engine failure spelt retirement on the final morning, while its Suzuki-powered rival lost out on a podium place during a thrilling late-race battle.

Home heroes on show
Belgium-based KM99 launched its EWC attack to the world ahead of last year’s 24H SPA EWC Motos. Now it’s preparing to put on a show for real with local rider Bastien Mackels finally getting the chance to compete at home in the EWC after injury ruled him out last season.

Inspired by past glories

Team Bolliger Switzerland’s Kevin Bolliger “grew up in the Spa paddock” watching his father Hanspeter competing in the 24 Heures de Liège, Belgium’s previous EWC fixture and the inspiration behind the 24H SPA EWC Motos. The Kawasaki squad is one of the leading privateer outfits preparing for action along with Yamaha-powered Moto Ain and Wójcik Racing Team, which welcomes back Sheridan Morais to its Formula EWC attack following injury. Honda Viltaïs Racing completed the 2022 EWC season with victory in the Bol d’Or and will look to Spa to build on its fine fourth place finish in April’s 24 Heures Motos, where ERC Endurance Ducati, Maco Racing, Motobox Kremer Racing and Team LRP Poland also scored important points. They will all be targeting more success at Spa where Mana’au Compétition soutient la Ligue contre le cancer will be a new permanent EWC team.

Superstock superstars

Headed by Le Mans-winning Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team, the Dunlop Superstock Trophy contingent also features ADSS 97, Chromeburner RAC41 Honda, Honda No Limits, National Motos Honda, Pitlane Endurance and Slider Endurance.

OG Motorsport World Endurance Team welcomes back Camille Hedelin to its ranks, while Gabriel Pons is returning to Team 33 Louit April Moto, which led in Spa last season.

Two-time Supermoto world champion Marc Reiner-Schmidt comes in for the injured Marco Fetz at Energie Endurance where Sander Claessen is a new recruit for Spa. An injury sustained in the Isle of Man TT Races recently has ruled out Matthieu Lagrive, leading to 3ART Best of Bike calling up Alex Plancassagne as his replacement.

Aviobike, Holland Motorstore Racing, JMA Racing Action Bike, Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers Motostore, Team 202, TRT Bazar 2 la Bécane, Uniserv Moto82 Team and Wójcik Racing Team will also be in contention for Dunlop Superstock Trophy honours along with Team Racing 85.

PROVISIONAL TIMETABLE:

Key FIM EWC timings are as follows:

Friday 16 June:

10h00-11h00: Free Practice

12h00-14h00: First Qualifying

15h15-17h15: Second Qualifying

17h30-18h00: Post-qualifying press conference (Room 132)

19h45-20h45: Pitwalk and autograph session

21h30-23h00: Night Practice

Saturday 17 June:

11h30-12h30: Pitwalk and autograph session

13h00: Pitlane open

13h20: Pitlane closed

14h00: Start of 24H SPA EWC Motos

Sunday 18 June:

14h00: Finish of 24H SPA EWC Motos

14h10: Podium ceremony

14h30: Post-race press conference (Room 132)

LIVE TIMING: https://www.its-live.net/#/live/ewc/2023/24hspa

24H SPA EWC MOTOS IN 100 WORDS:

A track as legendary as it is demanding hosted international-level motorbike racing for the first time since 2001 when the 24H SPA EWC Motos revived the spirit of the 24 Heures de Liège, once an EWC calendar mainstay, in June 2022. The iconic circuit underwent extensive safety upgrades mandated by FIM and FMB specifically for the EWC’s return with the 6.985-kilometre layout – the longest of the season – featuring expanded run-off areas, the repositioning of safety barriers, plus the realignment of Turn 9 for bike use only. Belgium-based BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team came out on top of a rain-hit race.

24H SPA EWC MOTOS FAST FACTS:

*The 24H SPA EWC Motos recreated the spirit of the famous 24 Heures de Liège, which counted as a round of the EWC up until 2001, when it ran for the first time in June 2022.

*It took place on a track upgraded specifically for the EWC as part of an investment programme costing 25 million euros.

*The return of the EWC to Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps was first discussed in 2015, shortly after Discovery Sports Events (formerly Eurosport Events) became championship promoter as part of a long-term agreement with governing body, FIM.

*At 6.985 kilometres, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is the longest on the EWC calendar.

*Appointed as the event coordination agency for the first 24H SPA EWC Motos in June 2022, PHA Claude Michy was named local event promoter for a nine-year period in September 2022, in addition to continuing its existing responsibilities associated with organising the event.

24H SPA EWC MOTOS ESSENTIALS:

WHERE: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

LOCATION: Rte du Circuit 55, 4970 Stavelot, Belgium

WHEN: 16-18 June 2023

TRACK LENGTH: 6.985 kilometres

RACE DISTANCE: 24 hours

QUALIFYING LAP RECORD:

YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC – Karel Hanika, 2m18.845s, 2022

RACE LAP RECORD:

Yoshimura SERT Motul – Sylvain Guintoli, 2m21.056s, 2022

RECENT WINNERS:

2022: BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team (Markus Reiterberger, Illya Mykhalchyk, Jérémy Guarnoni), 508 laps

EXPERT VIEW BY BASTIEN MACKELS, KM99

“I know Spa really well but every time on the first day when you come back to Spa the circuit is so fast that you have to let one day for your brain to understand how fast is it, how faster is it compared to all the other tracks you have in Europe and even in the world. Of course we have to be patient and really concentrated on every corner, every lap of the track. We have to manage the speed on this track because it’s so much more faster than, let’s say, Le Mans. But it’s still not enough because the track allows you to go even faster so you have to learn lap after lap and get focused. It looks not so physical but you spend so much time in the long corners, left, right that it asks a lot from your body. There’s no question that Raidillon is the best corner in the world. Every rider who comes to Spa wants to try this corner. I can’t wait to be in the first lap because the first lap in Spa when you go full in fifth, this corner is amazing, you cannot compare this feeling. The compression in the corner is really incredible, I love it so much and every lap you are waiting for this corner. Full in fifth gear it will be something like 265kph with the slowest point around 200kph, amazing. In Spa the weather is even more difficult because the track is so big. In the past I remember it being dry in the paddock but wet and rainy on the other side of the track so it’s something you must be focused on. If you see a cloud coming you really have to take care about that because it’s possible that it’s raining on one side but not the other side. But in every endurance race you have to be really concentrated on the weather because it’s easy to make a mistake. If I knew something special about the weather I would keep it for me but it’s not really like that! I remember once we had hailstones and you could see these balls of ice jumping on the track, we were braking but we could see these balls of ice in the last chicane, it was really unbelievable. You really can have everything and maybe two weeks later it could be 35 degrees and you cannot breathe.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by BMW Motorrad Motorsport:

24H SPA EWC Motos: BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team extra motivated ahead of FIM EWC home round.

  • Round two of the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship.
  • After last year’s historic victory, Markus Reiterberger, Ilya Mikhalchik and Jérémy Guarnoni now compete with the new #37 BMW M 1000 RR in the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race.
  • Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team ready for its first outing in the Ardennes, following its Superstock win at Le Mans.

Spa-Francorchamps. The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team is returning to the scene of its greatest success to date. This weekend, the 24H SPA EWC Motos (BEL) forms round two of the FIM Endurance World Championship 2023 (FIM EWC). Last year, the team and its riders Markus Reiterberger (GER), Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR) and Jérémy Guarnoni (FRA) claimed a historic victory in the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps. The success at the team’s home event was not only the first win in a 24-hour race for Werner Daemen’s (BEL) outfit, but also the first time a European manufacturer had won over this distance for several decades. All set for its first appearance at the event is the Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team. They start in the Superstock class of the FIM EWC and are making their debut on the Ardennes rollercoaster at Spa-Francorchamps.

This season, the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team is running the new version of the BMW M 1000 RR. The three regular riders – Reiterberger, Mikhalchik and Guarnoni – immediately finished on the podium in the first race with the new bike when the trio came home third on the #37 M RR at the opening round of the 2023 season, the 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA) in mid-April. The team is now extremely motivated ahead of the second race of the season at the iconic racetrack, which is just a one-hour drive from the Belgian team’s base. The fourth rider at Spa-Francorchamps is Vincent Lonbois (BEL). Over the course of his career, the 32-year-old has spent many years riding BMW motorcycles at racetracks and on the road racing scene. In 2016, he was crowned champion in the International Road Racing Championship (IRRC) with the BMW S 1000 RR. He also finished runner-up in the BMW Motorrad Race Trophy in the same year.

The new Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team, in which the French Tecmas Racing Team and its owner Arnaud Sassone (FRA) is collaborating with Werner Daemen’s company Motorcycle Racing Parts and BMW Motorrad Motorsport, made a dream start to its debut season in the FIM EWC at Le Mans. Kenny Foray (FRA), Jan Bühn (GER) and Loïc Arbel (FRA) took victory in the Superstock class with the #9 BMW M 1000 RR. The team is now entering uncharted territory at Spa-Francorchamps. Although the Tecmas Racing Team has contested individual races in the FIM EWC in the past, it did not start the 24H SPA EWC Motos last year.

The race weekend at Spa-Francorchamps begins with free practice on Friday morning. The grid positions will then be determined in the two-part qualifying on Friday afternoon. The race itself gets underway on Saturday at 14:00 (CEST). As well as the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team and the Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team, private BMW outfit Team LRP Poland also competes at the 24H SPA EWC Motos.

Quotes ahead of the 24H SPA EWC Motos.

Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “It goes without saying that last year’s fantastic victory remains a memorable one. We are now back in the Ardennes to face this special challenge again. We have shown that we can be successful at the home circuit for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, and are obviously hoping for a similar result this year. The current season got off to a successful start with the new BMW M 1000 RR at Le Mans, with third place overall for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team and the debut victory in the Superstock class for the Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team. We now travel to Spa-Francorchamps well prepared. The law of any 24-hour race obviously also applies here – namely that anything can happen. However, as far as the riders, teams and machinery are concerned, we are well prepared and very confident ahead of the weekend.“

Werner Daemen, Team Manager BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team: “We are expecting a hot week at Spa–Francorchamps. The weather forecast is perfect. Last week, we had a successful pre-test. I was a little bit worried about the weather but the new BMW M 1000 RR also looks very good in hot conditions this year. So I think that we are well prepared for defending our good result from last year and hopefully we also have the necessary luck.”

Markus Reiterberger: “Spa-Francorchamps is the home event for our team, and it is practically the home race for us too. Spa is a really great racetrack, and we have very fond memories of the circuit after last year’s victory. We completed a two-day function test there at a hobby event, during which we gained our first impressions of the new bike at this track. We now continue with the final tests, in which we will work on the fine-tuning. As a team, I believe we are better positioned than ever. We are ready. We want to at least finish on the podium, but would obviously prefer to win. That is the goal we have set ourselves. The weather forecast is good, the team is super. There is nothing to stop us being successful, and we will do everything we can to make that the case.”

Ilya Mikhalchik: “I am looking forward to a great race weekend at Spa on a beautiful track. I can’t wait to get back there with our new beautiful bike. Let’s hope for a good weekend and to enjoy riding our BMW M 1000 RR there. We want to show good speed over the entire weekend and to do a good job during the race. It would be great to finish the race on Sunday with a strong result.”

Jérémy Guarnoni: “The target for Spa is clear; like always, we want to win. We know that it is a track we are really fast on. Last year we won there, so obviously the goal is to repeat that. That would be really amazing. It is also a special race for us because it is the team’s home race. This gives us an extra motivation. We know that in dry conditions, we are really fast there so let’s see what will happen. I am confident. At the pre–test, we saw that all is okay. Everything is on point so let’s see.”

Arnaud Sassone, Team Owner Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team: “We arrive at Spa-Francorchamps as the championship leader and with an advantage of eleven points. That is perfect, but it does put us under extra pressure, which we must manage. This race at Spa is a first for my team of technicians, but we have worked hard and listened to our riders in order to be well prepared. BMW Motorrad has been successful at Spa in the past, with the overall victory for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team last year. Our three Tecmas riders, led by their leader Kenny Foray, are a well-oiled team, which is both fast and capable of providing the engineers with precise information. They are also in great form and very motivated. All three of them are very familiar with the track in the Ardennes. Kenny took part in qualifying with the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team in 2022, while Loïc Arbel finished runner-up in the overall standings on the Tati Team’s Kawasaki. And Jan Bühn has been a regular at the Spa circuit for years.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Yamaha Racing:

Yamalube YART Yamaha Seeking Spa Redemption

The Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team head into Round 2 of the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship, the second edition of the 24H SPA EWC Motos, aiming to build on their podium at the opening round of the season in Le Mans and bounce back from their heart-breaking late DNF while leading last year’s race.

The YART Yamaha Team of Karel Hanika, Niccolò Canepa, Marvin Fritz, and reserve-rider Robin Mulhauser are determined to get revenge at the 24H SPA EWC Motos after joy turned to despair during the 2022 edition of the race. Recovering from a tricky start, the team had mounted a sensational fightback to take the lead just before the 18-hour mark, only to see a technical issue force them to DNF and effectively end their championship aspirations.

Heading to Belgium in 2023 with 65 points up for grabs at each 24-hour race, the Australian squad are currently second in the EWC overall standings with 54 points after a stunning second place at the Le Mans 24 Heures Motos. The team is confident in following that result with another strong performance after topping Tuesday’s official test at Spa with a 2:19.657, 0.873s ahead of their nearest rival, as they look to lift their first title since 2009.

During the test, all three main riders showed excellent one-lap pace and managed to run extensive race simulations as they worked on finetuning the electronics setup and front-end feeling on the Bridgestone-shod #7 R1, while reserve-rider Mulhauser tested and prepared parts for the race. Their advantage at the top was even more impressive when you consider YART were one of the few leading EWC teams not to previously take part in a private test at the circuit in 2023.

The EWC returns to the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for the second year in a row with the 24H SPA EWC Motos after a 21-year break, reviving the spirit of the famous 24 Heures de Liege that run until 2001.

The return of the historic Belgian track to the endurance calendar saw it undergo several changes to the layout to meet motorcycle racing safety requirements, including expanded run-off areas at several corners, repositioning of some safety barriers, and a minor realignment of Turn 9.

The new endurance-specific layout is 6.985km, making it the longest track on the calendar in 2023. It is also one of the fastest and features a combination of long straights, high-speed sections, and undulating elevation changes that make it one of the world’s most challenging circuits, with YART’s Hanika the current outright lap record holder with a 2:18.845 set in qualifying last year.

It was not just YART on the podium at Le Mans in April, as the 3ART Best of Bike Yamaha team of Martin Renaudin, Ludovic Cauchi, and Mathieu Lagrive were also celebrating after they claimed second in the FIM Endurance World Cup and ninth overall in front of their home fans, scoring 53 points in the SST class and leaving France second in the Cup Standings.

Wojcik Racing Team EWC 77’s Sheridan Morais, Isaac Vinales and Mathieu Gines will be looking for a top-ten finish after securing 12th at Le Mans, while the Maco Racing Team of Anthony West, Enzo Boulom and Bálint Kovács are hoping to improve on their 32nd place finish last time out in France.

The KM Motos squad of Lucas Mahias, Florian Marino and Bastien Mackels, and the Moto Ain Yamaha EWC Supported Team of Claudio Corti, Corentin Perolari, and Roberto Tamburini will be aiming to kickstart their seasons after they were both forced to retire from the race in Le Mans.

The action at the 2023 24H SPA EWC Motos kicks off on Friday with a one-hour Free Practice session at 10:00 am local time (UTC+2) before the 1st Qualifying Practice Session between 12:00-14:00 and the 2nd Qualifying Practice Session from 15:15-17:15. Then there is a 90-minute Night Practice session between 21:30-23:00 before Saturday’s 24-hour race kicks off at 14:00 with the iconic “Le Mans” running start.

Karel Hanika

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

“I am looking forward to the race now. Unlike most other teams, we only had the one-day official pre-test here on Tuesday. We were a bit worried beforehand that we might be a step behind the rest, but we were immediately up to speed, and the whole team was fast on long and short runs, which saw us end the day on top of the combined timesheets. I love racing here as it is a high-speed track. The YART R1 was awesome; we still need to improve a few little things on the settings for the traction control and engine braking, and a little with the front end, but honestly, we feel ready and fast. Our pace fills us with confidence, we need a little more luck than last year, and we can put ourselves in a solid championship position.”

Niccolò Canepa

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

“I am delighted with the test this week, as some of the other teams had some to Spa to test previously, and for us to be so much quicker was an excellent sign. We did a race simulation that was much faster than last year’s race pace, plus we also had very speed over one lap on the soft tyre. Therefore, we are confident heading into the rac3. The weather looks like it will be perfect too. Last year, we were leading the race when we had an issue that forced us to retire, so I believe we can fight for victory this year too.”

Marvin Fritz

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

“We are as ready as we can be. We had fantastic weather here for the private practice at Spa, which meant we could ride all day with two bikes. This was important because we were one of the only teams which didn’t test beforehand. We worked on many things with the bike and showed our potential by ending the day in P1. I had been stuck in bed for one and a half weeks due to being sick, so I was happy I could get back on the bike and immediately be on the pace with my teammates. We aim to continue to work on Friday to be even stronger during the race.”

Robin Mulhauser

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

“I think we have prepared for this race superbly, even more so than last year, when it was a new track for most of us. The test went well, as we were not necessarily looking for fast lap times, yet we had a great pace. My three teammates were fast on their long stints while I helped prepare and test some parts of the race. Last year was heartbreaking for the whole team, so we are looking forward to getting the result we deserve this year here at Spa.”

Mandy Kainz

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team – Team Manager

“It is great to be back at Spa. It is such an iconic circuit, with its elevation changes and high-speed nature, but this year we want to get our redemption after suffering from heartbreak in last year’s race. The team have prepared superbly. Unlike most teams, we did not test here before Tuesday, so finishing 0.8s ahead of the rest of the field was encouraging. The riders worked hard on the bike setup and completed race simulations, so we know we have good pace over a hot lap and longer stints. Now we must put it all together in the race and hope for better luck. Our aim, as always, is first to finish the race, as with so many points available, it is essential we reach the end of the 24 hours in the best position possible. I want to thank the whole team and Bridgestone for all of their hard work, and we are confident that if things go our way, we can be in the fight for victory.”

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