New season, new look: Team Bolliger Switzerland reveals 2023 EWC line-up
Team Bolliger Switzerland has revealed its line-up for the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship with a top-five overall finish once again the goal for the Kawasaki-powered squad.
Austrian Nico Thöni, 27, will form part of the Team Bolliger Switzerland attack for a second season, while Swiss Marcel Brenner joins on a full-time basis having contested the 12 Hours of Estoril in 2021 on the outfit’s #8 Formula EWC category entry. German Patrick Hobelsberger, a frontrunner in the FIM Supersport World Championship and an IDM title winner in the past, will complete the Team Bolliger Switzerland line-up for what will be his first experience of racing around the clock.
Brenner, 25, and Hobelsberger, 26, replace Jan Bühn and Jesper Pellijeff, who depart Team Bolliger Switzerland with the best wishes of Team Manager Kevin Bolliger.
“Like Jan and Jesper, Nico did a really good job in 2022, and we are very pleased to keep him in our team,” said Kevin Bolliger. “When he’s in the flow he can reach a good lap time in qualifying and he’s also really fast when it’s raining. He showed me during the 2022 season that he’s really motivated to do endurance racing. He was really open-minded to change his personal preparation and that showed me that he really wants to achieve his goals with us.
“Marcel is a young rider from World Supersport who did the 12 Hours of Estoril with our team in 2021. He was meant to do this year’s Bol d’Or with us but crashed in the World Supersport event at Magny-Cours and broke his hand so wasn’t able to ride. He’s never done a 24-hour race before and now he has three big ones calling for him. But he’s really excited and really curious about what is coming for him. He’s strong and fast and it’s really important for us to have a Swiss guy in our team.
“Patrick is new to endurance racing but had some strong races with Kallio Racing in World Supersport. However, he hurt his elbow when he crashed hard last season, but he’s signed for a team to do the German Superbike Championship and has also signed for us for EWC and we’re very happy to have him in our team. We also have three German-speaking riders now and this for sure will help with the communication.”
Of the departing Jan Bühn and Jesper Pellijeff, Bolliger said: “Jesper would like to put more focus on sprint races, but I know if I need a rider, I am always allowed to call him, that’s what he told me. I really hope Jan finds a good saddle in the EWC paddock because he’s one of the most experienced riders, he’s really consistent and he’s really good. I really appreciated the time with him in our team, it was really nice, but we decided to make a change although everything is fine between us.”
Heading its 42nd season in the EWC as the championship’s only ever-present entrant, the team founded by former racer Hanspeter Bolliger in 1982 but now managed by his son Kevin, is one of the championship’s leading privateer outfits. It placed seventh in the final EWC standings in 2022 and finished a fine third in the classification for independent teams.
“The top five will be the goal in 2023,” Bolliger continued. “I know it’s a big goal against all these top teams. We have made some other changes in the team and with some suppliers, but we keep these changes a secret for now because we don’t like to play with fully open cards. But if we can be consistent like I know we can and with the package we have I am pretty sure we can achieve a lot and with these riders. I am curious about the upcoming season and look forward to getting started.”
The 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship totals four events and gets underway with the 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans in France from 13-16 April.