For many, the start of the 2010 Qtel FIM Endurance World Championship is always an exciting weekend, when the 24 Hours of Le Mans kicks off the season in style over the weekend of April 17-18. This series, of course, will be a new test of Endurance for the S1000RR and to date, there are four BMW teams entered among the 32 permanent teams—a new record in the history of the Endurance World Championship.
Among the BMW teams will be an official BMW Motorrad France entry, known as the Michelin BMW team, and consisting of riders Sébastien Gimbert, Erwan Nigon and Sébastien Charpentier. Organized by UP Racing for BMW Motorrad France—and following many of the other national markets that have a BMW S1000RR team racing in a national championship—Sébastien and Erwan will also be competing in the French Superbike championship throughout 2010.
This prestigious 14-race series runs from March to September at six circuits nationwide and is the most important motorcycle racing championship in France. The team has chosen two riders with significant pedigree to campaign the S1000RR in its first season in the championship. Starting with the number one plate will be Sébastien Gimbert, who is the 2009 French Superbike champion. He will be partnered by Erwan Nigon, who finished in the runner-up spot in the 2008 French Superbike championship.
The first race of the 2010 series recently took place in Lédenon in the south of France and the results were promising, with Sébastien and Erwan finishing in second and third place in race one, and then Erwan finishing in second and Sébastien in fifth place in race two. This puts Erwan Nigon in second place in the championship standings, with Sébastien Gimbert closely behind in third.
Thirty-three-year-old Current French Superbike champion Sébastien Gimbert brings a wealth of experience to the team. The former Endurance World Champion (2004) has enjoyed significant success in Endurance racing (Bol d’Or in 2007, 2002 and 2003, Le Mans in 2002 and 2005, Oschersleben in 2004) and also raced in the Grand Prix 500cc World Championship in 1998 and 1999, as well as World Superbikes in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Although only 27-years-old, Erwan Nigon already has a great career behind him. After he started motorcycle racing in the French 125cc championship in 1999, he competed in the 250cc World Championship in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. Then it was the Endurance World Championship in 2007, 2008 and 2009, as well as fitting in duties as a Michelin and HRC MotoGP test rider in 2008—and finishing runner up in the 2008 French Superbike Championship.
For BMW Motorrad France’s Marketing Manager Sébastien Lorentz, it promises to be an exciting year in a country that is passionate about sports bikes: “The BMW S1000RR bikes that we are using in the French Superbike series are very close to those seen in the FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup, where only minor modifications are allowed to the suspension and engine. In this configuration the S1000RR showed great potential during our first race weekend at Lédenon.
“Although the circuit wasn’t suited to the S1000RR because we weren’t able to make use of all the available power, Sébastien and Erwan still achieved great results, even though they’d only been able to test the bikes for one day before this first race. They’ll be back on track in this series over the weekend of 24-25 April at Nogaro, where everyone will be looking forwards to seeing them in action again.”