BMW Motorrad France team rider Erwan Nigon is the 2010 French Superbike Champion after the final round in Albi. With just 11 points separating Nigon and his S1000RR team-mate Sébastien Gimbert in the build-up to the final two races of this season, one thing was for sure — it was only one of these BMW riders who would be lifting the title after the second race on Sunday afternoon, although it was anyone’s guess which one it would be.
It was Nigon who was the first to stamp his authority on the weekend’s racing by putting his #7 RR in pole position, although his best lap was only three hundredths of a second faster than Gimbert’s, who would line up next to Erwan on the front row of the grid at the 3.565-km Albi circuit.
The race action started on Sunday morning with considerable pressure on both riders. One mistake could hand the title to their team-mate. It was Nigon, however, overcoming early pressure to pull an ever increasing lead and eventually winning the first race by 7.485 seconds over his team-mate, with third-placed rider David Muscat over 26 seconds behind on his Ducati. As well as the two BMW riders being on the podium, Erwan Nigon also posted the fastest lap of the race and three other privateer riders (Loic Napoleone, Nicolas Pouhair and Alexandre Perrault) made a grand total of five S1000RRs in the top 14.
Race two belonged to Sébastien Gimbert, who did all he could do to help his title chase by securing the final victory of the season. The 2009 French Superbike Champion made a fantastic start and led from the front, while Erwan found himself stuck in fourth pace behind Suzuki riders Freddy Foray and Vincent Philippe. However, Nigon needed just two laps to get past these two riders and move up into second place.
Knowing full well that the 2010 title would be his as long as he stayed in this position until the checkered flag, Nigon rode an intelligent race, eventually finishing 8.9 seconds behind his team-mate, who also set the fastest lap of race two. The podium was rounded off by Vincent Philippe, ten seconds behind Nigon, while privateer BMW rider Loic Napolean had a good race on his #77 BMW and managed to achieve fourth place.
After crossing the finish line, outgoing French Superbike Championship title holder Sébastien Gimbert swapped bikes with his victorious team-mate, so that Erwan would have the S1000RR with the number 1 place for his lap of honor, which they made together with a huge BMW flag. This action showed the excellent spirit between both team-mates which has definitely helped contribute to the incredible performances of this first season.
With seven victories, five second places and one third place in 2010 — as well as six pole positions achieved out of a possible seven — Erwan Nigon is a worthy champion and is proud to add his first French Superbike title to the growing list of silverware in his trophy cabinet. However, his team-mate Sébastien Gimbert was only 12 points back in the runner-up position and his constant hard-fought title challenge has allowed BMW Motorrad France to post a ‘one-two’ in the 2010 series — the best possible results in its first year of SBK racing.
For BMW Motorrad France, winning this championship, the vice-championship and also the Manufacturers’ Championship is a remarkable achievement, given the fact that the S1000RR has only been on sale in France since December 5th of last year. As a team, to score 12 victories (including 10 double podiums) out of 14 races is testament to the hard work and success of everyone involved in this racing project. These results will be hard to improve upon in 2011, but no doubt BMW Motorrad France will be trying.