BMW Motorrad is celebrating its the best ever world championship finish for the BMW S1000RR. In only its first full season in the FIM Endurance World Championship, Team BMW Motorrad France 99 finished second in the overall standings. The joy following this accomplishment is tempered slightly by the fact they had a chance at the title. However, bad luck at the season finale, the “8 Hours of Doha” (QAT) prevented that with Team BMW Motorrad France 99 crossing the line second in the race. That was not enough to secure the title as the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) finished third aboard their GSX-R1000 and became World Champion by only four points.
The race weekend started in style for the BMW Team. Having dominated practice and qualifying, riders Sébastien Gimbert (FRA), Erwan Nigon (FRA) and Damian Cudlin (AUS) were confident of their chances for the win on the “Losail International Circuit.” Unfortunately, their hopes were dashed just 12 laps into the race when another competitor crashed and collected the race leader Gimbert on his way to the gravel trap. Four minutes lost for repairs in the pits meant the team rejoined the race in 24th.
The squad started the fight back that would see the RR progress rapidly through the field to eventually take the checkered flag in second, trailing race winners Yamaha by just 30 seconds. But these 30 seconds made the difference, as with a victory Team BMW Motorrad France 99 would have won the title.
“Our bike once again dominated the entire race weekend. We were consistently the fastest and would surely have won, but it was not to be,” said Marcel Driessen, Director BMW Motorrad France. “Our riders gave 110 percent and launched an unbelievable fight back after the crash, which was absolutely no fault of our own, coming through from last but one to second. In the end, we missed out on the World Championship title by just 30 seconds. The whole world witnessed an unbelievable race and a bike that was simply perfect. A huge thank you goes to everyone in our relatively young team. Thanks also to BMW Motorrad in Munich for their great support, and congratulations to the SERT team.”
“I am disappointed, obviously, but I am also proud of what we did in the race,” explained Gimbert. “I was comfortable at the front of the race when Katsuyuki Nakasuga pushed too hard and took us both out. It would have been easy to have given up then, to have left the bike, closed the pit’s doors and just called it a day. But we didn’t. Instead, we fought back and we came within 30 seconds of winning the championship. That is something for me, Erwan, Damian and the whole team to be proud of.”
“What can I say? I’m disappointed, but this is racing,” added Nigon. “Sometimes you enjoy good luck and sometimes you endure bad luck, like we did at this race. But we did our best to recover and only missed out on a dream comeback by the narrowest of margins. I’d like to say a big thank you to my teammates, Sébastien and Damian, to BMW, Michelin and everyone in the team for their support.”
“After Sébastien was t-boned by Nakasuga in the first hour of the race we regrouped, pushed on and came within 30 seconds of winning the world championship title,” Cudlin summed up. “After 72 hours of racing this season, we lost out by just half a minute. How crazy is that? I want to thank everyone who made this season possible.”
“We fought back after the crash, lapping two or three seconds faster than anyone else on track for most of the race, but it wasn’t quite enough and we lost out by just 30 seconds at the end,” said Team Principal Michael Bartholemy. “We are second overall in only our first full season in the championship. I’d like to congratulate our riders who have done a fantastic job this season. Thanks also to BMW Motorrad and to Michelin, whose unstinting support allowed us to come here to Qatar still with a shot at the title. I’d also like to congratulate SERT on retaining the championship title.”
Berthold Hauser, head of the specialist BMW Motorrad HP Race Support department, explained, “What can you say after that kind of finish to a race and the World Championship, when you so narrowly miss out on the World Championship title? Everything ran perfectly: the bike was flawless, the team was on top form in every respect, and we didn’t make even the slightest mistake. We had pulled out all the stops on the technical side, but there is absolutely nothing you can do about a completely unnecessary and dangerous attack from an over-motivated competitor. BMW Motorrad and this team can finish the season as runner-up and with their heads held high. The way this panned out, we are without doubt the endurance world champions in many people’s minds. Congratulations to SERT on winning the World Championship title. Bring on 2012!”