The BMW S1000RR was the bike to beat at the ‘8 Hours of Doha’ in Qatar, the second round of the 2012 FIM Endurance World Championship. BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent with riders Sébastien Gimbert, Erwan Nigon (both FRA) and Damian Cudlin (AUS) fulfilled its mission and celebrated a dominant win at the Losail International Circuit. After an initial setback at the season opening Bol d’Or race at Magny-Cours in France, the BMW Motorrad HP Race Support-backed squad is now back in the fight for the 2012 world championship title.
The #99 RR was already dominating in free practice and qualifying, with BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent securing its third Qatar pole on its third appearance at Doha. Nigon did the first stint and pushed hard to pull a gap on the field, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. When the safety car was deployed in response to an oil spill, he pitted and handed the RR over to Gimbert, who retook the race lead on lap 39 and was able to quickly re-establish a comfortable gap back to second place. From this point on, Nigon, Gimbert and Cudlin were able to control things from the front, helped by the perfect pit stops made by the team’s mechanics. After eight hours, Nigon took the checkered flag with a three-lap advantage to give BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent and tire partner Michelin their first win of the 2012 season.
The victory promotes BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent to fourth in the 2012 Endurance World Championship standings with 35 points, just 19 points behind the series leaders SERT (54) with three rounds to go. The next event is the 8-hour-race at Suzuka in Japan on July 29.
“I’m pleased that we’ve been able to bounce back from the disappointment of the Bol d’Or with an emphatic win here in Qatar,” comments Team Principal Michael Bartholemy. “The team and all three riders have done a fantastic job this week, and for that I’d like to say a big thank you. I’d also like to thank BMW – in particular Marcel Driessen and Berthold Hauser – as well as Sachar Rodenbusch, Bischoff and Scheck, and all our sponsors and partners for their continued support, without which we wouldn’t be here. It’s a credit to Michelin that we were able to use the same tire throughout the race, despite the extremes of temperature. The win here means we’re well and truly back in contention for the championship title, with just 19 points separating us from the top of the standings. I hope we’ll be able to reduce that gap even further next time out at Suzuka.”
“The start of the race wasn’t easy, because it was so hot, but I pushed really hard to try and pull a gap straight way, and it worked perfectly until the pace car came out and everyone closed back up again,” summed up Erwan Nigon. “Sébastien managed to re-establish the gap during his first stint then, together with Damian, we were able to control the race from the front. The win here today is good for the team, for BMW and for Michelin, who all did a great job for us, but it’s also good for the championship. With just 19 points between us and the top of the standings, it’s all to play for in the final three rounds.”
“The RR was the fastest bike out there; the Michelin tires worked perfectly, everyone in the team was on top of their game and all three riders were on the pace from the start,” confirmed Sébastien Gimbert. “It’s an important win, because after missing out on points at the Bol d’Or it puts us back in the battle for the championship. Now we must go on full attack at Suzuka, because I would really like a podium finish there.”
This was a view shared by Damien Cudlin, who said, “Winning here in Qatar was a great result, not just in terms of the race, but also in terms of the championship, which is a lot closer than it was after the Bol d’Or. With the RR and the Michelin tires we definitely had the strongest package here, but that was also true the last two years when bad luck conspired against us. I have to admit, given our luck here in the past, I breathed a big sigh of relief when Erwan finally took the checkered flag!”
The RR also was successful in the Superstock class, with Team Penz13.com Kraftwerk Herpigny Racing crossing the line in third and celebrating its second podium position of the 2012 season. In the overall classification, the squad with riders Pedro Vallcaneras (ESP), Michal Filla (CZE) and Gregory Fastré (BEL) finished in a strong seventh position.