Friday, September 23, 2011

BMW to start Le Mans 24 Hour from pole

World Championship leader Team BMW Motorrad France looks for honours at the prestigious 24 hour motorcycle race at Le Mans on September 24 and 25 and competes with the BMW S 1000 RR in a real endurance challenge. The 24 hour race is a part of the 2011 FIM Endurance World Championship. The French BMW team begins as championship leaders and are determined to continue their successful winning streak. Already this season – only their second in the championship – Team BMW Motorrad France 99 has secured a podium finish at the Bol d'Or in Magny-Cours, France, taken the first win for the RR at a world championship race at Albacete, Spain, and finished an impressive fourth against a host of factory teams at the Suzuka 8-Hours in Japan. As a result, the team heads into the penultimate round of the series leading the world championship standings with a six-point advantage over its closest rivals.
But with 35 points on offer to the winner of the ‘24 Heures Moto’, the championship is still far from decided. Team riders, newly-crowned French Superbike champion Sébastien Gimbert and Erwan Nigon, both from France, and Australian Damian Cudlin are certainly under no illusions as to how tough a challenge they face this weekend, as they look to increase their lead further at the top of the championship. But they go into the weekend with some confidence, having topped the timesheet consistently during the recent two-day pre-Mans test at the Bugatti Circuit. “The atmosphere at Le Mans is something special for every motorsports fan. And it is a special feeling for BMW Motorrad France to head into this classic 24 hour race as one of the favourites,” says Marcel Driessen, Director BMW Motorrad France. “We are well prepared: the team is in a good mood, has gelled together very well and we have three top riders. Of course we want to win at Le Mans, but we have an even higher goal: the most important thing for us is to win the world championship at the end of the season.” “I think we're in good shape for this weekend’s race at Le Mans,” says Gimbert. “The fact that we were quickest at the pre-Mans test a few weeks ago, even though we were working towards a set-up on the RR that would make it both consistent and easy to ride, inspires confidence. We also go into the Le Mans weekend off the back of our success at Albi, where I won the French Superbike Championship and Erwan finished second, to give BMW its second consecutive one-two in the series. I’m looking forward to the weekend ahead at Le Mans, where I hope we’ll be able to successfully increase our lead in the championship standings.” “I can’t wait to get started this weekend at Le Mans,” adds Nigon. “I think this is actually the first time that I’ve gone into a 24 hour race at Le Mans with no worries at all. We had a very good pre-Mans test, setting the fastest time on the RR, but also coming away with a set-up that will work well in the race.” “I’ve done this race every year since 2006, but this year I’ll be racing with by far the best package I’ve ever had,” comments Cudlin. “The BMW S 1000 RR has proved ultra-competitive already this season, we know that Michelin has a solution for every eventuality, the team is experienced and I’ve got two very fast teammates in Sébastien and Erwan. I couldn’t ask for more. Everything looks good, but this is endurance racing and anything can happen in 24 hours, so we also need Lady Luck to be on our side, or at least not against us, this weekend.” The first qualifying session on Thursday already proved that the team’s expectations are likely to be realized. Erwan Nigon set the fastest lap time of 1:35.590. With an average lap time of 1:37.564, the trio set a benchmark that is one second quicker than last year’s pole-winning effort. Erwan Nigon is confident: “I am obviously pleased with my time. Today’s result is encouraging, but it’s during the race that we really need to deliver.” The team furthermore confirmed it's great performance by achieving pole position for the race on Friday. Credits: Bmw Motorrad Motorsport


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