Sepang. Second race, second podium for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team in the FIM Endurance World Championship (FIM EWC): Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR) and Markus Reiterberger (GER) secured third place at the “Sepang 8 Hours” (MAS) with the #37 BMW S 1000 RR. Heavy rain forced Saturday’s race at the “Sepang International Circuit” to be reduced from eight to three hours. The newly established BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team is in second place in the overall standings of the World Championship after two races of the season.
Team manager Werner Daemen’s (BEL) team qualified in fifth for the second round of the 2019/20 season of the FIM EWC. Mikhalchik and Reiterberger took it in turns on the saddle of the #37 RR. Their team-mate Kenny Foray (FRA) injured himself when he fell during a practice session on Wednesday, and was unable to take part in the remainder of the race weekend.
The race in Sepang turned into a test of patience for everyone involved. The race was scheduled to start at 13:00 local time, but hours of heavy rain made it impossible to stick to the published schedule. The race started later than planned and behind the safety car, but was red-flagged after just a few laps. The conditions only improved at around 18:00 local time, enabling the race to be completed with a reduced duration of around three hours.
Mikhalchik and Reiterberger initially rode in fifth place, but a flawless performance saw them move up into third place during the course of the race. The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team maintained this podium position down to the finish line.
The third round of the FIM EWC 2019/20 is scheduled for 18th/19th April 2020: the 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA).
Quotes after the “Sepang 8 Hours”
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “The second podium in our second race in the FIM EWC – this is a fantastic result for our new BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team. We couldn’t have necessarily expected this as newcomers in this highly competitive World Championship. The team and our riders Ilya and Markus weren’t distracted by the adverse conditions. They did yet another fantastic, flawless job on the track and in the pit. On this occasion, I also want to send a get well soon message to Kenny, who surely will be back with us soon. Of course, we would have liked to get more riding in to gain more experience in race conditions with our RR, but it wasn’t possible in this weather. Now we will keep focussing on preparing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
Werner Daemen, Team Manager BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team: “I’m a very proud team manager today. It’s a shame that Kenny wasn’t able to take part, but Ilya and Markus did a really great job as a duo. The conditions on the wet track were very treacherous, and the day wasn’t easy overall. But the whole team did a really great job. And the pit stops were world class. Now we’re hoping for a similarly strong result in the next race in Le Mans.”
Ilya Mikhalchik: “First of all I want to say get well soon to our third rider Kenny, who unfortunately got injured in practice, and I hope that we will be back together soon, because it’s a team sport and it’s important to have the entire team together. Overall I’m, of course, really happy with the race. We have been strong in all conditions. At the beginning of the race, there was a lot of water on the track and I think that everyone was a bit scared of that. But everyone adapted and, while it was difficult in the early stages, it became better with every lap. Also the grip was there then. We did not quite have the pace of the winners, but we were very constant on every lap and this was important. I could have pushed more, but it was risky and it was our strategy to ride more consistently. This paid off, this was our target and we did our job. We are very happy to be on the podium and thanks a lot to my team. We did this together.”
Markus Reiterberger: “I am really happy to be back in endurance racing. It was a pity that Kenny was injured and I wish him a speedy recovery. We had to do today’s race with two riders. In the end it was only three hours. We decided that Ilya would ride at the start and he did a really good job. I’m really happy with how qualifying and the race went. I still had to adapt to the Dunlop tyres that were new for me, but the team did a really good job and I felt very comfortable on the bike. My race pace was not quite as fast as I had hoped for, but in the end it was more important not to crash and to bring home the result. Ilya did a great last stint, we secured third place and I think this is a really good team achievement.”