BMW Motorrad Motorsport
Munich, Germany, 09/11/2016, FIM Superbike World Championship FIM Endurance World Championship
We have a special type of interview for you again this week. This time Jordi Torres and Kenny Foray took time to discuss racing among BMW colleagues. The concept: We don’t ask the questions, the riders interview each other. Torres and Foray both compete in world championships that could not be more different from each other. And so a discussion that covered topics such as the feeling on the BMW S 1000 RR, the WorldSBK schedule and the particular challenges of endurance racing developed.
They both contested their first season on the BMW S 1000 RR in 2016. Spain’s Torres races for the Althea BMW Racing Team in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK). He finished the season in sixth place overall, and as the best privateer.
France’s Foray enjoyed success in two championships: He celebrated four wins and 11 podiums in the French Superbike Championship (FSBK) with his Tecmas Racing Team, and finished second in the championship standings. He also contested the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) and clinched pole position at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and third place on the podium at the 8 Hours of Oschersleben with the Penz13.com BMW Motorrad Team.
Jordi Torres: “What do you think about the BMW S 1000 RR?”
Kenny Foray: “It was my first season with this bike. When I tested it for the first time in Spain I liked it but still struggled to fully push, because I had ridden another bike for six years. The feeling was good, but I knew that it could be even better. And when I arrived at Le Mans for the first round of the French Superbike Championship – my feeling was directly completely different. I knew the track and, from the first lap on, I enjoyed it so much riding the bike. It was the same when I had my first endurance race with the RR, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I never had so much fun riding an endurance bike. It was so easy to get an understanding for the bike. I have to say: I just love the bike. Okay, sometimes my feeling is not perfect, but it was my first season on the RR and I was faster than ever before from the word go.”
Torres: “Where would you improve the bike?”
Foray: “I am happy with the electronics and everything about the bike, but maybe sometimes it is a little bit too reactive. Especially in endurance racing, it would sometimes help if we could find a way to make it physically a bit easier to ride. And what are your experiences with the RR Superbike? It is also your first season on it?”
Torres: “The engine, the frame and the electronic device are completely different compared to my previous bike. The BMW is more powerful and more reactive. I have the same feeling like you, you need to be fit to control the power. But I really like the BMW because it gives you a safe feeling, you can feel everything the bike is doing and I have a lot of confidence, for example, in the front suspension and the front tyre.”
Foray: “What do you think about your weekend schedule in WorldSBK? Last year there were two races on Sunday, now you have one on Saturday and one on Sunday…”
Torres: “I loved the old schedule. Because I think this is the magic of Superbike. Having two races on one day is incredible. It was a great challenge, you had a lot of pressure. Now the Saturday is a really strange day. In the early morning at 8:45, you have the third free practice session. Usually the track conditions are pretty different at that time of the day and often not so good. That makes it very difficult to continue your work from the Friday practice sessions. And after that, you go directly into Superpole, with, again, different conditions than in FP3. One and a half hours later, you have the first race, with a different setting that you had not ridden before that day. But then on Sunday you have just a short warm-up in the morning and then one race. I personally preferred the old schedule.”
Torres: “But let us speak about endurance racing. How long are your stints? My races are about 45 minutes. How physically demanding is a 24-hour race?”
Foray: “We have 24 litres in the tank so our stints are about one hour long. How physically demanding it is depends on the track. Paul Ricard, that hosts the Bol d’Or, is an easy track in this regard. There is a very long straight so physically it is not difficult. It was different two years ago, when we had the 24 Hours in Magny-Cours. You know the track – and for an endurance race it is physically really demanding as there is no straight. But for me it is okay, and 24-hour races really are something special. Sure, when it is time for your stint at 4 o’clock in the morning and you open the door of the truck and it is raining, you start to think: ‘Shit, why am I here?’ But of course you know why you are there: because you love it and it is a special kind of racing.”
Torres: “I can imagine it is quite a challenge…”
Foray: “Yes, endurance racing is not easy. It is exhausting and you need to adapt everything to the conditions that are permanently changing during the race.” Torres: “True, the temperatures change a lot over the day…”
Foray: “At this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, the temperatures went down to 2 degrees during the night.” Torres: “Ouch…” Foray: “It is really crazy. But with the BMW it is not so bad because we have heated handlebar grips. So it is not so cold. (laughs)”
Torres: “How big is the difference between the top riders and the backmarkers?”
Foray: “It is big. During the race, you can have 15 seconds difference on one lap. And sometimes, during the night or when it is raining, it can be up to 20 seconds. In the early morning, it happens pretty often that you overtake the same guy three or four times during your one-hour stint.”
Torres: “Do you use 100 per cent of your potential?”
Foray: “I would say I can use 90, 95 per cent, but it is difficult to ride at your limit in endurance because there are a lot of people on the track. Sometimes you don’t have one clear lap during a whole stint, because there is always traffic. Also in qualifying, it is difficult to make really good lap times, because there are 60 riders on the track. But you always push as much as it is possible in the situation and when you have no traffic, you normally push to your limit also in endurance racing.”