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BMW Motorrad Motorsport
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Suzuka, Japan, 29/07/2015, FIM Endurance World Championship

Impressive debut in Suzuka

Strong first outing

BMW MOTORRAD France Team Penz13.com impressed on its debut at the fiercely-competitive “Suzuka 8 Hours”. The classic marked the second round of the 2015 FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC). Markus Reiterberger, Bastien Mackels and Tommy Bridewell held their own on the #13 BMW S 1000 RR against strong opposition from Japan. They were among the top regular EWC teams until Lady Luck deserted them about halfway into the race. However, the Japanese BMW teams ensured that the BMW S 1000 RR ended the races as by far the best European motorcycle.

Classic with a star line-up

The “Suzuka 8 Hours”, which was run for the 38th time this year, is the biggest race of the year for Japanese manufacturers. As such, they always compete with thoroughbred works teams, while the bikes are ridden by star riders from MotoGP and other world championships. The eight-hour race is classed as a round of the Endurance World Championship, but the regular EWC teams form just part of the field. They are joined by many teams from the MFJ Superbike All Japan Road Race Championship (MFJ), as well as the mentioned Japanese works teams.

In 2015, 84 teams entered for the marathon at the “Suzuka Circuit” – the highest number for ten years. According to the regulations, there was space on the starting grid for 70 bikes. These 70 grid positions were determined in qualifying.

BMW MOTORRAD France Team Penz13.com was making its Suzuka debut this year. Neither Reiterberger nor Mackels were familiar with the Japanese circuit, while Suzuka was also new territory for the “Penz13” team. However, the team led by former rider Rico Penzkofer produced an impressive debut. The riders wasted little time in adapting to the difficult circuit, while the technicians worked together with the experts at BMW Motorrad Motorsport to find the perfect set-up for the #13 BMW S 1000 RR.

Mixing it at the front

In the qualifying sessions, Reiterberger, Bridewell and Mackels were consistently among the fastest of the permanent EWC teams. The trio qualified 14th overall, as the second-best of the regular EWC teams. In the race itself, the team produced an impressive push towards the front of the field. Bridewell rode the first stint, climbing to seventh before handing the #13 RR to Reiterberger. He made up another position, bringing BMW MOTORRAD France Team Penz13.com to sixth place. This made it the best-placed European team, in the midst of the strong Japanese works teams – and on its debut to boot.

In an endurance race, which puts man and machine to the ultimate test, you need that little bit of luck. Unfortunately, luck was not on the side of the BMW team. Following a problem with the fuel system and a crash involving Mackels, the team decided to retire from the race while running 47th. By this point the gap to the points positions was too great. Despite initially being disappointed, the team can generally be happy with its outing.

“That is endurance racing for you. We are not the only ones who failed to finish. That is part and parcel of racing,” said team principal Penzkofer. “Things were running superbly up to that point. We showed what we are capable of.” Bridewell added: “The weekend was good, and the pace was extremely strong. I am happy with my stint. I climbed to seventh place, which is far better and more than anyone expected.”

BMW S 1000 RR top European bike

Following the retirement of BMW MOTORRAD France Team Penz 13.com, it was left to the CONFIA Flex Motorrad39 to fly the flag high for BMW. The squad assured that the BMW S 1000 RR came home as by far the best European bike. The team is one of the outfits from the MFJ in action in Suzuka. Regular riders Daisaku Sakai and Shinya Takeishi were joined by Takatoshi Onishi. The trio finished as the best-placed BMW team in 15th.

Another regular MFJ team that started in Suzuka was the Tras 135HP team. Riders Yuuta Kodama and Koji Teramoto received support from a genuine endurance expert, Spain’s Pedro Vallcaneras. They came home 17th on their BMW S 1000 RR. The Vital Spirit Shark Energy & Sakura Advance team (T. Sato / M. Ota) crossed the finish line in 30th.

Fourth place in the Superstock class

Regular EWC riders Marco Nekvasil and Hayato Takada tackled the race on the #48 BMW S 1000 RR for the YMGN with MCRacing team in the Superstock class. They shared the saddle of their RR with Ryosuke Katahira. The trio finished a fine 29th overall, which earned them fourth place in the Superstock class (EWC STK). Seventh place in this category went to the BMW team 3601MotorSports + Samurai Factory with its trio of riders Yasutomi/Murata/Honda (43rd overall).

The Endurance World Championship now heads to Germany for the “8 Hours Oschersleben” on 22nd August.

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