BMW Motorrad Motorsport
Le Mans, France, 30/03/2016, BMW Motorrad Race Trophy BMW Motorrad Motorsport
The 2016 motorcycle racing season kicked off in France on the Easter weekend: the 4.185-kilometre Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans hosted the first races of the year in the French Superbike Championship (FSBK) and the French European Bikes Championship (FR EU).
The BMW Motorrad Motorsport family has grown this year in the pinnacle of French motorcycle racing, the FSBK. And it celebrated the first podium of the season for the BMW S 1000 RR at the first attempt: Kenny Foray of the Tecmas BMW team finished a strong second in Le Mans.
The Tecmas Racing Team is one of the most experienced in French motorcycle racing. The team was formed in 1990 by former racer Michel Augizeau and raced in the 500cc World Championship, now MotoGP, in the 2000s. The team has enjoyed success in the French Supersport Championship in recent years.
The team embarked on a new chapter of its long history in 2016, joining forces with BMW Motorrad France. The team had already competed on the endurance circuit with the BMW S 1000 RR, most recently at the famous Bol d’Or in Le Castellet in September. This year, Tecmas BMW will contest an extensive programme with the RR: the team competes with Kenny Foray and youngster Maxime Bonnot in the top class of 1000cc racing in France, the FSBK, while the experienced Michel Amalric starts in the FR EU. Tecmas BMW will also be in action within the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC), at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Portimão, as well as the Bol d’Or.
Le Mans also heralded a new chapter for 31-year-old Foray. The 2014 endurance world champion and reigning champion in the FSBK Superstock class is contesting his first season on the BMW S 1000 RR in 2016. Foray is in for a busy year: he races in the EWC with the Penz13.com BMW Motorrad team and in the FSBK with Tecmas BMW.
Foray’s display at the opening round of the FSBK in Le Mans showed just how comfortable he already feels on the RR – with the fastest time in the second practice session, third place on the front row of the grid in both races, and second place and the fastest lap in race two.
With four riders in action, the BMW contingent in the FSBK was stronger in Le Mans than it has been for a long time. Foray and Bonnot, on the Tecmas BMW RRs, were joined by a further two members of the BMW Motorrad Motorsport community, in the form of Nicolas Pouhair and Cyprien Schmidt. However, the races were dominated by difficult conditions. After it had rained all night, the track was still wet in both races.
Race one saw Foray involved in the battle for the lead right from the start. However, his race came to a premature end when a puncture forced his retirement after just four laps. “The front wheel felt strange. As it turned out, I had ridden over a piece of debris, which had slit the front tyre,” Foray reported.
Pouhair, for whom the priority at the opening round was to find the right rhythm again following the winter break and to prepare for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, was the best-placed BMW rider at the end of the race. He finished 14th. Schmidt came home 16th, while Foray’s young team-mate Bonnot was 30th.
Foray made a cautious start to race two. His starting position on the grid was wet, and he did not want to take any unnecessary risks. He consequently dropped back to eighth place early on. However, he had climbed back into second place by the end of the fourth lap. He held on to finish runner-up and also set the fastest lap of the race on his RR with three laps remaining. However, he was unable to launch an attack on leader Gregory Leblanc, who was too far ahead by this point.
“I did not want to push like crazy in these perilous conditions,” said Foray. “The priority for me was to secure second place. The team and I needed this podium. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but that was definitely a promising start.” Schmidt came home 15th, followed by Pouhair in 16th. Bonnot ended race two in 32nd place.
The second race weekend of the 2016 FSBK takes place in Nogaro from 23rd to 24th April.