BMW Motorrad Motorsport
Le Mans, France, 13/04/2016, FIM Endurance World Championship
Sunday, 15:00, Le Mans: Martin Choy crossed the finish line at the end of the 24-hour race on the number 52 BMW S 1000 RR. The IVR BMW Motorrad CSEU team may have come home in 45th place, and thus last – but Choy, team-mate Roland Resch and the entire team celebrate euphorically as the bike crosses the line.
They have an almost unbelievable 24 hours behind them. Choy and Resch had to complete the entire race between the two of them after team-mate Janez Prosenik was badly injured in a crash on his first lap. Choy and Resch pushed themselves to the physical limit – and beyond. With a combination of fighting spirit and sheer willpower, they showed emphatically what it means never to give up.
The IVR BMW Motorrad CSEU team knew before the race that Le Mans would be a challenge. This was the first race for the fledgling team. The BMW S 1000 RR had been completely reassembled within four weeks. The team had tested just once in Almeria in preparation, then it was straight down to the serious business. “Everything was new. We did not have a set-up and just rode. Given that, it is really incredible that we made it to the finish,” said Resch, who was contesting the second 24-hour race of his career. However, Le Mans had other very different obstacles in store for the team.
It happened in the early stages of the race. Having rained prior to the start, the track was gradually drying out. All the teams were switching to slicks, including IVR BMW Motorrad CSEU, when Resch handed the RR over to Prosenik as planned. However, the Slovenian rider lost control of the bike in a damp spot on the track and crashed heavily. While Prosenik received medical attention, the team faced the decision of how to continue, and whether it could continue at all. Only later did they receive the news that Prosenik had fractured his pelvis in three places and also his wrist. However, it was clear from the outset that he would be unable to continue.
Resch and Choy would have to contest the entire race alone. And they were agreed upon one thing: “We’ll get through it.”
The pair swapped places in the saddle of the RR on an hourly basis – from the start at 15:00, right through the night until dawn. “That was mad. We were all on our last legs. You get off the bike and have 40 minutes, at the most, to somehow get your strength back before it all starts again. That is hardcore. It goes without saying that we did not sleep,” said Resch.
The team decided to take a break at half past five on Sunday morning. The RR was parked up in the garage for two hours and was given a thorough check while the two riders were finally able to relax a little. Resch: “That was worth its weight in gold, as we both really needed that two hours of sleep.”
After that it was back to the hourly changeovers. However, the sheer effort of navigating a race motorcycle round the circuit at race speed for a day and a night was increasingly taking its toll.
Their changeover rhythm changed to half-hour stints for the final three hours of the race. “I was in a lot of pain and Martin was on his last legs physically. We could simply no longer manage to ride for a whole hour,” said Resch.
“Those last three hours were so tiring. I cannot put into words how close to the limit we were physically. I had pain in my neck, back and forearms,” he said. “But we got through it. We said: ‘Yes, we want to finish the race, even if it is just the two of us.’”
There was even more drama to come for the IVR BMW Motorrad CSEU team in Le Mans. With just a few minutes of the race remaining, the dream of finishing appeared to be dashed – all that effort seemed to be for nothing. The reason: the battery.
“It was the last pit stop. I came in, gave the bike to Martin and told him that everything was great and that he could head out for the final few laps,” recalled Resch. “He pulled away out of the pit lane, and all of a sudden the bike started to stutter and the dashboard went blank. Martin said: ‘No, no! Please God, let me do just one more lap and get back to the garage.’ He somehow managed to finish that lap. He opened the throttle and released the clutch. In that way, he practically rolled back in neutral. Shortly before the entrance to the pit lane he leapt off and pushed the bike flat-out for the final 300 metres to the garage. Nobody was allowed to help him. He looked like he was going to black out, he was so exhausted.”
However, the team overcame this challenge too. The battery was replaced and the number 52 RR was able to complete the final five minutes of the race.
Le Mans was a real test for the young team – and one that it passed with flying colours. “I am incredibly proud of this team. To complete a 24-hour race without any experience and with just two riders is something you don’t see every day,” said Resch. “The most important thing now is that Janez recovers as quickly as possible. I hope that he gets better soon.” The entire BMW Motorrad Motorsport community joins him in wishing Janez a speedy recovery.
And Resch? He can hardly wait for the second round of the 2016 FIM Endurance World Championship, the 12 Hours of Portimão in June: “That was really the toughest race of my life. But we did our job well, the team worked incredibly hard and the bike ran smoothly. The engine, the technology – everything worked superbly. I am already really looking forward to Portimão!”