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BMW Motorrad Motorsport

Limbach-Oberfrohna, Germany, 14/09/2016, BMW Road Race Challenge

Mad about racing

An interview with BMW rider Didier Grams

This man has fuel in his blood: rarely does a weekend go by without Didier Grams taking to the racetrack on the BMW S 1000 RR. The International Road Racing Championship (IRRC), major international road racing events, and the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) – the 33-year-old from Saxony’s schedule is absolutely packed. It is not unheard of for Grams to fly from one circuit to the next on one weekend. That was the case in May, when he raced at the North West 200 in Ireland in May, before flying over 1,000 kilometres to Oss in the Netherlands, where he finished on the podium in the IRRC.

Grams started out in motocross and then switched to circuit racing before he discovered his love of road racing. His career includes two IRRC titles so far. This season, he is already assured third place in the IRRC. He competes in the FIM Endurance World Championship with the ‘GERT56 HMT by rs speedbikes’ team. His next outing comes this weekend, at the famous Bol d’Or 24-hour race in Le Castellet in southern France.

In an interview, Grams reveals why he has been putting his faith in the RR and BMW Motorrad Motorsport for so long, how he is able to combine his passion for motor racing with his profession as a roofer, and what makes road racing so fascinating.

“It is simply a wicked passion”

Question: “You are a real BMW institution. For how long have you been riding on BMW bikes?”

Didier Grams: “My first season on the BMW S 1000 RR was 2011. I think it is a very good combination: a German rider on a German bike.”

Question: “How did your passion for motor racing – and for road racing in particular - begin?”

Grams: “When I was young, I used to ride motocross. I got my motorcycle licence when I was 16 and bought a 125cc bike for the road. I had my first go on the racetrack on that bike, and really enjoyed it. Another advantage was that you don’t get as mucky as in motocross (laughs). I have my mechanic Rüdiger Becker to thank for my path leading me into road racing. He used to ride on the road racing scene at the time, including on the old racetrack in Schleiz. He suggested I should race in the “Three-Nation-Cup” in Frohburg. The race was held in September, and the IDM season, in which I was racing at the time, was already over by then anyway. Therefore, we decided to go to Frohburg. I finished third in the first race, then runner-up in race two. I discovered just how much fun road racing is – and stuck with it. Furthermore, circuit racing is far more expensive, while the costs in road racing are manageable and affordable.”

Question: “What is it you like so much about road racing?”

Grams: “The fans at the circuits, the friends you make and the solidarity among the riders. Everyone helps each other, and that is just awesome. Wherever you are, you are always welcome. You are accepted and accept everyone else. It is simply a wicked passion.”

From the circuit to the roof

Question: “You are in action on your BMW almost every weekend: in the IRRC, at other major road races, at smaller events – and also in the Endurance World Championship. You have even flown from one event to another on one weekend. Is it fair to say that racing is your life?”

Grams: “As my main job is a roofer, road racing is a hobby for me – but one that I am able to partake in so intensely thanks to BMW and my sponsors. It is certainly my big passion.”

Question: “You spend your weekends at racing circuits, and your weeks working as a roofer – how do you manage to combine the two?”

Grams: “If I don’t have any races on a weekend, I work normal hours – Monday to Friday, half past six to four or five in the evening. Even if I have had races on the weekend, I am often back on the roof again on the Monday. However, I am really lucky that my boss Mike Sydow is also absolutely crazy about racing. He used to be an Enduro works rider, and his son Jeremy is a successful motocross rider. Mike gives me plenty of leeway. For example, he has given me this week off so that I can prepare for the Bol d’Or this weekend. We will then travel back on the Sunday after the 24-hour race, and I’ll be back at work again on Monday. That will obviously be tough. You try to get some sleep on the way home, and you somehow manage to get through the first day back at work. When you come home, you have to go straight to bed. It is crazy – but doable. If you really want it to, it can work.”

Question: “Racing, job – do you have time for any other interests?”

Grams: “I like being out in the fresh air, love nature and do a lot of sport outside. I spend weekends, on which I have no races, in the Spreewald. I have a boat there and like to go water skiing. I also enjoy going camping – I just like being outside.” Question: “Does your family support you in your passion – or do they grumble a bit when Didier is packing his racing overalls for another weekend away?” Grams: “My family is right behind me. In the case of my three-year-old son, I sometimes have the feeling that he would also like to be a little racer. He already has a little electric motorbike. I met my girlfriend at the racetrack, so she is also bitten by the racing bug and supports me wholeheartedly.”

That is what makes BMW so special

Question: “The BMW S 1000 RR has conquered the international road racing scene in recent years. Why is the bike so popular – and so successful?”

Grams: “The basic version of the bike, which anyone can buy, is simply a great, reliable bike. All you have to do is attach some racing fairings and you are ready to hop on and go racing. You don’t need a lot of extra equipment to be fast. The basic bike does that for you anyway. With other manufacturers’ bikes, you have to spend another 20,000 Euros or more in order to make the bike competitive. On top of that, you have the support you receive from BMW Motorrad Motorsport. The engineers are always available to assist you. We never received that kind of support from other manufacturers. Kurt from HP Race Support, who is present at most of the road races, is really busy but always has time for everyone. That is worth an awful lot.”

Question: “What has been your best moment in motorsport so far?”

Grams: “The best moment came this May, when I won the iconic ‘300 Curves of Gustav Havel’ road race in Horice. That is something I will talk about for a long time. There is a board there, on which all the winners are honoured – I always wanted to get my name on that board, and I succeeded this year.”

Question: “You know a lot of the big road races. Which is your favourite, and why?”

Grams: “Macau. That is my very favourite. It is fantastic, when everyone is packing their bikes away for the winter, to travel all the way to Macau. It is unique to race through the urban jungle and between the crash barriers on the Guia Circuit. That is still a real highlight at the end of the year.”

Question: “What motorsport dreams would you still like to fulfil?”

Grams: “The main thing is to stay healthy. To win the International Road Racing Championship IRRC again would be a very big success. Another dream would be to finish in the top ten in Macau this year. That would be fantastic.”