With the clock ticking down to the start of the second 24H SPA EWC Motos (16-18 June), the 2022 race-winning trio of Jérémy Guarnoni, Illya Mykhalchyk and Markus Reiterberger have been looking back on BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team’s standout triumph of last year.
The Belgian squad started its home round of the FIM Endurance World Championship in early June 2022 determined to hit back after it retired from the Le Mans season opener the previous April. And with the EWC returning to the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for the first time in 21 years, there was no better moment to push for a first 24-hour race victory.
But as well as the efforts of riders Guarnoni, Mykhalchyk and Reiterberger, BMW’s success owed plenty to the expertise of the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team led by former competitor Werner Daemen, plus the reliability of the Dunlop-equipped BMW M1000RR.
Following a battle for the lead between Mykhalchyk and YART Yamaha’s Marvin Fritz, however, it was the Japanese marque in front after 18 hours. But its advantage would not last when the #7 YZF-R1, with Fritz’s team-mate Niccolò Canepa onboard, suffered engine failure and retired, leaving BMW to claim its first win in an EWC-counting 24-hour race and follow up on its maiden triumph in the championship in the 6 Hours of Most in October 2021.
Guarnoni, who was tasked with completing the Spa race, which was restarted in wet conditions following a lengthy suspension due to an oil spill on track, clearly remembers the moment when he took the chequered flag riding the #37 BMW.
“It was my first year with BMW and I know they had never won a [24-hour race in EWC] so it was quite emotional for them and me also, but in Spa for a Belgium team it was top,” said Frenchman Guarnoni. “I remember when our crew chief told me, ‘you have to finish the race’, but in the rain and with only 28 minutes to go it was quite stressful but good pressure. I said to my crew chief, ‘you see with me you are going to win a 24 hour’ and it happened so my prediction [came true].”
Of his battle for the lead with Fritz, Ukraine rider Mykhalchyk said: “It was a really nice battle with Marvin. We had a few battles in the past in IDM and one race I won and one race he beat me. This was the third time fighting and it was really nice. I was enjoying the riding and this clever overtaking from each one. It was special because we win at the home track of the team. After the bad luck at Le Mans we won our first 24-hour race and proved our team worked.”
Reiterberger was on the #37 when BMW won the 6 Hours of Most by 0.070s in the closest finish in EWC history. But a first victory in an FIM Endurance World Championship-counting 24-hour race was a “special moment” for the German.
“It was a very special moment,” said Reiterberger. “For sure it was difficult especially in the end with the weather conditions. I was very proud and happy to win my first 24-hour race together with my team-mates. But this victory belonged to the team because they worked their asses off for the last few years and they deserved to win this race. Maybe we were not the fastest but we made no mistakes and the technical [side] was working well.”
Werner Daemen said leading the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team to victory in his home round of the EWC was a “dream come true”. The successful FIM Endurance World Championship rider turned team boss said: “The race was incredible. The first hour was like a superbike sprint and really exciting for the nerves. And the rest of the race, the guys did a very good job. I think we are the only team that did not make any mistakes. We were maybe not the fastest, but we made no mistakes and in endurance that pays off in the end.
“We went with a gap of eight laps into the final minutes. It is a dream that has come true. As a Belgian guy who said 20 years ago ‘once I will come back to win’ that is a dream. This is something that nobody can take away from us. A big thank you to the team, to BMW and all our partners and sponsors who made this possible. Without them, you cannot race. And also especially to the riders who did an incredible job.”
TICKETS ON SALE
Ticket packages to suit a wide range of budgets and requirements are on sale for the second running of the 24H SPA EWC Motos via the dedicated section at www.24hspamotos.com. They include a three-day admission ticket currently available at an advance price of €79, a Friday-only ticket for €40 and a Sunday-only ticket for the same price. Children under the age of 16 are admitted free. As well as Fan Zone access, the three-day ticket and Friday ticket include paddock and grandstand access, access to the spectator terracing and banking, a meet the riders area and a pitlane walk. There are also various VIP hospitality packages for sale, while camping facilities are being provided at two sites around the circuit.
KEY TIMINGS RECAP:
Friday 16 June:
10h00-11h00, Free Practice
12h00-14h00, First Qualifying
15h15-17h15, Second Qualifying
21h00-23h00, Night Practice
Saturday 17 June:
14h00, Start of 24H SPA EWC Motos