BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2003 Le Mans preview

Le Mans launches BoxerCup at the MotoGP The third round of the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2003 will be held on Saturday May 24th, on the eve of the French Motorcycle Grand Prix, representing the first of six Grand Prix venues for the BoxerCup riders.

Le Mans launches BoxerCup at the MotoGP

The third round of the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2003 will be held on Saturday May 24th, on the eve of the French Motorcycle Grand Prix, representing the first of six Grand Prix venues for the BoxerCup riders. With a win in the opening Daytona round plus a fine second place in Oulton Park behind Britain's Richard Cooper despite uneven track conditions, Italy's ex-Superbike rider Roberto Panichi leads the series with a 16 point advantage over the ever consistent Swiss Andy Hofmann.

Although he has already outdistanced his opponents to a relatively large extent in only two races, the hot-blooded Roberto Panichi knows he is to expect some tough opposition throughout the nine-event series. In secret, he admits rating Austria's Thomas Hinterreiter as his biggest opponent. "He's not been fortunate so far but can definitely ride hard and usually is very consistent." In Oulton Park three weeks ago, Hinterreiter was at the forefront before an early race incident with another of the BoxerCup's hot riders, Markus Barth. Both pilots touched cylinders and Hinterreiter was left to charge from 13th place on lap two to 8th overall. By that time, Panichi and Cooper were obviously too far ahead, with British youngster taking full advantage of his tyre choice full wets as the rain resumed halfway through the race.

As experienced as he is tall, Swiss ace Andy Hofmann is still very much in contention for the 2003 BMW Motorrad BoxerCup title. 4th in Daytona and 3rd in Oulton Park, this authentic gentleman rider knows the way round Le Mans, where he finished on the podium in 2001.

But as in England three weeks ago where the British riders benefited from their comprehensive track knowledge, one can expect the Team Reseau France riders, with backing from the Scrab MotoGP technical structure, to perform well on their home ground. French police instructor Francois Ciciliani is determined to overcome his disappointing start to the season, while 19 and 20 year old Laurry Fremy and Guillaume Dietrich have already shown their potential, especially in Daytona where Dietrich was second before the race was interrupted.

A few days after testing in Le Mans all three French riders attended the Coupes Moto Legende in Montlhery last weekend, Europe's biggest motorcycle collectors meeting. A big parade was organized for BMW Motorrad's 80th anniversary, with Ciciliani, Fremy and Dietrich heading a pack of 2 500 BMW customer machines on the legendary banked oval racetrack, among which BMW's very first flat-twin powered model, the 1923 R 32, and the later 1924 R 37 model.

Compared to the BoxerCup's last Le Mans venue in 2001, the track has been shortened and modified after the Dunlop bridge, and the Chapelle corner, which follows, is totally new. Besides, the BMW R 1100 S machines have undergone several modifications, with an adjusted ride height allowing for greater ground clearance. Corner speeds should therefore be higher. Finally the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup switched to Metzeler tyres last season, with a direct result on lap times some of which improved by up to two seconds from 2001 to 2002.

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Series Other bike
Drivers Guillaume Dietrich , Laurry Fremy , Richard Cooper