BMW Motorrad BoxerCup Spa-Francorchamps race report

Youngster Richard Cooper "S" defeats the "old men" in rain-soaked Spa. The fifth round of the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2002, held in dismally wet conditions in Spa-Francorchamps prior to the "24 Heures de Liège" endurance race, saw eighteen...

Youngster Richard Cooper "S" defeats the "old men" in rain-soaked Spa.

The fifth round of the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2002, held in dismally wet conditions in Spa-Francorchamps prior to the "24 Heures de Liège" endurance race, saw eighteen year-old rookie Richard Cooper defeat Markus Barth and Norbert Rebholz to the podium. Initially track conditions were merely damp, but tyre choice became a complete gamble as heavy rain poured on the racetrack after only three laps of the shortened eight-lap race. Expecting for the asphalt to dry, favourites such as Mertens, Hofmann, Hinterreiter and Panichi fitted either dry or intermediate tyres and were doomed to move down the field, while initial winner Dirk Buylinckx was later disqualified when his machine failed to pass the post- race technical check.

Richard Cooper (with teammate Morrison during dry practice) wins round 5 of the BMW BoxerCup

"I told you I'd show the old men how to race !" said BoxerCup rookie Richard Cooper jokingly as he walked down the rostrum, a wide grin on his face. "But there was no way I could expect such a result because I only qualified sixteenth on the starting grid, with both qualifying sessions in the dry, and absolutely no experience of the circuit in wet conditions."

But the short BMW UK rider's gamble was about to pay off. "Already in the sighting lap it was starting to rain at the far end of the track, and I realised fitting rain tyres was the right choice, especially seeing that most of my opponents were either on intermediates or on full drys".

Fourth behind Legrelle, Hofmann and Buylinckx after one lap, Cooper soon moved up to second when Andy Hofmann crashed on lap three as heavy rain struck, with Sébastien Legrelle also moving down the field when his intermediate rear tyre failed to perform as well as the full wet Metzeler tyres. Needless to say that on dry tyres Mertens - who had secured pole position a full three seconds faster compared to last year's fastest practice lap (2'41''550 compared to Hofmann's 2'44''823 in 2001) - also had to revise his expectations. The Belgian title defender dropped back from 6th position on lap one but nevertheless rode an extremely brave race and finished 15th amongst the BMW BoxerCup permanent riders. Also hindered by an inadequate tyre choice (intermediates front and rear), Thomas Hinterreiter only managed to score four championship points, but now shares the provisional lead of the championship with Mertens.

Both suffering from injuries, Markus Barth (broken rib after crashing last week in Assen) and Norbert Rebholz (badly burnt hand in Mugello after a post-race incident) were the real heroes of the day. "It wasn't so much the broken rib that bothered me, but my right arm which was almost completely numb," admitted Barth, now only 8 points behind the championship leaders. "I had to miss Catalunya and Assen and allow my burnt hand to heal, but this result is so unexpected," said Rebholz. "The race was a nightmare. After three laps it was raining so hard you could barely see the track," said the BMW Motorrad engineer.

Hardly expecting to finish within the points after qualifying 25th because of an engine he described as "lazy", French police instructor François Ciciliani also had every reason to be satisfied after clinching the points for fourth position. "We're going to check the bike first thing on Monday and see what's wrong, and I hope to perform as well in Sachsenring in a fortnight's time." <pre>

Race classification (8 laps = 55,68 km) Best Last Pos Nr. Rider Nat. Gap time lap COOPER 1 47 Richard UK 3:02.036 3:02.788 BARTH 2 6 Markus D 2 969 3:02.209 3:02.209 REBHOLZ 3 35 Norbert D 5 091 3:03.047 3:03.535 CICILIANI 4 59 François F 26 920 3:06.058 3:06.058 LEGRELLE 5 21 Sébastien B 41 926 3:04.290 3:04.995 BUSQUETS 6 36 Alex E 46 603 3:07.912 3:09.585 LAZZARINI 7 79 Ivan I 46 953 3:04.290 3:04.290 NIES 8 22 Klaus D 1:00.190 3:06.932 3:06.932 CRISTOBAL 9 16 Fernando E 1:00.931 3:08.261 3:08.261 SCOTT 10 12 Gus UK 1:01.632 3:09.672 3:09.672 EIBL 10 217 Leonhard D 1:09.160 3:04.150 3:04.150 MACBRIDE 12 4 Tony UK 1:14.757 3:07.936 3:07.936 HINTERREITER 13 7 Thomas A 1:18.819 3:10.017 3:12.172 MARIA BUSQUETS 14 8 Josep E 1:31.431 3:12.238 3:12.238 MORRISON 15 11 Brian UK 1:43.129 3:09.475 3:09.475 MERTENS 16 1 Stéphane B 1:43.220 3:10.061 3:10.061 FASTRE 17 48 Grégory B 1:45.783 3:09.501 3:24.584 MANDELARTZ 18 13 Herbert D 1:54.408 3:13.395 3:13.395 BECK 19 58 Felix CH 3:27.286 3:23.240 3:29.303

Not classified STIGEFELT 216 Johan S ==4== 3:17.698 3:37.348 LAGRIVE 85 Mathieu F ==3== 3:11.004 3:37.532 HAQUIN 91 Christian F 14 780 3:18.983 3:44.711 PANICHI 99 Roberto I 19 101 3:16.589 3:59.218 NYSTROM 10 Tobias S 21 224 3:21.359 3:48.964 CALASSO 9 Antonio I 30 671 3:25.245 3:59.537 DAHNE 24 Helmut D 45 255 3:32.673 3:54.032 HOFMANN 5 Andy CH 1:12.201 3:10.856 5:06.039 THOMAS 31 Philippe F ==2== 3:09.228 3:09.228 CASAER 37 Steven B 23 653 3:31.786 3:31.786 OUDEMAN 14 Jeroen NL 49 797 3:43.791 3:43.791 HOBI 20 Jakob CH 1:02.162 3:53.235 3:53.235 RENAULT 33 Franck F 1:19.173 4:03.014 4:03.014 VAN DIJK 3 Lex NL ==1== 59:59.999 3:36.492 RUBATTO 25 Peter D 34 787 59:59.999 4:11.279

Disqualified BUYLINCK 45 Dirk B 3:00.735 3:01.792 BUSQUETS 27 Agusti E 3:04.082 3:09.732 JIMENEZ 17 Miguel Angel E 3:02.882 3:02.882

Provisional standings after round 5 of 8 Nr. Team Rider 28.4. 1.6. 15.6. 30.6. 6.7. Points 1 1 BMW Belgium/Faignoy Motor Stéphane Mertens 20 0 20 25 1 66 7 Team Austria-Hinterreiter Thomas Hinterreiter 11 16 25 10 4 66 3 6 BMW Group Niederlassungen Racing Team Markus Barth 25 13 0 0 20 58 4 5 Motorrad Senger Racing Team Andy Hofmann 0 20 16 20 0 56 47 BMW Motorrad Great Britain Richard Cooper 8 9 7 7 25 56 6 21 BMW Belgium/Herpigny Motor Sébastien Legrelle 16 11 0 16 11 54 7 99 Dream Car Team Roberto Panichi 13 25 0 9 0 47 8 11 BMW Motorrad Great Britain Brian Morrison 10 8 13 0 2 33 9 79 Solo Moto Ivan Lazzarini 2 10 11 0 9 32 10 12 BMW Motorrad Great Britain Gus Scott 6 7 6 5 6 30 11 16 Interviú/Busquets Fernando Cristóbal 0 0 8 11 7 26 12 31 Ducos Moto Philippe Thomas 3 6 9 3 0 21 59 BRH Motos François Ciciliani 4 0 4 0 13 21 35 Das Boxer Team Norbert Rebholz 0 5 0 0 16 21 15 17 Interviú/Busquets Javier Rodriguez 5 2 10 0 0 17 16 22 Bernhardt + Röhrich Klaus Nies 0 3 3 2 8 16 17 9 Motociclismo Antonio Calasso 9 0 0 6 0 15 18 48 BMW Belgium/A.M. Superbike Grégory Fastré 0 4 2 8 0 14 19 85 Team Le Brasseur Matthieu Lagrive 0 0 0 13 0 13 20 45 BMW Belgium/Bavarian Motorsport Dirk Buylinckx 7 0 0 4 0 11 36 Interviú/Busquets Alex Busquets 0 0 0 1 10 11 22 37 BMW Belgium/Lievens Mechanics Steven Casaer 0 0 5 0 0 5 4 SPC Tony MacBride 0 0 0 0 5 5 24 8 Interviú/Busquets Josep Maria Busquets 0 0 0 0 3 3 25 13 Hakvoort-Klipfel Racing Herbert Mandelartz 0 1 0 0 0 1 3 Gilex Racing Lex van Dijk 1 0 0 0 0 1 27 Interviú/Busquets Agustí Busquets 0 0 1 0 0 1 28 14 Nico Bakker Jeroen Oudeman 0 0 0 0 0 0 29 20 Hobi-Moto Jakob Hobi 0 0 0 0 0 0 30 33 Moto Technic Franck Renault 0 0 0 0 0 0 31 10 BMW Sweden Tobias Nyström 0 0 0 0 0 0 32 91 Sport Garage Stéphane Coutelle 0 0 0 0 0 0

-bmw-

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