The eighth and final race of the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2004 took place this afternoon in front of over 122,000 fans at the Valencia MotoGP race where crowds saw a thrilling BMW race, and yet another new winner in the series with Frenchman Gwen Giabbani victorious with his Team Reseau France bike. Giabbani started from the front row and battled between pole sitter Sebastien Legrelle and former champion Stephane Mertens around the 4 km track regularly just millimetres apart from each other with their BMW R 1100 S machines. Third was Jose Luis Nion who took a brilliant podium in front of his home crowd with his Spanish run Auto Sport Busquets bike. The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for the home town hero...
Although Austrian Thomas Hinterreiter had wrapped up the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2004 at the previous race in Brno, there was still a race within a race because the battle for second place in the BoxerCup was still up for grabs with Brian Parriott, Roberto Panichi and Markus Barth all in contention for the prize of a brand new BMW Z4 2.2. Daytona winner Parriott qualified second well ahead of his rivals and maintained second early on.
However, the pace at the front was electrifying for the big hitters who were gunning for the second place in the title hunt, but Panichi crashed out, while Mertens was black flagged after the safety installed cylinder head covers broke loose and fell off. Parriott stealthily kept to his rythym as others around him found the pace too hot. "I'm so relieved that is over but I knew I could do it especially after such a good qualifying time. A brilliant season that is now all worth it!" Said the American.
Leaders Legrelle and Giabbani were never more than one second apart after the sixth lap such was their pace. It was brilliant to see them using all of the track and them the kerbs as both were gunning for their first victory of the season.
Giabbani said atop of the podium, "From the practice sessions I knew I could win this one even though I had to learn a new track. The difficult thing out there was knowing if it was best to lead the last lap, or pounce upon Sebastien from second. I just went for it and it worked. A brilliant day for me and the team."
It was a good day too for Giabbani's team mate Guillaume Dietrich who was the first YoungStar rider over the line in 4th just ahead of Britain's Richard Cooper who has won the BMW YoungStar 2004 title for the best under 21 rider. He collects the keys to a new Mini Cooper this evening at the season ending party.
Just 3.6 seconds back of Cooper was Markus Barth who has finished 3rd overall in the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2004, netting himself a brand new BMW R 1200 GS.
That brings to a close the BMW BoxerCup series under the sunny skies of Valencia. Next year a series based on the K1200R 4 cylinder machine is going to continue BMW's long Motor Cycle racing history. Further details will be announced soon.