ENDURANCE: BMP-ELF-99 Le Mans race report

BMP-ELF-99 IN THE POINTS AT LE MANS The BMP-ELF-99 Racing Team set a new lap record and finished 15th in their EWC debut at Le Mans, after fighting back from 43rd position following an electrical problem seven hours into the race that cost ...

BMP-ELF-99 IN THE POINTS AT LE MANS

The BMP-ELF-99 Racing Team set a new lap record and finished 15th in their EWC debut at Le Mans, after fighting back from 43rd position following an electrical problem seven hours into the race that cost them more than 90 minutes in the pits.

Having qualified in third position for the race, the BMP-ELF-99 team were running comfortably in the top four, despite losing two minutes during a planned stop caused by a problem with the refuelling rig. But disaster struck just seven hours into the race when, during a rider changeover and fuelling stop, the lighting system on the bike failed.

"We switched off the lights on the bike to refuel and, when we went to switch them back on again the lighting system failed," explained Team Principal, Michael Bartholemy. "It took us some time to identify exactly where the fault was, and then even more time to rectify the problem."

The team were forced to change the complete wiring harness on the bike to rectify the fault, meaning that Damian Cudlin only rejoined the race in the ninth hour, returning to the track in 43rd position.

Despite the lowly position, the team decided to battle on for the full 24 hours with the aim of at least finishing in the points. Matthieu Lagrive, four times a World Endurance Champion, set the pace with a new lap record as he battled his way through the field, while Cudlin was consistently the fastest rider on track during his stints on the bike. The team's third rider, Werner Daemen, managed to hold position during his hour-long sessions and, with just three hours of the race remaining, the team had clawed their way back up to 15th and a points scoring position, which they held to the chequered flag.

"We didn't come here to make up the numbers so, when we dropped down to 43rd place we really did consider calling it a day," declared Bartholemy. "But, we're a new team and we're learning all the time, so we decided to continue and treat the race as an extended test session. We also didn't want to let Dunlop down, as they've been incredibly supportive of the team and the data collected over the 24 hours will be important for their development program, which we would obviously benefit from."

"I can't say I'm happy to have finished in 15th position, even if we did pick up a point, because we had the potential to be aiming for the podium. We made some mistakes as a team and we also suffered our fair share of bad luck but, by continuing, we also learned a lot that will stand us in good stead in future races. All three riders did a great job this weekend. I know they are as disappointed with the result as I am, but they didn't once lose motivation and fought their way back with some excellent riding. Matthieu's lap record is some consolation, but no problems and a podium finish would have been much better."

"I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone in the team; they've all worked so hard to make our EWC debut here at Le Mans a reality, as have our sponsors and partners, although I'm a little dismayed we weren't able to repay their faith in us with a better result this weekend. Now that we've seen we have the potential to be competitive in the Endurance World Championship, we'll be looking for nothing less than a win next time out in Albacete," concluded Bartholemy.

-source: bmp elf 99

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