IMPRESSIVE QUALIFYING PERFORMANCE FOR BMP-ELF-99
The BMP-ELF-99 Racing Team will start tomorrow's 33rd running of the prestigious 24 Heures Moto at Le Mans from third position, following an impressive Superpole performance this afternoon by Matthieu Lagrive.
Lagrive, who set the fastest individual time during normal qualifying, finished fifth fastest in the first Superpole shootout to progress into the second 12-minute session. Fourth place on the timesheet guaranteed the four time Endurance World Champion a place in the final ten-minute shootout, where he posted the third fastest time, as the top eight riders went head to head to decide the starting positions for tomorrow's race.
"I was happy to qualify third but I know that, if we didn't have the chatter problem, it was possible to finish on pole position today," commented Matthieu Lagrive. "With the bike as it is at the moment it's difficult to push really hard, but we can ride round the problem and still do reasonable lap times, so we're in a good position for the race. 24-hour races are always difficult to predict, but if we don't run into any major problems then I think there's a good chance we could leave here on Sunday afternoon with a podium finish. That's certainly what all three riders and the team are aiming for; I don't think it's an unrealistic goal given our pace during practice and qualifying. We've had a good start to the weekend and I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow."
For the BMP-ELF-99 Racing Team to able to compete the full factory supported teams on their Endurance World Championship debut was just reward for the four riders and the team members, who have all worked tirelessly and overcome many obstacles to ensure that the team would be on the grid at Le Mans this weekend.
Starting late in the pre-season, and with no factory support on which to fall back on, Pascal Herisson and his crew built a competitive race bike from the ground up, which was then refined and improved during testing by all four riders; Matthieu Lagrive, Damian Cudlin, Werner Daemen and Marc Fissette.
The end result was clearly shown today as the BMP-ELF-99 Racing Team qualified the bike in third place, just 0.7s behind two of the most experienced factory teams in the Endurance World Championship and ahead of many more.
"I want to say a big thank you to everyone involved with the BMP-ELF-99 Racing Team for today's qualifying performance," declared Team Principal, Michael Bartholemy. "There are a lot of people who have made today possible; from sponsors like Elf, partners such as Bischoff and Scheck, the people in the team who have put in a massive amount of work and, not least of all, our four riders, who have done a fantastic job during testing, practice and qualifying. Without them we wouldn't even be here, never mind qualifying as the fastest privateer team and starting the biggest endurance race in the world from third place. So, to all of them, I want to say a huge thank you."
"Of course, we want to do well in the race tomorrow, but we have to be realistic as well. If everything goes according to plan then there's no reason why we can't finish in the top five. But, and it's a big but, this is endurance racing and there are a 1000 minor things that can conspire against you during 24 hours of racing that could result in you not even reaching the chequered flag. I hope we won't fall foul to any of them, but it's always a possibility in the hardest of all two-wheeled motorsport disciplines. As long as we leave here on Sunday knowing that we did our very best then I'll be happy with that, whatever the final result," concluded Bartholemy.
Tomorrow's 24 Heures Moto race will get underway with the traditional "Le Mans style" start at 15.00 local time, with the finish 24 hours later on Sunday afternoon. The leading teams will complete almost 800 laps around the 4.185km Bugatti circuit during the race, which equates to more than 3000km under racing conditions.