DISAPPOINTMENT IN THE DESERT FOR BMP-ELF-99
The BMP-ELF-99 Racing Team looked all set to end the season with a podium finish at the 8 Hours of Doha, until a crash in the last two hours of the race lost them valuable time and they were forced to settle for sixth place at the chequered flag.
For six hours Sebastien Gimbert, Erwan Nigon and Damian Cudlin battled it out with SERT Suzuki for the race lead until, with less than two hours to go, a slower rider crashed in front of Gimbert on one of the fastest parts of the Losail circuit, forcing the Frenchman into the gravel trap and losing the team 45 minutes as they made repairs to a badly damaged BMW S1000RR.
Nigon rejoined the racing in ninth place, but had fought his way back up to fourth as he started the final lap. Coming onto the start finish straight for the final time, and with the chequered flag in sight, the BMP-ELF-99 BMW S1000RR slowed with fuel starvation problems and two riders managed to pass him in the final 100 metres, dropping him back to sixth.
It was a disappointing end to the race for the BMP-ELF-99 Racing Team, who'd dominated during practice and then qualified on pole with a lap time half a second quicker than that of their closest rivals. For Team Principal, Michael Bartholemy, it was another graphic illustration of just how tough racing in the Endurance World Championship can be.
"It's been something of a rollercoaster season," declared Bartholemy. "This season we've been almost untouchable in practice and qualifying, taking pole position three times in succession, but then our luck has deserted us in the races. We were particularly unlucky here in Qatar, with Sebastien forced to run off the track at high speed to avoid a fallen rider, otherwise we'd have been on the podium this weekend."
"We came into this championship at the start of the year with very few expectations, but those expectations increased with every race. We've run at the front of every single round of the championship this year, against rival teams with far more experience of endurance racing, and I think we've acquitted ourselves well in this, our debut season in a very competitive series."
"We've enjoyed unstinting support from Elf, BMW, Michelin and, at the start of the year, Dunlop as well. I am grateful for their support, without which we wouldn't have even started a race, never mind started from pole position three times."
"The fact that we have been competitive in our first year is down to the hard work and commitment of a large group of people. I want to thank all of them, but especially Pascal Herisson and Sachar Rodenbusch, both of whom have shown complete commitment to this project since it's inception. I'd also like to say a special thank you to Marc van der Straten for his support and enthusiasm, as well as the loan of the hospitality set-up at Le Mans and Magny-Cours."
"Will we be back next year? That's a good question. We are working now to ensure we have the best possible package for 2011; the three riders who did such a great job for us this season, the BMW S1000RR that has so much potential and a budget that will allow us to challenge once again for the championship." concluded Bartholemy.