BMW Motorrad BoxerCup Le Mans race notes

Hinterreiter's Pole To Flag Win Round two of the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2004 saw Austria's Thomas Hinterreiter come through as the winner in a race where there were five different leaders, touching of fairings and a crash that saw the comfortable...

Hinterreiter's Pole To Flag Win

Round two of the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2004 saw Austria's Thomas Hinterreiter come through as the winner in a race where there were five different leaders, touching of fairings and a crash that saw the comfortable leader of the race tumble into the gravel. It certainly set the scene for the remaining six races of the series that is held in conjunction with MotoGP races all over Europe.

Hinterreiter started from a brilliant pole position in front of packed grandstands that were bathed in sunshine for the hottest conditions of the entire weekend with temperatures hitting 26 degrees celcius. Alongside him on the front row were former champion Stephane Mertens (B), plus former race winners Markus Barth (D), Sebastien Legrelle (B) whilst behind him was the winner from the opening round of the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup 2004, Brian Parriot (USA).

The rush to the first corner resulted in Legrelle emerging the leader in front of Barth and Hinterreiter, but that was not to be for many corners as immediately the pace hotted up with then Barth, Roberto Panichi (I) and Mertens each taking the lead before lap 5.

By Lap 8 there was a nine rider leading group split by a mere 1.7 seconds, but this was even more incredible because at the back of this pack was local French rider Gwen Giabbani who started from 5th on the grid but nearly flipped his BMW R 1100 S as the lights went green when he let the clutch in too aggressively. He ended up by being dead last and 29th into the first corner, so for him to even be in sight of the leaders was a truly tremendous ride.

At the head of the pack, Mertens got his rhythm going to lead the race by nearly a full second into lap 12 of 17, but then drama struck as he fell at the chicane. For such an experienced rider to make such a mistake proved how competitive it was up front. He was uninjured but had to walk away from a certain podium. Hinterreiter saw his chance and jumped from 4th to 1st from which he was never headed. That left the other 8 riders nose-to- tail and all over each other, but come the last three laps it was Barth, Legrelle and Parriott who were going be second or third, and no-one wanted to be fourth! That was soon decided when Legrelle charged through on the last lap into the chicane to claim second, but then have the bike suddenly slow on him leaving him to limp home in 10th. Barth rode a fast lap to net 2nd, and Parriott to get 3rd after his Daytona win.

Ironically it was the same three on the podium at Le Mans as at the opening round in Daytona, this time Hinterreiter the victor. "I am so happy to win this race. I was watching Mertens get away and I was thinking I had to go with him, but then he fell so I went for the chance to get ahead of the group as they were slowing each other down. After second in the USA, I'm very happy to lead the championship going to Mugello. "Markus Barth said after the race, "Legrelle was always making some brave passes on the brakes into the corners, but it just held us up at let Thomas get away. I'm happy to be second though as this is a series where you have to score in every race and not crash at all."

Perhaps the best result came from Brian Parriott who had come to France as a pure privateer, servicing his own San José BMW R 1100 S bike in the paddock all weekend. "I'd not touched the bike after Daytona until I arrived here so to get this result is brilliant. I thought I had second as I felt a little better on the brakes than the others, but to be up in amongst these others with two podiums after two races I'm very happy indeed and can't wait for Mugello in three weeks times."

BMW Motorrad BoxerCup spokesman Randy Mamola was watching trackside. The organisers here put on a real show for the fans tonight and the BMWs have kicked off a real summer holiday atmosphere for the crowd. In the race, even I don't know how they race the bikes so closely up to Turn One, but they are friends off the track and realise their limits. Finally, although I have to be neutral, it's a great feeling watching a bike from my hometown in California get third on the podium on the other side of the Word from where it came." The next round of the championship is June 5th at the Italian Grand Prix venue of Mugello in the heart of the Tuscany countryside. For photos and further information, please register on the BMW Press Club : - www.bmw-motorrad.com

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About this article
Series Other bike
Drivers Randy Mamola , Stéphane Mertens , Gwen Giabbani , Brian Parriott