-- Waters' BMW ride confirmed
BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent head into this weekend's 24 Heures Moto at Le
Mans, the final round of the 2013 Endurance World Championship, with their
sights set firmly on taking their first 24-hour race win.
Forced retirement from two of the four rounds this season, the Bol d'Or and
Suzuka, means that the team are effectively out of the running for the
championship title, despite a podium finish last time out at Oschersleben. Top
five in the championship is still a possibility with a good result in Le Mans,
but with the title out of their reach, a first 24-hour win for the team would be
a fitting way in which to finish the season.
Experienced endurance campaigner, Sébastien Gimbert, will lead the charge this
weekend, with the 36-year-old Frenchman joined on the #99 BMW S1000RR by fellow
countryman Sylvain Barrier, Australian Josh Waters and American Jake Zemke.
Gimbert, Barrier and Zemke all have experience of the BMW S1000RR, but this
weekend will be a baptism of fire for Waters, who will only throw a leg over the
bike for the first time during free practice tomorrow. However, the 26-year-old
Australian has plenty of endurance experience, most of which was gained on the
same Michelin tyres he'll race this weekend.
Waters was a lucky find for BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent. With the 24 Heures
Moto at Le Mans clashing with national Superbike events in Spain, Britain,
Germany and Italy, many of the non-French teams have struggled to secure riders
for this weekend's EWC season finale.
The 24 Heures Moto has been a highlight of the Le Mans calendar since the first
running of the event back in 1978. The race will be contested by 56 teams and
watched by an enthusiastic crowd more than 100,000 strong. Practice and
qualifying begins on Thursday 19th September and continues into Friday, with the
traditional "Le Mans" style start getting the race underway at 15H00 on Saturday
Sébastien Gimbert: "After the crashes at the Bol d'Or and Suzuka, the
championship for us is out of reach. But, it is important to finish this season
in the best way, and the best way for the team, for BMW, for Michelin and for my
teammates and me is with a win. We don't need to be focussed on being the
fastest on track in every session, or on pole position. We need to focus only on
setting up the bike to give us the best chance of finishing the race. The bike
is certainly up to the job. We have a new engine for this weekend, revised
electronics and the team has made a lot of progress with the chassis since
Oschersleben. We are as well prepared as we can be, and that brings confidence,
but we can't forget that this is 24-hour racing and anything can happen. Our job
as riders is to race hard, stay out of trouble, manage the changing weather
conditions that are always a feature here at Le Mans and finish in the best
position possible, preferably on the podium and, hopefully, on the top step."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal - "Once again we will race with a different
rider line up at Le Mans because this race, like all the other EWC rounds this
season, clashes with almost every major national Superbike Championship in
Europe. Because of this it's proved incredibly difficult for the non-French
teams to secure good riders, which is a ridiculous situation for a World
Championship to be in. More care needs to be taken with the calendar in future
if EWC is to be taken seriously outside of France. But, we're here now and our
bike, our tyres and our riders are all capable of pushing for the win here this
weekend. Sébastien and Sylvain know the bike and tyres well, while Jake's
familiarity with both is increasing. Josh is new to the team and to our BMW
S1000RR, but he has the all-important experience on Michelin tyres, so I'm
confident he'll be up to speed quickly. A win in the biggest race of the season,
our first in a 24-hour race, would be some consolation for the team, for BMW and
for Michelin, in what has been a difficult season."