Knight and Salminen share wins at World Enduro season finale
— BMW Report
As factory rider Juha Salminen parked his BMW 450 X inside the Parc Fermé at St Flour, France, all the pressure of a demanding season fell off his shoulders. Salminen had clinched runner-up honours in the hotly contested World Enduro Championship (WEC), to become Vice World Champ in the toughest class of them all: the E2 category. Now, after a difficult start to the campaign, he and his team had reason to celebrate.
The success came as a result of hard and tirelessly work carried out in the past year. The first races didn´t go according to plan and the BMW Motorrad Motorsport riders struggled to get familiar with their machinery. But the whole staff kept working on every detail and, step by step, the factory bikes became better and better.
“The season was too short in the end,” said Juha Salminen. The quiet Finn referred to his impressive finish in the series, where he scored a number of wins and second places. Maybe, with some more races left, the title could have gone his way. The team earned two wins, one runner-up position and a third place at the final two meetings in Greece and France.
These achievements tell a lot about BMW´s competitiveness. Brand and bike now clearly belong to the top league. Both in the WEC and off road racing in general. This is further underlined by Simo Kirssi´s Cross Country success and Andreas Lettenbichler´s recent top results this June and August. The German finished third at the Erzberg before putting his BMW on top of the podium at the infamous Red Bull Romaniacs.
The World Enduro season is in the books, but work continues for the riders. The Six Days (team world championships) are to follow in October and Simo Kirssi plans to defend his German and European Cross Country title. And the “extreme” division is gearing up towards the Roof of Africa, the legendary extreme rally held in the Lesotho mountains. Andreas Lettenbichler goes there with the ambition to bring this victory to Munich also.
Berti Hauser, Director BMW Motorrad Motorsport: “First of all I would like to congratulate Juha and the team. This is a remarkable success, just like the achievements of Simo and Marko (Tarkalla). Admittedly, before the season, we aimed at the title. But we soon had to realise that this was too ambitious. We suffered a bit at the beginning. Yet, with strong commitment and plenty of passion coming from Markus Theobald, Wolfgang Fischer and their staff, we did manage to turn things around.
“They addressed the specifics of WEC racing and soon Juha was able to fight for podium positions. But we wanted more. We wanted to win and we wanted the vice championship. And that´s exactly what we got.
“I´m touched and proud to see the team alter from the middle of the field into a front-runner. Juha ended only six points behind the world champ, he did take the vice title and he guided us to runner-up in the manufacturer´s championship. This success is based on a lot of work. Obviously we´re delighted. The team has all the ingredients to be capturing the title in the future.”
— Knight Report
At the end of what has been a hugely challenging season, Kawasaki Superbike Racing Team rider David Knight claimed victory at the final round of the 2009 World Enduro Championship when the GP of France staged in St Flour this weekend.
Proving that he is without question still one of the world’s very best Enduro racers, the Manxman battled hard during both days to claim the runner-up spot in the E2 class on day one before topping the E2 podium on day two aboard his Kawasaki KX450F.
After finishing fourth and third in the Enduro 2 class at the GP of Greece on his first outing for Kawasaki, Knight’s second and first place results in France show that despite his mid-season change of machinery he never gave up on ending 2009 with a win. In topping the Enduro 2 class on day two David claimed his first ever E2 class victory, and with it put in one of the event’s most impressive performances.
David Knight: “It’s been a great weekend. With everything that’s happened this season this is the first time that I’ve felt like I’ve really been able to focus on just racing and this win really means a lot. We’ve not had the luxury of a winter’s testing so it’s been a case of trying different things, guessing sometimes, to turn a standard motocross bike into a machine capable of winning at World Enduro Championship level, which we’ve done. I had some new parts in my engine this weekend, which worked really well, but it took me a little while to get used to them. I made one mistake on day one and I think it cost me the win but I didn’t want to push too hard too soon. I wanted to wait and see if the others made mistakes, before staying safe on the last lap. It’s great to end the season with a win and I have to say a huge thanks to my team.”
Stuart Bland (Enduro Team Co-ordinator): “David rode really well this weekend, increasing his pace on every test and gaining confidence with the set-up of the bike. The team has worked really well since the last race, making small changes to the KX450F which is proving to be an excellent bike at this level. All of this wouldn’t be possible without the help of Kawasaki and our sponsors and I’d like to say a specific word of thanks to Kawasaki France for their help over the last two events.”
Steve Guttridge (Kawasaki European Race Planning Manager): “I’m so happy that David has proved his form on the KX450F. It’s great to see him back at the sharp end again so soon after joining KSRT. Now the bike is fully set up for Enduro and Knighter is full of confidence, I’m sure we are going to see much more of him in the future.”
Results 2009 WEC Round 8, GP of France
Enduro 2 class, Day 1
1. Juha Salminen (BMW) 48.55:88; 2. David Knight (Kawasaki Superbike Racing Team) 49.03:24; 3. Cristobal Guerrero (Yamaha) 49.09:38
Enduro 2 class, Day 2
1. David Knight (Kawasaki Superbike Racing Team) 55.38:23; 2. Rodrig Thain (TM) 55.51:39; 3. Juha Salminen (BMW) 56.02:95