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MICHELIN and BMW triumph in EWC at Doha, QatarThu Jun 14 18:05:00 SGT 2012
The second round of the 2012 Endurance World Championship (June 8-9) saw MICHELIN and its partner team BMW Motorrad France Thevent clinch the victory at the Doha 8 Hours in Qatar. After winning the same event in 2011 with the GMT 94 Yamaha, it is a second straight win for the French tire manufacturer at Losail.
In 2011, the N°99 BMW had to settle for second sport in Doha, so it was understandably hoping for revenge this time round.
BMW Motorrad France Thevent’s three riders profited from the consistency and versatility of their MICHELIN tires to dominate Saturday’s race from flag to flag.
Erwan NIGON started the eight-hour competition for the team and posted some quick times in the course of his opening stint, producing what would be the fastest race lap (2m1.231s) round the Qatari venue. He lost no time pulling out a comfortable margin thanks to a quick, consistent pace as he did his best to comply with his team manager’s wish which was to have a 30-second lead by the first round of refuelling stops. In the end, the French BMW rider succeeded in pulling 23 seconds clear of the Monster Yamaha YART and GMT 94 MICHELIN-equipped Yamahas. The natural pecking order was then upset by a Safety Car interruption as the teams began their second stints, but GIMBERT, CUDLIN and NIGON stayed focused and extended their lead before taking the chequered flag by a comfortable winning margin.
The result underlines the competitiveness of the BMW Motorrad France Thevent bike/riders/tire package. MICHELIN’s technicians, developers and engineers had produced some new technical solutions for the championship’s second round, including a specific specification for the asymmetric rear tires available to the firm’s partner teams at Losail. They proved particularly versatile and consistent, and provided first class grip despite the frequently changing track conditions which were influenced by sand blown onto the surface by wind, as well as by extreme heat, with ground temperatures ranging from 30°C to 45°C. The savoir-faire of the French tire manufacturer enabled it to overcome all the traditional difficulties of the Doha 8 Hours.
MICHELIN’s three partners monopolized the provisional podium as the teams completed their first stints.
However, Yamaha Racing France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube’s run was spoiled by mechanical trouble during its third stint and the bike officially retired on Lap 61. Despite his understandable disappointment, team boss Christophe GUYOT remains confident for the remainder of the series. “We’re pretty sure we know what the problem was and we think we know what we will find when we strip the engine,” he reported. “This engine had 40 hours on the clock, so there is no cause for undue concern. The problem was a result of the heat…”
Said Nicolas GOUBERT (Technical Director, MICHELIN Group Competition Department: “We saw a clear domination of the MICHELIN runners here in Qatar. BMW Motorrad France Thevent produced an assertive run and we would like to congratulate them on their excellent result. They managed to overcome the conditions, as well as the temperatures shifts and changes in visibility when the sun was setting and then in the dark. Once their main rivals had fallen out of contention, they adopted a perfectly-judged pace which sufficed to keep their chasers at a safe distance. The new tires we developed for the Doha 8 Hours proved very versatile and allowed the riders to stay on the same type of tires from start to finish, despite the fact that the temperature dropped from 45°C at the start to 30°C at the chequered flag.”
The next round of the 2012 Endurance World Championship will take teams to Suzuka, Japan, on July 28-29.
Michelin’s record in endurance racing
• 2012: third place with YART at the Bol d’Or
• 14 Endurance world titles between 1983 and 2011
• Le Mans 24 Hours (France): 13 wins
• Oschersleben 8 Hours (Germany): 1 win
• Bol d’Or (France): 13 wins
• Suzuka 8 Hours (Japan): 6 wins
• Doha 8 Hours (Qatar): 3 wins
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