BMW’s New 450 in the points on debut
BMW Motorrad Motorsport officially unveiled its new 450cc sports enduro prototype at the second round of the 2007 World Enduro Championship staged in Puerto Lumbreras, Spain last weekend.
The team continued the development of the new bike with works riders Sascha Eckert and five-times world motocross champion Joel Smets competing in the event.
With much anticipation surrounding BMW Motorrad’s first outing in the World Enduro Championship – and with a large contingent of off-road journalists interested to see the new prototype machine in the metal – the event proved to be extremely successful as both riders scored world championship points on day one. Joel Smets retired from the event on day two due to an electrical problem.
The new 450cc sports enduro bike had actually appeared at a Germany enduro event prior to last weekend’s World Enduro Championship round, but this was the first time it had been seen in the official BMW Motorrad Motorsport team colours. And because the only real way to develop a racing motorcycle is to enter it in the most competitive environment possible – the World Enduro Championship – the team’s engineers were able to gather a vast amount of data, all of which will be used to further develop the machine ahead of its next World Enduro Championship outing in Italy on 26-27 May.
Due to an earlier downpour, day one proved to be extremely challenging for both Joel and Sascha as the slippery conditions required absolute focus. With machine development, rather than podium finishes on their minds, both riders did exactly what they hoped to do and finished the day without problems. Having plunged themselves – metaphorically speaking – into the deep end of the competitive international enduro scene both Joel and Sascha were extremely pleased that the first stage of the bike’s international debut ended successfully, with Joel placing 13th and Sascha 15th in the competitive Enduro 2 class.
Both riders started day two looking forward to clocking up yet more development hours. No longer faced with slippery mud, conditions on day two were extremely dry and dusty. Again focusing on simply learning as much as possible about the bike within a competitive environment Joel and Sascha completed the opening lap of the event without problems. At the service point at the end of the first lap, an electrical problem resulted in Joel taking no further part in the event. However, Sascha completed the second day in much the same way he did the first, finishing in 17th position in the Enduro 2 class.
“I’m so happy with the way the weekend went,” said Sascha, who has been involved for some time behind the scenes with the development of the new bike. “This is my first World Enduro Championship race in a long time and of course BMW’s first World Enduro Championship event as well, so to finish both days is great. We came here to see how the bike would perform in high level competition and we have learned so much. The track was difficult for me and the four laps on both days were tough, but the bike performed perfectly, so I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend really.”
Joel Smets was a little disappointed not to have finished the second day but was well aware that participation in the World Enduro Championship was always a continuation of the development programme: “I knew that we might run into some trouble but I really enjoyed the first day. It was as tough as I expected but finishing in the points in 13th was great. I was quite tense initially but after the first lap I relaxed and I really started to enjoy myself. I never looked too closely at my times in the special tests during the first day because I wasn’t there to try and win – my job is to develop the bike and give the engineers detailed feedback. Everyone at BMW is really pleased with the way the weekend went and having scored world championship points first time out made things even better.”
The entire BMW Motorrad Motorsport team was encouraged and pleased with the way the two bikes performed on this international World Enduro Championship debut in Spain. Many things have been learned from the race and the team will return to the World Enduro Championship at round four in Italy next month.
“Having the BMW prototype 450 competing in the WEC is very exciting for us at BMW Motorrad in Australia as the 450 market is a big one,” said Miles Davis, BMW Australia Motorrad Marketing Manager.
“Even though there is no word on the bike becoming a production model, having Joel Smets aboard the BMW is great and is creating a lot of interest in the brand in general.
“The weekend’s results show that the BMW 450 is the real deal, the team are going to learn a lot by racing at this level, it is very exciting,” Miles said.
2007 World Enduro Championship Results
Day 1 E2
1. Johnny Aubert
2. Mika Ahola
3. Stefan Merriman
4. Fabien Planet
5. Samuli Aro
13. Joel Smets (BMW Motorrad Motorsport)
15. Sascha Eckert (BMW Motorrad Motorsport)
Day 2 E2
1. Johnny Aubert
2. Samuli Aro
3. Mika Ahola
4. Stefan Merriman
5. Fabien Planet
17. Sascha Eckert (BMW Motorrad Motorsport)