2007 WEC GP - BMW Motorrad - Dirt Rider Magazine

Press ReleaseBMW Motorrad Motorsport officially unveiled their new 450cc sports enduro bike at the second round of the '07 World Enduro Championship staged in Puerto Lumbreras, Spain, where the team continued the development of the new bike with official riders Sascha Eckert and former fivetimeworld motocross champion Joel Smets competing in the event. With much anticipation surrounding BMW's first outing in the World Enduro Championship, and with a large number of specialist off-road motorcycling press gathering to see the new bike, the event proved to be extremely successful as both team riders scored world championship points on day one. With the continued development of the bike key to the team's participation in the Puerto Lumbrerasday two saw Sascha Eckert again score points in the Enduro 2 class. Disappointingly Joel Smets retired from the event on day two due to electrical problems.With the bike having appeared on several occasions at enduro events within Germany prior to the second round of the WEC series, the 450 sports enduro bike was seen for the first time in Spain in its official team BMW Motorrad Motorsport colours. Using the competitive racing environment of the World Enduro Championship to give the bike the toughest possible test BMW's goal of developing the bike while taking part in high level competition saw the team's engineers gathera vast amount of information and data, all of which will be used to further develop the bike ahead of its next World Enduro Championship outing in Italy on May 26-27.With Sascha returning to WEC competition for the first time in several years having stopped his participation in serious enduro competitions following his appointment as a member of the testing and development team responsible for the new 450cc project, and with Joel Smets competing in his very first WEC event, neither rider was 100 per cent sure of what to expect before the start of the second round of the WEC series. As it turned out both riders thoroughly enjoyed the event despite the tough conditions brought about largely because of an extreme downpour on Friday evening.Day one proved to be an extremely challenging one for both Joel and Sascha as the slippery conditions required absolute focus. With both riders well aware of the fact that their participation would be a baptism of fire for the new bike, as well as for themselves, and that racing success was far from the minds of any the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team staff the two 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 with the performance of their bikes and the fact that the first stage of the bike's international sporting development ended successfully. With the opening day's competition having produced extremely pleasing results with Joel placing 13th and Sascha15th in the competitive Enduro 2 class both riders started day two looking forward to clocking up yet more development hours. No longer faced with mud and slippery special test conditions day two was to be 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. Disappointingly, having reached the service point at the endof the first lap an electrical problem resulted in Joel taking no further part in the event. Meanwhile Sascha completed the second day in much the same way he did day one placing in 17th position in the Enduro 2 class.Competing in the second round of the '07 World Enduro Championship in order to further develop the new 450cc sports enduro bike the entire BMW Motorrad Motorsport team were encouraged and pleased with the way the two bikes performed in Spain. The team will return to the WorldEnduro Championship at round four in Italy.Sascha Eckert: "I'm so happy with the way the weekend went. This is my first World Enduro Championship race in a long, long time, and of course BMW's first WEC event as well. To finish both days is great. I haven't raced full-time for well over a year due to being busy with the development of the new bike so I couldn't be happier. The BMW MotorradMotorsport team came here to see how the bike would perform in high level competition and to continue the development of the bike. We have learned so much. "I didn't have any problems with my bike, it ran perfectly all weekend. The track was difficult for me, especially on the second day. Four laps on both days was tough. I didn't crash on either day, which I'm pleased with. I couldn't have asked for a better weekend really."Joel Smets: "Obviously I am a little disappointed not to have finished the second day but racing in the WEC was always a continuation of the development programme of the new bike so I knew that we might run into some troubles. I really enjoyed the first day though. It was tough like I expected but finishing in 13th and inside the points was great. Basically, the reason I stopped on day two was because of an electrical problem at the end of the first lap."I found the start of day one really tough because of the water holes on the enduro test and the rocks in some of the transfer sections. Like I said I was expecting things to be tough for me and it was. The rocks were hard on the first lap because I was riding really tense, but after the first lap I relaxed and things were much better. I really started to enjoy myself after the first lap."I never looked too closely at my times in the special tests during the first day because I wasn't here to try and win. I had to learn what the WEC is like as well as riding the new bike in competition for the first time, so I was never aiming to produce spectacular results. 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. "Technical issues are all part of the development process. The most important thing for me is that we stepped forward into the enduro world with the new bike and on the whole things went really well. We will learn from this race and return in Italy, like we planned."2007 World Enduro Championship Rnd 2
Grand Prix of Spain - Day 1
Enduro 2 class
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)
2007 World Enduro Championship Rnd 2
Grand Prix of Spain - Day 2
Enduro 2 class
1. Johnny Aubert
2. Samuli Aro
3. Mika Ahola
4. Stefan Merriman
5. Fabien Planet
17. Sascha Eckert (BMW Motorrad Motorsport)
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