BMW Confident Going Into Daytona 200
The 200 is unique among races on the AMA roadrace schedule for its endurance-like format with pit stops, refuelling and the like. But this should play into BMW Motorrad's favor having had a very successful debut year competing in the World Endurance Championship.
The team had a year to perfect its pit-stop routine while competing in last year’s World Endurance Championship, as well as selected non-championship rounds. By last year’s race in Doha in November, the technicians had got the routine – that involves refuelling and changing tires – down to about 16 seconds, which is a great starting point for Daytona.
“Fast pit stops are crucial and there are many different strategies,” according to Nate Kern who will pilot one of the four Sports entered. “The rider has to be off the machine during pit stops and the bike shut off. Thomas Hinterreiter and myself will have one pit box with technicians maintaining our pit stops and Rico and Brian will be in another separate pit stop box.”
The team was in Daytona in December, 2007 for tire testing, and were admittedly off the pace of the best Japanese bike teams by nearly five seconds. Kern is keenly aware that trouble-free pit stops are just a part of the equation.
“Due to the nature of Daytona it will be tough on top speed, but we will shine on the brakes and with the HP2 Sport’s high torque out of the corners,” he said. “When Thomas and I spent a couple of days testing there, we mainly focused on machine set-up and getting more tire life. The HP2 Sport’s awesome torque just shreds tires, coupled with the extreme amount of force on the left side of the tire on Daytona’s banking. I am looking forward to the race – mentally, it’s a bigger challenge than physically.”
Berti Hauser, Head of Motorsport is equally aware of the challenges presented by Daytona. "What will be crucial...is for us to get the engine mapping set up correctly because this is a tricky circuit to get right, because of the banking, the infield section and the altitude.”
“For sure, we cannot forecast what will happen at Daytona, but we do realize that a lot will depend on the cleverness of the riders, as there are many long straights and they will have to benefit from the slipstreaming effect to be competitive," he said.
Despite the bike's apparent lack of top speed, Hauser is still confident of its chances."We haven’t made many changes to the race bike from 2007, as we are close to the limit already and will be looking for reliability and durability, rather than enhanced performance. We were positively surprised at how well last year went – the team spirit was great and the riders fought all the way. In that sense, we already have a high target to beat in 2008. That said, our immediate target is to finish all the races and then improve the results even further.”
American riders Brian Parriott and Nate Kern will be joined by German riders Thomas Hinterreiter and Rico Penzkofer on the HP2 Sport. All riders will be competing in the Formula Extreme class on BMW’s sports boxer.
Provisional road race calendar 2008
Daytona 200 - Saturday 8 March
Endurance World Championship, Le Mans - Saturday 19 April
Endurance World Championship, Magny Cours (Bol D'Or) - Saturday 20 September
Endurance World Championship, Doha - Saturday 8 November