End of season finale results in a spectacular victory for BMW Motorrad
After a long season of development with its 450cc sports enduro prototype, the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team finally tasted victory right at the end of the Cross Country season. Factory rider Simo Kirssi saved his best until last and posted a fine victory on the 450cc sports enduro at the weekend’s European Cross Country final in Schefflenz, Germany.
2007 has been a season full of ups and downs for the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team. The main focus has been the ongoing development of a competitive 450cc sports enduro, and this has been tested in full view of the public and media at some of the toughest off-road races imaginable, including selected rounds of this year’s Maxxis FIM World Enduro Championship (WEC).
At the last WEC race in France three weeks ago, it was clear from the results that the comprehensive development and testing programme was already paying dividends, and one week later, it was only bad luck that prevented a podium finish at the XCC race in Schweinfurt. Following a successful suspension test for the team last week, everything worked perfectly in Schefflenz on Sunday for BMW Motorrad Motorsport.
In perfect weather conditions at the former world championship motocross track, Simo Kirssi made a good start to the race and was up to fourth place before the end of the first lap. By lap four, the talented Finn took the lead and from this point on, he controlled the race perfectly. In fact, the only threat to his lead happened in the final stages, when second-placed Antoine Letellier caught up with him. However, Simo had the situation under control and could have increased the pace if necessary, but two laps before the end, Letellier was forced to pull out with damage to his back tyre.
“Today everything worked well for me and I had a lot of fun on the track,” said Kirssi. “The developments in the suspension helped too. At the beginning of the race I pushed hard and managed to create a useful gap at the front. After that I backed off the throttle and was determined to get the bike to the finish. In the end it was a comfortable victory and a great result for the team.”
Race winner Kirssi wasn’t the only BMW rider out at Schefflenz, as five-times motocross world champion Joel Smets was riding the second 450cc sports enduro prototype as part of his development role in BMW Motorrad’s first WEC season. It was Joel’s first ever first Cross Country race though and he enjoyed it very much, despite having to start from the back of the field due to the regulations. The legendary Belgian still managed to fight his way up to third position and was in contention for a possible second podium for the team, but – unluckily for him – his engine stopped running just 10 minutes before the end of the race. The reason for this is still to be analysed, but is likely to be a result of damage to the engine’s kill switch.
“It’s a pity that I didn’t make it to the podium alongside Simo,” said the 38-year-old Belgian. “We’re not sure of the reason why the motor stopped, but I still enjoyed the race a lot. It was my first taste of Cross Country competition and hopefully not the last! It was a fantastic race, a fantastic atmosphere, and a fantastic sport.”
After the chequered flag for Simo Kirssi, an emotional BMW Motorrad team hugged each other and the competitors applauded a great first season’s effort, according to Team Manager Wolfgang Fischer: “That was the perfect end of a turbulent and exciting season. It was thrilling for all involved and despite a lot of work throughout the year, to get this victory was a beautiful reward. We’ve been doing so much work behind the scenes but thousands of training and testing hours are of little value – people only remember the results. This weekend, everything worked perfectly, which is a wonderful reward for the team, who have all worked so hard and thoroughly deserve this victory.”
The final word went to head of BMW Motorrad Motorsport, Berti Hauser: “I am so happy about this result – not just for Simo, but for the whole team and specifically for project leader Markus Theobald. Now we can finally demonstrate that our sports enduro concept not only works but is capable of winning races. That was our target for the season and it’s great to have finally achieved it.”
Results – XCC Europe final Schefflenz
1. Simo Kirssi, BMW Motorrad Motorsport
2. Bert Meyer, Honda
3. Jörg Haustein, KTM
4. Jean-Francois Goblet, KTM
5. Jan Zulauf, KTM
6. Stefan Geyer, Suzuki
7. Antoine Letellier, Aprilia
8. Joel Smets, BMW Motorrad Motorsport
9. Arne Weidemann, Husaberg
10. Alex Pacioretti, Honda