BMW brings first Enduro World Championship season to a close

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Sep. 24, 2007
BMW has been campaigning its 450cc enduro prototype in the World Enduro Championships with famed rider Joel Smets. The entry wasn't so much to compete for wins but to develop its trick new bike and its innovative technology. Read on.


BMW Motorrad Motorsport team rider Joel Smets successfully delivered BMWs pre-production 450cc sports enduro bike to the finish in both days of the eighth and final round of the 2007 World Enduro Championship, staged in Noirétable, France, bringing to an end what has been an exciting first season of WEC competition for both Joel and the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team.

Joel Smets in action at the eighth and final round of the 2007 World Enduro Championship in Noirétable, France; Joel and the 450cc sports enduro.

Entering a prototype version of the Enduro 2 class machine into the second round of the WEC series in Spain back in April, before making further improvements and testing many new parts at the corresponding Italian round one month later, the machine used by Smets in Noirétable featured several parts that will almost certainly be used in the production of the finished 450cc sports enduro bike. In completing both days Joel showed that the bike performed faultlessly.

Despite the GP of France marking the end of the 2007 WEC season the event was in many ways the toughest with all riders facing 124 miles of demanding rock and dust-littered tracks on each day, as well as dealing with many challenging special tests. Far from being properly prepared for the event (due largely to having been unable to ride the 450cc sports enduro since the WEC GP of Italy in late May because of the ongoing developments being made to the bike) Joel was forced to dig deep and finished 16th in the Enduro 2 class on day one before improving to 15th on day two. Despite 30 per cent of the E2 class riders failing to finish day one, BMWs 450cc sports enduro performed perfectly.

Commenting on a difficult, but rewarding race weekend, Joel Smets said: "The GP of France was a really, really tough race a perfect place to test the latest version of the 450cc BMW in fact. Because the bike has been developed considerably since the last time we raced it in Italy I hadnt been able to ride it that much, which meant that my bike fitness wasnt what it needed to be. I was so tired on the transport stages that I wasnt able to attack the special tests like the top riders.

However, Im not competing to try and win; like all the WEC races this season I was competing to continue the development of the bike. There have been many positive improvements made to the bike and as tough as the race was and as tired and unsympathetic as I was to the BMW it finished both days with flying colors. One hundred twenty-four miles a day on these rough tracks was extremely difficult and I honestly thought that I might not be able to finish after the first lap on day one. The team were extremely pleased with the way that the bike performed, the new parts worked well some of which will become production parts so all in all it was a very positive weekend.

"The GP of France was a really, really tough race a perfect place to test the latest version of the 450cc BMW"

This was a view shared by Project Manager for the 450cc Sports Enduro, Markus Theobald: "The goal at the world championship races in Spain and Italy was to test the concept of the bike as a prototype, to see which parts worked well and which areas we needed to improve. Here in France many of the parts fitted to Joels bike were parts that could well become production parts, so to see the bike finish both days was extremely encouraging, especially considering the punishment Joel has given it.

"Mechanically it performed perfectly, and we now have a bike that could go on and become a production machine. All season it has been our goal to enter a prototype that could develop into a production bike, and to have it finish both days of a world championship race. We have done that now, which is great."

With the bike used by Joel in France now no longer just a prototype the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team plans to enter a selected number of indoor enduro events to further continue its development as well as competing in the final round of the 2007 US Grand National Cross Country Series in late October.

2007 World Enduro Championship France Results
Day 1
1. Johnny Aubert (Yamaha) 49:48.35
2. Fabien Planet (KTM) 50:06.50
3. Samuli Aro (KTM) 50:12.46
16. Joel Smets (BMW) 1:07:03.91


2007 World Enduro Championship France Results
Day 2
1. Johnny Aubert (Yamaha) 50:43.14
2. Mika Ahola (Honda) 51:03.15
3. Fabien Planet (KTM) 52:24.05
16. Joel Smets (BMW) 56:17.38