|BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent were forced to retire from the 24 Heures Moto at Le Mans due to a gearbox failure after 14 hours of racing.|
BMW led first nine hours of race, before problems emerged
The #99 BMW S1000RR, ridden by Sylvain Barrier, Josh Waters and Sébastien Gimbert, led the race for nine hours to the halfway point, before losing time to a minor problem with the exhaust and dropping back to second place. Waters was pushing to make up time on the leading SRC Kawasaki when he encountered problems downshifting. The Australian returned to the pit box, where the team mechanics worked to rectify a mechanical problem with the gearshift mechanism.
Despite their best efforts the problem proved terminal, with Gimbert returning to the pit box for the final time after just one lap, leaving the team with no option but to retire the #99 BMW from the race. The bikes will be returned to BMW in Munich, where they will be stripped and analysed to ascertain the exact cause of the gearshift problem.
It was a bitter blow for BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent, who were on track to end their 2013 Endurance World Championship campaign on a high, before the mechanical failure put them out of the season finale with 10 hours of the race left to run.
Sylvain Barrier said "It's a shame, a real shame it had to end this way, because the team and my teammates on the bike worked really hard since the beginning of the weekend. We rode a good race and kept things on a level plane, not too high, not too low, so to go out in this way is frustrating.
Volker Scheck: Team Principal added "Obviously we're bitterly disappointed to go out of the race in this way, especially after leading until after the halfway point, but that's endurance racing for you. The mechanical failure that put us out of the race is not something we've encountered before. It's not been possible to identify the cause of the problem here at Le Mans, but this will be the priority when the bikes are returned to the workshop. It's a frustrating end to what has been a difficult season, but we'll regroup over the winter and come back stronger in 2014." ––Paul Duchene
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