Tecmas: the same nightmare that at Spa…
The whole Tecmas-MRP BMW team arrived full of hope and ambition for this 86° race of the Bol d’Or at the Paul Ricard track. From the boss, Arnaud Sassone, passing by the pilots, about twenty people present for this last round of the of the Superstock World FIM Cup.
All of them could see the team on the highest step of the podium, like at the Mans 24 Hours, brandishing this World Cup. Legitims hopes as the superiority of the BMW M1000 RR n°9 seemed so evident.
In fact, since the beginning of the Var week, during each time of the free trials, both day and night and in qualifications, the n°9 had been pointed leader of the Superstock and, besides, Kenny Foray improved the track record in the category (1’53”5 V.S. 1’54”6). Of course, there has been this hot alert with the fall of Jan Bühn on the Tuesday, fall caused by a mechanical problem, forcing the German pilot to renounce running (fracture of the left hand), but nothing to break the Bourges team trust. Especially that, at the last moment, the team who could have include Nelson Major, had found a luxury replacement with Loris Baz. Loris Baz, the BMW official pilot, who was qualified as the replacement pilot on the official BMW n°37 in EWC, is a reference. Loris Baz, his three seasons in MotorGP from 2015 up to 2017, it’s about ten years in the World Superbike, it’s still a scratch victory at the 2013 Bol d’Or with Greg Leblanc and Jérémy Guarnoni in the SRC team. That is to say that all the blinkers were green at Tecmas’, especially because the High Savoy guy subscribed straight away to the project proposed by Tecmas and the MRO team: “To do the Bol, even in Stock, it’s better than an EWC spectator. I am going to discover the moto and this is different from having been able to prepare the whole thing. I know there is a big deal for BMW and Tecmas. This is why they did call me. I hope to enjoy myself on the track and help Kenny and Loïc to get the Superstock title”. Unfortunately, the pilot from Sallanches will not have even the time to climb on the moto…
17 laps and that is all!
Discovering the new Dunlop rain tires, Kenny Forey started prudently. It was the instructions at least for the two or three first relays. After seven laps, the ex-world Endurance champion (in 2014 with David Checa and Mathieu Gines) was, however, ahead of its category.
The following lap, he stopped at the stand to change the tires, the track being dryer after the big storm at the beginning of the afternoon. The n°9 ran like a clock when the speaker announced that he was stopped just before the Sainte-Baume turn.
It was 15h36. Eighteen minutes later Kenny, worn out, had brought back the moto, pushing it, at the stand. A very quick diagnostic: “broken engine” like at Spa. In the Tecmas stand where the shutter was pulled down after 16 hours, the despondency succeeded to the most foolish hopes. “Like in Belgium, there was no alert. No overheating, no overdrive. Kenny did 12.500 laps at the maximum whereas the moto can take 15.000. It will be necessary to open to see what broke and have a round table with the BMW people to try to understand and modify what needs to be modified for the next season. Now, place at the Superbike. We have a title to keep” tried to play down Arnaud Sassone, yet very disappointed and conscious to have experimented the same nightmare that at Spa; a nightmare which will be difficult, almost impossible to wear away… Even the comfort words from the German bosses will not be that helpful.
“The same break down twice in a row, it’s not acceptable!” (K Foray)
Somewhere in the stand, Loris Baz and Loïc Arbel seemed to be disconcerted, taken aback! Kenny Foray, surrounded by the mechanics and his engineers was also disappointed. So much, that he could hardly find his words. “An alert? No, nothing! The same thing that in Spa? Perhaps. It would be necessary to dismantle the moto to understand what happened. But it’s a bit the same crazy thing. Of course, we are all disappointed, it’s becoming very complicated and more and more difficult for the team, who worked like mad for this 24-hour race, to accept the failure. Apart from the deception, it is also the shame to have not even been unable to achieve fifteen laps after having worked so hard…” Kenny Foray is not the kind of person to give up, but there, the moral had visibly taken a hit. “The solution? I don’t know what to do. I am not a motorist but, for sure, a solution must be found, acceptable for us (Tecmas) and for BMW. We all know that the race is an accomplishment of three pilots, of a team and of a moto. We started carefully with some particular conditions. The time to understand well the new Dunlop tires, there was no question of taking some risks immediately as we knew very well that in term of performance, we were superiors. It was the good strategy but the mechanic decided otherwise. I am disgusted… Especially for the team”
All this to be demoralized before the last FSBK round on this very same Paul Ricard track in two weeks where Kenny Foray, who remains with seven victories within eight FSBK races, will have his French Champion title to defend? “No! first of all, this is not the same thing. For the Bol, we had great ambitions and the means to accomplish them. And this is what is disappointing, to undertake so many things for nothing! I feel so sorry for all the people of the team, including the pilots, who have given so much. They did not deserve this result. One can have problems, but not the same ones twice in a row. This is not correct!”