BMW has announced they are ending their participation in the World Endurance Championship, and are pulling their sponsorship from Team Thevent.
Team Thevent raced the S1000RR under #99, managing second overall in the 2011 and 2012 championships for the FIM series. Team management thought the 2014 season’s sponsorship was in the bag, but it turned out that wasn’t the case.
To say this decision by BMW was something of a surprise would be an understatement,” team leader Michael Bartholemy said in a press release. “We were asked by BMW Motorrad at Le Mans if we would continue in 2014, to which our answer was a definite yes. In November I flew to BMW, again presented our proposal and the response was positive.”
“Since then we have been negotiating in good faith, with BMW, with riders and with Pirelli while BMW clarified internally some technical issues with the bike we would race in 2014. Finally the budget was agreed with BMW, but just 24 hours later we got a call from them saying that they were sorry, but there was no budget and they weren’t going racing.”
Bartholemy went on to say the move was disappointing, and he thought Team Thevent had done well against their experienced competitors, especially considering their budget. Now, they’ve got riders and other staff under contract and a deal with Pirelli in place, but no bike.
“Our only hope of racing in 2014 lies with another manufacturer,” he said. But while there’s an outside chance that might happen, Bartholemy didn’t sound hopeful, saying time was running out and Team Thevent might not be back in the mix until 2015.
The move might have surprised Bartholemy, but it shouldn’t come as a shock to most outside viewers, as BMW seems to be taking an axe to its racing budget. The big boys in the German head office have already canceled their WSBK effort, which comes as a bit of a head-scratcher, considering their ongoing push to develop their S1000RR.
Last summer, when the WSBK cancellation was announced, we were left wondering where that left CSBK racers aboard the S1000RR (it’s a very popular mount in the Canadian series, and Brett McCormick and Jordan Szoke have taken the last three championships aboard the bike). Now, this has to be even worse news for those riders. BMW’s big-league decisions might not trickle down to the grassroots level anytime soon, but it’s surely cause for concern.