Le Mans, France,
16:04 PM

24h Motos: Dunlop teams set the pace at dramatic Le Mans season opener

  • BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team charges to the podium
  • New lap record as BMW praise Dunlop consistency and pace
  • Tecmas MRP BMW win the Dunlop Superstock Trophy from 3ART Yamaha

The 24h Motos at Le Mans launched the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) with a race packed with drama, close racing and the challenge of near-freezing conditions. 

In the top Formula EWC class, Dunlop partner BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team starred in taking third place, but were denied a chance of victory after a crash delay. BMW riders Markus Reiterberger, Ilya Mykhalchyk and Jeremy Guarnoni were second fastest in testing, but were caught out by changeable weather in qualifying resulting in them lining up eighth.  However, from the green flag the team were pacesetters. Guarnoni rapidly rose into the top five from the start. After the first round of pit stops, they upped the pace with a series of fastest laps from Mykhalchyk taking the M1000RR into the lead by the start of the third hour. A thrilling battle between BMW, Honda and Yamaha was the highlight of the opening four hours, with rarely more than the length of the pit straight between them. Then, as night fell, a crash meant an eight-minute pitstop for repairs, dropping the team to sixth. 

The team’s relentless comeback from near-disaster to the podium showed its potential race-winning pace. Mykhalchyk’s 1.35.751 was nearly half a second faster than the record set last year. Significantly, each of the BMW team’s new lap records came at the end of each stint, underlining the enduring pace and durability of the Dunlop KR range of tyres over long race distances. The temperature fell to just 4c during the night, but the quick warm-up characteristics of Dunlop’s commercially available KR109 front and KR108 rear slicks shone brightly in the fog. The BMW team chose to use the same compound throughout the race, praising the durability and consistency. 

Werner Daemen, Team Manager BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team:  “From the start to the finish of each stint, the Dunlop tyre performance was consistent.  For the riders this was very important. For us it's much easier because we can make a setup change on the electronics or the suspension because the tyre performance always stays at the same level.

“It’s incredible that we can use the same Dunlop specifications from lap number one to number eight hundred. We didn’t have to change anything, even in the cold of the night. After two laps in the cold we can go full speed.”

Just behind the BMW, the impressive new KM99 team, choosing Dunlop for its debut season with a Yamaha R1, also showed immense pace. Its riders Florian Marino, Lucas Mahias and Bastien Mackels challenged the top four before delays for repairs. The team showed a level of performance that marks it as a podium contender through the four-round world championship.

Dunlop Superstock Trophy - BMW wins from Yamaha in a race-long duel.

The 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans marked the start of the second year of the Dunlop Superstock Trophy class in the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC). All Superstock teams also raced with the Dunlop KR109 front and KR108 rear tyres. The near-standard Superstock bikes don’t have the quick-change mechanism of the Formula EWC bikes, so Dunlop’s consistency and durability is important. Minimising the number of tyre changes is key to rapid pit stops. The Dunlop Superstock Trophy was the biggest class at Le Mans, contributing 34 of the 54 entries. 

In an eventful race, the Superstock team was Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team, leading 3ART Best of Bike Yamaha to the podium. The Chromeburner-RAC-41 Honda team was part of this close lead battle, until a crash delayed them. Tecmas’ win for Loïc Arbel, Kenny Foray, Jan Bühn, and Maxime Bonnot brought some consolation to BMW after their overall win ambitions had been dashed.

David Auerbacher, Event Leader EWC, Dunlop: “Congratulations to Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team on a winning start in the Dunlop Superstock Trophy. We had the speed, potential and consistency for an overall BMW-Dunlop win as well, and we are optimistic for the remainder of the season. A special mention for KM99. For a brand new team to battle at the front bodes well for a strong result at the team’s home race at Spa. We head into the rest of the championship with confidence after a Le Mans race that proved the tyres’ record-setting pace and consistency

The next round of the FIM Endurance World Championship is the Spa 24 hours on 16-18 June.

About Dunlop

Dunlop Europe is one of the world's leading manufacturers of motorcycle tires with an impressive track record of motorsport successes. Dunlop Europe is a technical partner of leading Endurance World Championship teams, the official tire supplier to the FIM Moto2 and Moto3 World Championships and the most successful tire brand in the history of the Isle of Man TT. Off-road, Dunlop is the choice of MXGP race winners and champions.