The 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship has started, and so has the heartbreak for fans of BMW. The Motorrad team was forced to retire at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last Saturday, after a very precise pebble lodged into their bike’s radiator and destroyed its engine. The team’s BMW M1000RR — which is arguably Motorrad’s most advanced and capable bike ever — was doing well until the nearly 1-inch rock pierced the radiator and dumped the coolant.
The M1000RR might be the M Division and Motorrad’s crowning achievement, but even with the bike’s new gravel detection system, it’s powerless against a bit of bad luck. The BMW WEC riders and bike #37 had completed 151 laps in just under four and a half hours before bowing out as their engine overheated.
The team expected to make a push for the podium late in the evening, as the 24-hour race rewards good pacing and sipping fuel, but it didn’t make that long into the race. For reference, the winning team from Yoshimura SERT Motul ran 840 laps in 24 hours and two seconds aboard a Suzuki GSXR-1000.
BMW WEC manager Werner Daemen said the sizable rock shot through the radiator despite the M1000RR having protection in place. Emphasis mine:
The race was good – until we had a big stone in our radiator. The water was straight out, the oil temperature went up and the engine broke. It was very disappointing for everybody that the race ended that way. For the riders, for the team, the mechanics, they all had worked so hard this winter to prepare the bike. We were very well prepared but this was something that nobody could foresee. We have a big protector in front of our radiator but this stone was at least two centimetres big and when it hits the radiator at 260 km/h [162 miles per hour] then nothing helps. This happens, we are very disappointed but we will come back!
In their own statements, BMW riders Markus Reitberger, Jérémy Guarnoni and Ilya Mikhalchik shared that the mighty M1000RR just saw a bit of bad juju, and the team looks forward to the upcoming World Endurance Championship races. Up next is the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in June where, hopefully, the BMW M1000RR will not have sniper rocks aiming for its radiator.