The 2009 World Endurance Championship continued with round 5 at the French Magny Cours circuit, near the town of Nevers in the Loire Valley. The Bol D’Or endurance race is one of the oldest races in the world, the first event being held in 1922.
The Slovak team, BK Maco Racing arrived in France with a new team member, American Josh Hayes who had recently completed a double win weekend in the AMA championship to secure 2nd place overall in the 2009 AMA Superbike championship. Josh was standing in for the injured Victor Carrasco whose wrist, damaged at Suzuka, was not sufficiently recovered for a 24 hour race. Josh therefore teamed up with fellow American and friend Jason Pridmore, and Spaniard Dani Ribalta.
The team were in good spirits from the start. The mechanics worked on basic bike set up, and Josh Hayes’ input, having raced an R1 in the AMA championship this season was very helpful. The team qualified in 7th place on aggregate times. A great performance came from Pridmore, who qualified 4th in his group. Jason rode in Superpole, improving his best time again, to put the team 7th on the grid.
Dani Ribalta started the race but bad luck struck on just the second lap. The LMS 72 bike failed to stop in time for the hairpin and struck the National Motos 55 bike very hard, which in turn crashed into Dani bringing him and two other bikes down. Despite injuries to his wrist and foot Dani pushed the BK Racing Yamaha back to the pit box for repair. The engine oil sump had been holed in the crash and so had to be replaced in a difficult and lengthy repair. In total the team lost 55 minutes, rejoining the race in 52nd ( last ) place.
Pridmore began the chase for championship points. He and Josh Hayes double stinted for the next 4 hours to give Dani time to seek medical attention and recover from his crash. Thankfully his wrist was not broken and just before darkness fell Dani rejoined the race. By 03:20 am the team were up to 30th place lapping faster than everyone outside the top 4 places, but at 05:00 am on lap 429, whilst in 28th place the bike stopped with an electrical problem, a consequence of the crash on lap 2. The bike had stopped at a point a long way from the pit box, a 45 minute push at least. The BK Maco Racing Team were therefore forced to abandon the race.
Martin Kuzma, Team Owner:
„It is hard to look for words. The weekend started nicely, riders gave 100%, the team worked well. The American Josh Hayes proved himself as a very good back up for Victor. It finished actually on the second lap of the race when one rider, too over motivated caused four riders to fall and from that time our troubles appeared. I have never in my life seen an engine oil tank broken in a crash. In the first hour we lost 55 minutes.
However, in ever case we have proven in practice in qualifying and in the race that we are a competitive team capable of participating among the top teams of the World Championship. It didn’t happen in this race, but that was not caused by our mistake.
I want to say thank you to the whole team, riders, mechanics and to all who support us.“
Next race is on November 14th, the 8 hour race in Qatar, where the team achieved 3rd place last year.