BMW Motorcycles team: Brian Parriot, Nate Kern, and Stephane Mertens
They say history repeats itself - and at the inaugural SunTrust Moto ST eight-hour endurance race at Daytona International Speedway this October 21st that is exactly what happened. Thanks to a brilliant effort by the BMW Motorcycles team, victory was achieved in dramatic, nail-biting fashion as the team brought home the checkered flag. Not since Steve McLaughlin won the very first AMA Superbike race back in 1976 on an R 90 S, had a BMW team won at Daytona in an AMA-sanctioned race.
And this stunning victory was equally historic, all the more because it was not a national team, but a combined effort of three BMW dealers from different parts of the country. San Jose BMW led the team with their silver #46 R 1200 S, with additional technicians, transport and equipment from Mainline BMW and BMW of Atlanta. Two other BMW dealers, BMW Motorcycles of Daytona and Touring Sport BMW, also fielded entries in the race.
In the Super Sport Twins-class, American riders Brian Parriot, Nate Kern, and Belgian Stephane Mertens grabbed the win aboard their stock #46 BMW R 1200 S, defeating the #18 M4 EMGO Suzuki SV 1000S team by nearly fifteen seconds. The BMW team completed 228 laps of the 3.56-mile Daytona road course, racking up a total distance of 811.68 miles around the speedway's legendary high-banked turns. All three riders posted lap times within a second of each other, and this consistency, combined with the expert pit crew and race team planning under the direction of San Jose BMW owner Chris Hodgson and legendary team manager Udo Gietl, brought home the win.
"Everything went smoothly," Parriott said. "The settings were perfect, tire wear was phenomenal. In the end, pit efficiency won the race, all us riders did was just cruise around the track."
BMW's victory is particularly impressive given the fact that the M4 EMGO Suzuki team had twenty-five years of endurance racing experience. But a pit mishap just over an hour into the race cost them six laps, allowing the San Jose BMW team to grab a commanding lead, and one which they never relinquished.
For 172 laps, Parriott, Kern, and Mertens led the race, averaging 106 mph. As darkness fell and with an hour and a half left in the contest, the Suzuki team had battled back to second place, and launched a furious charge to try and catch the BMW R 1200 S, but their efforts fell short. Trailing by thirty seconds with twenty-two minutes to go, the Suzuki team made a final pit stop for a splash-and-go hit of fuel, but they were unable to reach Parriott, who took the checkered flag under the speedway lights with one hand raised in triumph.
"We knew the Suzuki had to refuel one more time, so we weren't too worried," Mertens said about the closing laps, "The crew was really fantastic. They made no mistakes."
San Jose BMW had also battled back and forth for leading position with the #83 BMW Motorcycles of Daytona team early on, before a miscommunication between pit and rider caused the BMW Daytona team to run out of fuel on the back straightaway, costing them several laps. Still, the BMW Daytona team managed a fourth place finish, giving BMW Motorcycles two spots in the top five.
"To win at Daytona is something I will treasure for years to come," Mertens said, as the three riders stood on the podium at Victory Lane, with Steve McLaughlin standing nearby. "At last, BMW has achieved another win at Daytona," added Nate Kern, as the champagne was uncorked and the celebration began. "It's been a long time coming."
The BMW R 1200 S was raced totally stock, save for its Remus exhaust and its final drive, which was taken from an R 1200 RT, which allowed for slightly taller gearing. Amazingly, the R 1200 S used less than four ounces of oil during this grueling eight-hour competition. Visit the International Motorcycle Shows this winter to see the Moto ST champion San Jose BMW R 1200 S, which will be on prominent display. Essential support was provided by BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta and Mainline BMW of Devon, Pennsylvania and we give thanks to all three dealers for selflessly working with each other to make this success possible. We also thank the volunteers and well-wishers who assisted the pit crew and cheered on the racers, and celebrated with us when the race was over.
Please join us in wishing congratulations to the entire team - you truly did make history!