BMW F 800 S At Daytona

As the F 800 crew were waiting for their bike to enter the pit lane for the first stop of the race, something wasn't right. The crew was ready, the pit sign was out, but the bike was missing. One of the MOTO-ST officials came over to Crew Chief Hunter and said that his bike had run out of fuel and had coasted to a stop. Fortunately, it stopped next to an access gate and the crew ran in the direction of the parked bike. Taking along the `quick fill' gas bottle, they refuelled the bike and got it back on the track without losing a position.

Once back in the pit area, the crew realized that the bike's fuel consumption had changed more than expected so Pete adjusted the pit stop interval to account for this change. Each pit stop was an excellently choreographed operation due to the countless hours of practice that Chris put his crews through, ensuring that the SJBMW bikes got out of the pits very quickly.

The fuel bottles were kept full and new tires were mounted on the still hot wheels that had come off during their previous stops. Everyone's fingers were crossed as day turned into night and the track lights came on, as did the lights on the racing bikes. The F 800 climbed through the field from 14th to 12th and then to 10th. The R 1200 S was running at the front, swapping the lead with the SV1000 Suzuki. The Aprilia team that had been fast all year was out of contention with one bike wrecked and the other suffering from a bad pit stop, putting them a lap down.

With only 30 minutes left in the Eight Hour race, the F 800 was up to seventh place and no one could have guessed how it would end. All of a sudden, the track announcer said: "a Ducati coming out of the pits has t-boned the SJBMW Bike, sending the rider tumbling down the track..."

Just then the F 800 came screaming by so we all knew it was the R 1200 S that had been hit. Its rider Richard Cooper went down very hard but got up and ran towards the bike. Amazingly, this diminutive 119 lb. rider picked the bike up, got it started and rode it back to the pits. The damage was extensive. The crash wasn't SJBMW's fault, but the officials were pointing out that all the problems they saw on the bike could disqualify the defending champions. Chris argued that as the R 1200 S was not leaking any fluids and the lights were still working, then there was no reason to Red Flag (disqualify) the BMW. Fortunately, the officials let them continue.

Just as the F 800 screamed past the pits again with Steve Atlas on board, making gestures as to whether or not the R 1200 S was out of the race, Brian Parriott jumped on the R 1200 S (knowing the damage that he had seen for himself) and tore out of the pits before the leader came back around. They went from a position of being just two seconds behind the Suzuki before the accident, to one-and-a-half minutes behind when they left the pits - but they didn't get lapped!

Brian rode like his hair was on fire and he was soon doing 150 mph on the Daytona banking and catching the Suzuki a little bit each lap. In fact, he got to within 25 seconds of the Suzuki when the chequered flag dropped and the race ended.

The R 1200 S team had finished in second place - an unbelievable result considering everything that had happened. Then all eyes looked toward turn 4 as the F 800 came across the line in 7th place - a great finish for an unproven race bike that had been wrecked the day before! To say the least, there was a party atmosphere in the San Jose BMW pits!

When all was said and done, the F 800 only used two rear tires and the original front for the whole Eight Hour race. As it turned out, the fuel consumption problem was not the bike's fault - it was the `quick-fill' bottle that had a defective vent cap! When crewmember Ben Mellen pointed out that the bottle wasn't `chugging' as hard as the other bike's bottle during refuelling, fuel man Tim Johnson used his pocket-knife to widen the vent hole in the cap. During the next stop the F 800 took almost an extra gallon of fuel! With racing, anything can happen - just ask the guys from San Jose BMW - but one thing is for sure, BMW builds great motorcycles!

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