American rider Nate Kern of BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta and Englishman Richard Cooper of Morton's BMW race team have garnered five podium finishes during the opening weekend of racing at the Daytona Bike Week 2008. This is a great beginning to a full week of festivities and competition at Daytona Beach, Florida, which will culminate in the highly anticipated debut of the factory BMW Motorrad Motorsport team with the new HP2 Sport at the Daytona 200, AMA Formula Xtreme races on Saturday 8 March.
Nate Kern gives a brief overview of this very successful weekend: "Richard Cooper and I raced in ASRA Pro Thunderbike on our No. 12 and No. 347 BMW R 1200 S racing bikes, in both the national and regional events. We had a tremendous showing. The national ASRA Pro Thunderbike is a hotly contested class that includes very eager teams with big budgets. But I am very excited to say that I won both races and Cooper finished second in the national, and third in the regional."
Kern and Cooper also had a podium finish in a dramatic Daytona 300 MOTO-ST endurance race on Sunday 2 March that Kern calls a "Cinderella story". A Cinderella story, because Kern and Cooper finished third overall, racing on a standard BMW R 1200 S, back-up bike, which is essentially a street motorcycle. Unfortunately, a day earlier, Kern's No. 12 race bike was destroyed in a mishap by BMW Motorrad Motorsport's Thomas Hinterreiter during a practice session. Hinterreiter suffered a broken wrist and unfortunately won't be racing in the Saturday's AMA Formula Xtreme races.
Nate Kern and Richard Cooper made a late charge on the R 1200 S to take a third-place overall finish on the standard bike. "I'm still speechless," said Nate. "From our third rider getting hurt, to our top MOTO-ST bike getting absolutely destroyed, it was an amazing outcome. I'd brought my street bike to do some instruction on, but it's completely standard - it even has ABS and heated grips! We were 12 seconds down with eight laps to go, but Richard Cooper made up those 12 seconds in just eight laps!"
Richard Cooper grabbed third on the BMW in the closing laps when the Aprilia USA/Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Aprilia 1000R ridden by Henry Wiles ran into fuel trouble. "As soon as I had Wiles in my sights, that was it," said Cooper. "I think I could have caught him anyway. The bike was faultless."
Cooper can't wait to see the Daytona 200 action kick off on 8 March and believes a good result is possible for the factory riders on the works HP2 Sport.
"We're up against all the other factory teams' four-cylinder bikes in the Formula Extreme class, and the twin-cylinder BMW will probably be about four seconds a lap slower. However, I believe a top 10 is still possible as the team has such a quick pit-stop routine and of course this kind of race can be won or lost in the pits. There's also the BMW's lower fuel consumption and tire wear to take into consideration, which can result in less stops being required. And if you can save one pit stop over the other teams, then anything is possible..."