If Team Thevent ends up competing in the 2014 World Endurance Championship, it will do so without BMW. That’s the word from the team as it announced today that BMW has pulled the plug on the effort.
“To say this decision by BMW was something of a surprise would be an understatement,” said team principal Michael Bartholemy. “We were asked by BMW Motorrad at Le Mans if we would continue in 2014, to which our answer was a definite yes. In November I flew to BMW, again presented our proposal and the response was positive.”
The decision brings a close to the team’s three-year foray in the endurance championship with the BMW S1000RR. In both 2011 and 2012 Team Thevent won three races to finish second in the World Championship standings; in 2013 they slipped to 12th in the championship with just one finish – a second-place finish in the German round in August.
“We have been negotiating in good faith, with BMW, with riders and with Pirelli while BMW clarified internally some technical issues with the bike we would race in 2014,” Bartholemy said in a release. “Finally the budget was agreed with BMW, but just 24 hours later we got a call from them saying that they were sorry, but there was no budget and they weren’t going racing. It’s disappointing and it leaves something of a bitter taste, as I think our results show that we’ve done a good job for BMW, against far more experienced rivals and with a budget far lower than the rumors in the paddock would have people believe.
“It also puts us in a very difficult position, as we have riders under contract, a deal with Pirelli and everything else in place to race, including five permanent members of staff and all the specialist equipment that endurance racing demands. Our only hope of racing in 2014 lies with another manufacturer. We have the people, we have the equipment and, as our results over the past three years show, we have what it takes as a team to win races. However, what we don’t have is time. With the decision from BMW coming so close to the start of the season, it leaves us little time to forge a partnership with another manufacturer.”
BMW’s decision may force the team to sit on the sidelines in 2014.
“We still have one option to explore, but we’re fast running out of time. It may be that we have to sit out the 2014 season, before returning to the Endurance World Championship in 2015.”