PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREA WILSON
Californian Jason Pridmore is on his way to Japan as an 11th hour replacement for the injured Sylvain Barrier on the BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent for this weekend’s Suzuka 8 Hours.
Pridmore will join his good friend Damian Cudlin on the team with Erwan Nigon completing the three-man team on the BMW S1000RR.
"After spending all weekend at the Laguna Seca Grand Prix, I woke up on Monday morning to discover I was off to race for BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent in the Suzuka 8 Hours this weekend, which was a bit of a welcome surprise,” Pridmore said in a team release. “I love the Suzuka Circuit and I can't wait to ride BMW S1000RR there. I am under no illusions as to how tough it's going to be for me, but I will do the best I can for the team and I know Damian and Erwan will be on hand to help me get up to speed as quickly as possible. I'd like to say thank you to BMW Motorrad France for this opportunity and I wish Sylvain Barrier a speedy recovery from his injuries."
The team is hoping to get it’s 2013 World Endurance Championship season back on track, the team having had a difficult run of late. A big crash six hours into the Bol d'Or, the opening round of the 2013 season, saw the team leave France with zero points.
Barrier, meanwhile, was forced to withdraw from the race just days before travelling to Japan, as a result of injuries sustained during a two-day test at Suzuka earlier this month.
The team remains confident, however, as Cudlin and Nigon were consistently fast during the Suzuka test, which saw the team running in wet, dry and mixed conditions over the course of the two days. Both riders are confident that a top-five finish is a realistic goal this weekend.
For Pridmore, Suzuka will be something of a baptism of fire. The American has previous experience on the bike, having won the FIM World Endurance Superstock Cup aboard a BMW S1000RR in 2012, but he’s never raced on Michelin tires.
"The team head to this year's Suzuka 8 Hours determined to claim the podium finish that would have been ours last season but for an electrical problem in the final hour of the race and I'm confident that this is a realistic goal,” said team owner Michael Bartholemy. “The Japanese teams, with their full-factory bikes and World Championship rider line-ups, will be as fast as ever, but anything can happen in an eight-hour race, where our experience counts for a lot. Both Damian and Erwan were quick in all conditions during the recent test at Suzuka, so we know we have the pace to run at the front. It is unfortunate that Sylvain is unable to race due to injuries, especially as we only discovered this a few days before the team was due to fly to Japan. At such short notice, and with no time to test the BMW S1000RR or the Michelin tires, we knew that taking an experienced rider was the only option open to us. Which is why I'm glad to welcome Jason to the team. He's one of the most experienced riders in the EWC paddock and I know he'll do a good job for us this weekend."