Foray, Puffe, Mikhalchik: Strong rider trio for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team.
With the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, BMW Motorrad Motorsport is expanding its international works involvement with the new BMW S 1000 RR to include the FIM Endurance World Championship (FIM EWC). And the rider trio that will compete for the squad around Team Manager Werner Daemen (BEL) in the 2019/20 FIM EWC season has been decided: Kenny Foray (FRA), Julian Puffe (GER) and Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR).
35-year-old Foray has been part of the BMW Motorrad Motorsport family for many years and is a real endurance expert. He has been contesting endurance races since 2008, and he won the FIM Endurance World Championship title in 2014. Since 2016, Foray has contested the FIM EWC with BMW teams – and also enjoys success with the BMW S 1000 RR in the French Superbike Championship (FSBK), in which he was crowned champion in 2017. Foray finished in second place in the FSBK championship standings in both 2016 and 2018. Foray is closely involved in the development of the endurance version of the new RR and has completed the test rides so far along with the team.
Puffe and Mikhalchik have been team-mates in Werner Daemen’s team in the International German Motorcycle Championship (IDM) since last season, so they know each other, the team and the new RR very well.
23-year-old Puffe has contested sprint races and the FIM EWC with the BMW S 1000 RR since 2017. After a season in the FIM Superstock 1000 European Championship, he moved to the IDM in 2018, where he ended the season in third place in the overall standings. In the current season, he and team-mate Mikhalchik are embroiled in a gripping duel for the IDM title. In the FIM EWC, he enjoyed successes with BMW teams, such as the Superstock wins in the 8-hour race at the Slovakiaring (SVK) in 2017 and at the legendary Bol d’Or in 2018.
Mikhalchik is also 23 years of age, and claimed the championship title in the IDM at the first time of asking in his maiden season for BMW in 2018. In the current season he leads the IDM standings with two rounds to go, ahead of his team-mate Puffe. Mikhalchik made his debut in the FIM EWC in April of this year, at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA).
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “I am confident that with riders Kenny Foray, Julian Puffe and Ilya Mikhalchik, we are very well-positioned for the maiden season of our new project in the FIM EWC. This trio provides the perfect combination of a wealth of experience and speed. All three of them are very familiar with the new BMW S 1000 RR and know the specific challenges that endurance racing presents for riders, teams and bikes. Which means that they can provide valuable input for the development of the endurance version of the new RR, which we will continue to drive throughout the season. We want to become more competitive step by step in our first year in this top-class world championship. After this first year of learning, our long-term goal is to close in on the top and battle for the title.”
Werner Daemen, Team Manager BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team:“This is a totally new challenge for me. I have been involved in the FIM EWC for many years now. I contested my first 24-hour race as a rider back in 1997 and competed in endurance races until 2011. So I was actively involved in the championship as a rider for 14 years and also finished on the podium during this time. I am delighted to now have this opportunity with the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, even though it involves a lot of work and is nothing like the IDM. In the first year we need to start by gaining experience, even though our aim is always to finish races as far up the field as possible. I’m delighted that we have a strong trio of riders in Kenny Foray, Julian Puffe and Ilya Mikhalchik, and that they have been given the deserved opportunity to grow with this project. I am very optimistic going into the season.”
Kenny Foray: “I am delighted with this new challenge in this new team. I have been part of the BMW family for several years now. My goal has always been to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. And I would love to go home with the title as well. It goes without saying that we first need to get used to the new bike and continue to develop it, but it is an incredibly great motorcycle. Endurance is not easy, but I think that we will be able to be competitive early on. I have high expectations for this new season.”
Julian Puffe: “I feel very honoured to have been given the opportunity to compete for a works team in the FIM EWC. I think it is every racer’s dream to ride in a works team at some point. Particularly in a series as top class as the endurance world championship. I am really excited for this new challenge. I have competed in endurance races since 2017. We won my first race in 2017, which was at the Slovakiaring. And we won the Superstock class at the Bol d’Or in Le Castellet last year as well. We followed this with third place at the Slovakiaring. So, my endurance races have always gone really well so far. Of course, this will be a new challenge, but my goal will always be to be as close to the front as possible. We have a really great team, which we can rely on. I have also modified my daily training in line with preparations, so that I am as fit as possible. I cannot wait for the season to get started.”
Ilya Mikhalchik: “Firstly, I would like to thank BMW Motorrad Motorsport for this huge opportunity to compete in a world championship as a works rider. It means a great deal to me. I am the first Ukrainian to take their first steps on this huge world stage. I will give it my all from the very first race. The calendar includes three tracks that are new to me, and I am also really excited for the races outside of Europe. I am looking forward to being able to show my potential at such a high level. I am confident that we will do great things with the new RR and am looking forward to the first race.”