BMW factory rider Simo Kirssi has successfully defended his title. The Finn celebrated a convincing and emotional win at the European Cross Country (XCC) final at Marisfeld, to add yet another championship to his tally.
The Cross Country series stepped into new territory in order to determine the 2009 European champion. Riders from seven countries gathered at the perfectly prepared location in Thuringia and were met with difficult conditions due to ongoing rain. The whole six-kilometer track turned into a quagmire. Especially the uphills became super-tricky.
Simo Kirssi didn´t mind the circumstances. The 30-year-old had just flown in from Portugal where he was busy preparing for the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE), yet didn´t let the lack of on-site presence get in his way. Kirssi powered his BMW 450 X to the front early, only to let Frenchman Nicolas Deparrois by briefly to learn the track. The defending champ had arrived that late at Marisfeld, he couldn´t even check out the circuit before the start. Kirssi got on the gas as soon as he felt comfortable and was never headed again. He won the 90-minute race (shortened because of the conditions) from a distant Antoine Letellier and Deparrois.
The whole BMW Motorrad Motorsport was over the moon as their rider took the chequered flag. The victory marked BMW´s first international Cross Country title in 2009. A huge banner welcomed the "European Cross Country Champion Simo Kirssi". BMW´s sport chief Berti Hauser was among the first to congratulate his rider.
Having to deal with plenty of pressure after being unlucky in the domestic series, Kirssi was visibly delighted to win both the race and title. "I´m pumped to win the European title again," he said. "Especially as we were so terribly unlucky at the German Cross Country final two weeks ago. It was a difficult race, it was slippery and I had no time to get accustomed. I hurried from the airport to come here and had to put on my race gear literally the moment I stepped out of the car. But the race developed perfectly. I took my time to study the lines and did put the hammer after 15 minutes. I felt great and managed to control the field. I certainly had some reserves left."
The team is now busy in Portugal, where the ISDE are underway since Monday. The BMW factory riders are representing their country and the Finnish team is relying heavily on the BMW trio of Juha Salminen, Simo Kirssi and Marko Tarkkala in their quest to claim the legendary trophy.
Berti Hauser (Director BMW Motorrad Motorsport): "I´m very happy for Simo and would like to congratulate the whole team. This title is important and a reward for all the hard work. It provides a major boost for the Six Days and the challenges ahead in 2010. Marisfeld deserves a special place in our memory, not just because we won, but also because this is a great location."
XCC European Championship
1. Simo Kirssi (FIN), BMW Motorrad Motorsport, 65,25 points
2. Antoine Letellier (FRA), Aprilia, 50,10
3. Nicolas Deparrois (FRA), GasGas, 48,45
4. Matteo Zecchin (ITA), Husaberg, 45,00
5. Christian Weiß (GER), TM, 43,65
6. Massimo Ballati (ITA), Yamaha, 40,50
7. Markus Auer (AUT), KTM, 38,25
8. Edi Ederer (AUT), KTM, 35,70
9. Andreas Schulz (GER), KTM, 34,95
10. Steffen Albrecht (GER), BMW, 23,25