When Robert Liebfart travels to the race track he becomes robbox. The start number #67 is his trademark. That happens at least six times a year. An interview.The 50-year old amateur driver has been contesting the privately organized motorcycle racing series BMW Boxer Cup for eight years with a BMW R 1200S. A review of a successful season resulting in the third place in the overall ranking. For the second time in a row.
We have left the Slovakia Ring and have just passed Vienna. This means another 250 miles to go until we arrive at Robert Liebfart’s home in Eichenried in the north of Munich. The perfect opportunity for an interview.
Robert, you’ve just completed the final racing weekend of 2017. What impressions do you take away with you?
I’m going home with a very positive feeling. The season was exciting, varied – not to say dramatic.
Compared to the previous season, the level of competitiveness has increased considerably. There are a few drivers at the top and in the front with very tight gaps. You could never predict who would be where on the podium, who would win or who would charge their way up from the back of the field. Experienced drivers and rookies alike would battle it out at the front.
Did your final racing weekend at Slovakia Ring reflect the ups and downs of this sport?
I was successful for sure based on the fact that I scored a good lap time in the qualifying session despite the changing conditions with wet and dry parts on the track. That’s important in order to achieve a decent grid position, which in turn is a requirement for a good result in a sprint race. After the elation comes the disappointment when you take to the track with confidence the next day and end up in the gravel after only a few turns due to adverse conditions. The first fall after three years, on the last day of the current season; but fortunately unscathed.
What will you remember from 2017?
Never before have I competed against that many different drivers in a single season; and on that many different tracks. Another proof of the high level of competitiveness. It was a lot of fun.
What is the typical Boxer driver like?
They don’t exist. We have a unique attribute on the race track because a BMW Boxer is no classic racing motorcycle. We are quite a special group, far from the mainstream.
The manufacturer BMW Motorrad is getting involved again in the Boxer Cup. What is that about?
I am following the developments with great interest. However, at present it’s difficult to form an opinion. So much is still open. Contesting such a cup is relatively expensive and probably not intended for amateur drivers. In our races, anyone with a BMW Boxer motorcycle can participate. We welcome new racers.
What is the difference between a BMW Boxer and typical racing motorcycles?
The BMW Boxer has very unique characteristics, clearly recognizable with the cylinder configuration to 180 degrees. This limits the freedom of lean angle and occasionally gives a clear signal – unintentionally so! In addition, the motorcycle has a relatively high net weight of more than 200kg. This requires a lot of power from the 130 to 140hp! The Boxer with a capacity of 1,200ccm delivers an impressive torque at a lower rpm, providing advantages at the exit of the turn in particular. This overall package is quite unique and requires extensive driving skills.
You are finishing the 2017 season third in the sprint ranking, just like in 2016.
It wasn’t necessarily clear from the outset that I’d finish third. It quickly became obvious that a rookie from the previous year was on a steep learning curve. Furthermore, both last year’s champion and runner-up were really dominant. Therefore you could expect a superior performance in 2017. Together with my team-mate Bruno Matias I claimed the title in the endurance ranking, which makes for a great overall result in 2017.
How can people experience the BMW Boxcer Cup close up?
Of course, anybody who would like to support me through sports sponsoring, e.g. the Buchen Group, is always invited to come to the race tracks. They can be a private person or business people. In turn, they will have the opportunity to offer their clients and customers an exciting day with lots of adrenaline and goosebumps. In our series you have the advantage that the garage is open to anyone and that the action can be witnessed at close range.
It will be six months until you can contest another race. What are your wishes for the new season?
I would be happy if we could inspire some new Boxer drivers to contest the 2018 BMW Boxer Cup. In addition, I want to continue racing in the GA Promotion program. We are one big family and everybody has an exceptionally good relationship with the other drivers, across brands and categories. Perhaps Oschersleben will be included in the 2018 racing calendar. It’s a very attractive race track. One thing is certain, I am already grieving because April 2018 is still so far away.
Thank you for this interview, robbox, and hang in there! This winter break will come to an end eventually.
2017 BMW Boxer Cup – Overall Ranking (top 5):
1 Klaus Hesslinger 207 points
2 Andreas Grimm 151
3 Robert Liebfart 138
4 Bruno Matias 113
5 Bernd Reichhuber 100
2017 BMW Boxercup – Calendar:
April 22/23, 2017 Pannonia Ring (HU) 4th / 4th for robbox
May 19-21, 2017 Brno (CZ) 3rd / 3rd
June 09-11, 2017 Hungaroring (HU) 5th / 3th
August 04/05, 2017 Red Bull Ring – Spielberg (AT) 6th / 6th
August 25-27, 2017 Rijeka (HR) 2nd / 4th
September 15-17, 2017 Slovakia Ring (SK) 2nd / no 2nd race due to heavy rain