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More, from a press release issued by FIM EWC Press Office:
Race report: Japanese joy made in France as Yoshimura SERT Motul wins EWC 24 Heures Motos
April 17 2022
*Le Mans-based squad takes victory, combined event attendance of 62,000 recorded
*Japanese team starts defence of FIM Endurance World Championship in style
*Result a big boost for Belgian rider Siméon ahead of EWC’s return to Spa in June
*Dunlop Superstock Trophy privateers pack out top 10 places
*Category win goes to Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore after all-action race
*Pole-sitting Yamaha-powered YART finishes second overall
*F.C.C. TSR Honda France completes podium after delays end victory hopes
*First of three 24-hour EWC races for 2022 broadcast live around the world
Yoshimura SERT Motul has made it back-to-back wins in the 24 Heures Motos to begin the defence of its FIM Endurance World Championship title in style.
Riders Gregg Black, Sylvain Guintoli and Xavier Siméon were supreme for the Le Mans-based squad to win the 45th edition of an event that welcomed fans back after two years of COVID-19 restrictions and resulted in a combined attendance of 62,000.
Always quick, always consistent, the trio combined perfectly and never faltered, the only major scare coming when their Bridgestone-equipped Suzuki GSXR-1000 ran short of fuel during a lengthy safety car period late on Saturday afternoon.
Otherwise, it was a result that reflected Yoshimura SERT Motul’s professionalism and meticulous preparation during 24 challenging hours, an approach that was visible up and down the pitlane as tireless human endeavour – mainly by volunteers – took centre stage.
“It’s an incredible victory and much harder than last year,” said British-born Frenchman Black, who was able to take the traditional running start despite breaking his heel during the Le Mans Pre-Test last month. “The other teams were really, really strong so we had to keep pushing for 24 hours, so the stints were intense, fast and the pace was absolutely incredible. My team-mates did a great job, we’re really happy and proud.”
Yoshimura SERT Motul Team Director Yohei Kato said: “Last year we won the 24 Heures Motos and Bol d’Or and this year we have three 24-hour races. We developed the bike and make our team work focused on the 24 hours, so to achieve this win I am very satisfied with our team, our bike and our riders.”
YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC started the EWC season opener on pole position for the third year running after Karel Hanika set a new lap record during Friday morning’s Second Qualifying session. But when the Yamaha YZF-R1 wouldn’t fire up at the start, the Czech rider joined team-mates Niccolò Canepa and Marvin Fritz in engaging in a heroic charge through the field to finish second, despite the starting issue remaining a hindrance throughout the race.
F.C.C. TSR Honda France, with Mike Di Meglio, Josh Hook and Gino Rea riding, was in front after eight hours, but the squad’s challenge soon unravelled with costly pitstops required to fix firstly a gear selector issue and then to replace a broken silencer. A ride-through penalty caused further delay, while team newcomer Rea fell on Sunday morning, but was able to bring the Honda CB R1000 RR-R back to the pits for repair. Although the delay briefly dropped F.C.C. TSR Honda France out of the podium places, it wasn’t long before the position was reclaimed.
Viltaïs Racing Igol ran as high as third and was in a comfortable fourth place as the best independent outfit when a technical failure led to a heart-breaking exit for the French team.
Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore hit back from delays caused by a broken oil filter to convert its Dunlop Superstock Trophy pole position into the category win in a fine fourth overall with its production-spec Yamaha. However, BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers, National Motos, No Limits Motor Team and Team 33 Louit April Moto all enjoyed spells at the front of the category with the top three often running in close proximity to each other. It was the ultimate advert for the Dunlop Superstock Trophy, which is contested by smaller, lesser funded teams.
No Limits Motor Team eventually finished second in the Dunlop Superstock Trophy in fifth overall following a flurry of late position changes with National Motos next ahead of 33 Louit April Moto. Kawasaki-powered Formula EWC squad Team Bolliger Switzerland took eighth as Pitlane Endurance and Team LH Racing rounded out the top 10.
Myriad delays restricted Tati Team Beringer Racing to P11, while ERC Endurance Ducati’s fightback following a crash when Xavi Forès avoided a backmarker in the seventh hour was slowed by a lengthy pit stop on Sunday.
Wójcik Racing Team was forced to retire its #77 entry following a mechanical failure and an accident. A holed radiator ended BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team’s hopes of what was shaping up to be a strong bid for a podium finish.
Webike SRC Kawasaki France was had podium hopes of its own but they were dashed when the team was forced to spend more than one hour in the pits during the night.
It was a dramatic start to the race on Saturday when Christophe Seigneur was unable to avoid colliding with a slow-moving Bradley Smith. Seigneur was able to walk back to the pits, but ex-MotoGP rider Smith was taken to hospital for medical checks as a result of the substantial rear impact, having received immediate medical attention at the side of the track when the field circulated under safety car conditions. Smith suffered no serious injuries but will remain in hospital for a period of observation. His team MOTO AIN, worked furiously to repair the damage but with the Yamaha not running in perfect order when it returned and with only two drivers available for the full 24-hour duration, the French outfit made the tough decision to withdraw.
Formula EWC, Sylvain Guintoli (Yoshimura SERT Motul): “It was fantastic, it was really, really tiring with a lot of pace from the competitors so we had to keep pushing all the way. It was 24 hours full speed with a very small margin to try to control the race, but we go home with the big trophy. Endurance is a team sport and without everybody in the team on the technical side, my team-mates you can’t achieve anything so I feel verry lucky to be part of this team. We’ve done well and I hope it carries on.”
Dunlop Superstock Trophy, Philipp Steinmayr (Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore: “It’s really awesome, it’s a dream come true and is just the result of really good work from the whole team. They were fast in the pitstops and my team-mates were very fast on the track and we made up the time we lost during the night. It was really hard, my toughest race until now but it’s really nice to get a victory.”
WHAT’S NEXT? 24H SPA EWC Motos, Belgium, June 2-5
A track as legendary as it is demanding hosts international-level motorbike racing for the first time since 2001 when the 24H SPA EWC Motos revives the spirit of the 24 Heures de Liège, once an EWC calendar mainstay. The iconic circuit has undergone extensive safety upgrades mandated by FIM and FMB specifically for the EWC’s return. Central to the changes, which have been ratified by the FIA in line with car racing requirements, are expanded run-off areas at several corners, the repositioning of safety barriers in some sections, plus the minor realignment of Turn 9, for bike use only. More information: https://www.24hspamotos.com/en/
More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki Press Office:
YOSHIMURA SERT MOTUL WINS LE MANS EWC OPENER
Yoshimura SERT Motul: Suzuki GSX-R1000R – 1st
Defending World Champion Yoshimura Suzuki Endurance Racing Team Motul raced to victory at the 24 Heures Motos EWC season opener in Le Mans, France today.
Yoshimura SERT Motul riders Gregg Black, Sylvain Guintoli and Xavier Simeon completed a total of 840 laps at the Bugatti Circuit, 1:45.582 minutes ahead of nearest rivals YART and took 23 pit stops, under favourable weather conditions and in front of a large crowd.
Fast starter Black, from second on the grid, took the holeshot aboard the team’s GSX-R1000R Suzuki and was able to get the better of his opponents right out of the first corner. After spending much of the race in third, the team moved to the front on Saturday evening; a position they dominated with a strong race plan, reliable machine and fast, efficient pit stops by the Yoshimura SERT Motul technical staff.
Through the night, the trio of riders remained fixed on the plan and Black took the event lap record at daybreak with a time of 1.36.195. Always focused on its goals, the Franco-Japanese team gave everything to maintain its lead in the race against strong competition.
On the track, the Suzuki riders did not make any mistakes, maintaining control throughout the challenging 24 hour event, which witnessed the deployment of a safety car no less than eight times. The team even overcame a tricky incident during the outing of the second safety car when Guintoli ran out of fuel but, as ever, in the pits, the technical team provided the perfect back-up until the chequered flag fell.
In addition to the extra 23 points acquired in qualifying, and at the 8th and 16th hours of the race, 40 points were earned for the victory which gave Yoshimura SERT Motul a total of 63 points.
• Italian Suzuki team No Limits Motor Team finished fifth overall and second in the Superstock class aboard their privateer GSX-R1000R.
The Yoshimura SERT Motul team will now head to Belgium on June 4th and 5th for the 24 Hours of Spa.
Damien SAULNIER – Team Manager:
“What a week! What a race! I was impressed by the level of performance of all the teams. I am really admiring the work of our three riders. I am also very proud of the whole technical team around me, with Yohei, with the Yoshimura staff in Japan, with the SERT team in Le Mans. I think we are all happy with this race, which was exceptional and fantastic.”
Yohei KATO – Team Director:
“I am glad to start the second season with such a brilliant result and I am very satisfied with the work done by the whole team. We put a lot of effort into preparing for the 2022 season over the winter and it has paid off. We have the same team as when we won the 24 Heures Motos last year, and their hard work has once again been rewarded by a victory!”
“I was expected to do the start because I usually do pretty well. This year it was a bit different. I crashed heavily in the preparatory practice a few days ago where I broke my heel. In the end I managed to get over it and ensure a good start. Then it was an incredible race, with a very strong pace from the beginning to the end. We had to push as hard as we could in every stint because we had some really strong competitors. My teammates were also very strong and the whole team did a great job.”
“The team really did a great job on the strategy to allow us to do a maximum of laps and a minimum of pit stops. On the track, the bike showed an extraordinary potential. We were able to set some incredible lap times. In fact, Gregg broke the absolute record in the race. But it was still a tough race because we had to push hard to the finish line.”
This is a very different victory to 2021. The race was difficult. We need the speed, the strategy, the whole team in the box that worked perfectly. Our fuel consumption was also better than our opponents and that also played an important role. We gave everything this weekend, and today we can be proud to go home with the trophy.”
More, from a press release issued by Yamaha:
YART Yamaha Score Sensational Second at Le Mans
The Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team of Karel Hanika, Niccolo Canepa, and Marvin Fritz started their 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship season stunningly by securing a podium at the opening round, the 45th edition of the Le Mans 24 Heures Motos in France.
The YART Yamaha team started the weekend by ending Thursday’s Free Practice in second before securing a third consecutive pole position at the iconic Bugatti Circuit in North-West France on Friday. Glorious weather greeted the riders for the entirety of the 24-hour race, as the passionate French fans returned to Le Mans for the first time since 2019 due to the global COVID-19 Pandemic.
Czech rider Karel Hanika, who celebrated his 26th Birthday on Thursday, lined up for the traditional endurance starting procedure, but an unfortunate technical issue meant he could not get his bike started on the grid and dropped down to last place.
Confounding this issue was a nasty crash at the start that saw the safety car deployed immediately, meaning that Hanika could not begin a charge through the pack until the safety car pulled in after eight laps. Undeterred, the former Moto3 rider started to battle his way through the crowded field, and by the end of the first hour, he handed the YART Yamaha R1 over to his teammate Marin Fritz in fifth. The German rider kept this momentum going with some superb riding, and by the end of his first stint, the team were up to third.
Italian Niccolo Canepa took the third stint, and by the time he came in to swap the bike, the team had clawed an impressive amount of time and were now in second and involved in the battle for victory just 15 seconds behind the leaders. Sadly, more drama was to follow, as, in the EWC, two safety cars feature for each incident. On Hanika’s second stint, he was stuck behind a different safety car than the leaders, losing 45 precious seconds.
Once again, adversity brought out the true character of the YART Yamaha team, as all three riders got their heads down and applied themselves in their efforts to hunt down the race leaders. What followed was an intriguing endurance battle, with two teams using different tactics in an attempt to win the race. The YART Yamaha team had the pace, but their rivals appeared to be able to make the Bridgestone tyres last longer.
For the rest of the race, a fascinating pit-stop cat and mouse game ensued, with all three of the YART Yamaha riders performing faultlessly throughout the night and on Sunday morning to give the team a chance of victory. They continued to reduce the deficit to the leaders during every stint, only to see them open a one-lap gap again after each round of pit stops. They responded by riding flawlessly, not placing a wheel off track during the entire 24 hours and maintaining an impressive pace throughout, with all three riders pushing to the limit.
As the hours passed, the race looked like it would go down to the wire. YART continued to pressure their rivals to force them into a mistake. With just 25 minutes remaining on the clock, Canepa returned to the pits for a “splash and dash” strategy and handed the reigns of the R1 to Hanika to set up a dramatic finish.
Unfortunately, a crash during the start saw the safety car deployed. That was how the race would finish, with the team finishing on 840 laps in second place, 1:45.582s behind the winner and securing their first podium at Le Mans since the 2016-2017 season. It was an excellent start to the championship, and the team managed to secure 55 points from the race and qualifying, leaving them only eight points behind the leaders with three more races left on the calendar, two of which are 24-hour races.
There was more joy for Yamaha as the Team 18 Sapeus Pompiers CMS Motostore of Hugo Clare, Baptiste Guittet, and Phillip Steinmayr claimed the Dunlop Superstock Trophy victory after finishing fourth overall. The Maco Racing Team of Anthony West, Enzo Boulom, and Richard Bodis fought valiantly despite several issues to finish the race in 32nd. At the same time, the Viltais Racing Igol team, made up of Florian Alt, Erwan Nigon, and Steven Odendaal was looking on course for a podium until disaster struck. A technical fault saw them forced to retire from the race in hour 19. Team Moto Ain’s British rider Bradley Smith got hit from behind during the start incident and was taken to hospital for further check and the team withdrew from the race during the third hour. There were also retirements for the Wojcik Racing Team after 14 hours due to a crash, and the 3ART Best of Bike team as the demanding Bugatti Circuit took no prisoners over the 24 hours.
Up next on the 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship calendar is the Spa EWC Motos at the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on the 2nd-5th of June.
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team
“I am happy as this is my first podium in a 24-hour race! It is a great feeling to achieve this. I am very proud of the team because we did not make a single mistake apart from our issue at the start. We were the fastest riders on track in pretty much every session, the mechanics did an amazing job with the pit stops, and we did not have to visit the box once. After the last couple of years, many people have doubted our ability in the 24-hour races, so it was great to show them our potential. I think we can build on this result and be even stronger in the next races.”
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team
“Of course, we always want to win, but honestly, this second place feels like a dream because we have not managed to finish a 24-hour race for two years, so it was an amazing feeling to finish this race, secure a podium, and score as many points as we have at the first race of the season. We know what we have to work on, but it was an almost perfect race as a team. Each rider did an amazing job, and honestly, I couldn’t be prouder of the team, and now we are ready and can’t wait for Spa!”
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team
“We are delighted; due to some issues and lots of bad luck, we haven’t been able to finish a 24-hour race for a couple of years. So, to taste the champagne on the podium with my teammates is amazing. We know that we have the total package we need to fight for the championship. We are only eight points behind the leader, so the title race is still open, and we know that we can push hard at Spa to bring the victory home!”
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team – Team Manager
“Our target was to get off to a good start for the season. We did not enjoy a great start during the race, but we fought back superbly to ensure we scored as many points as possible, which is the most important thing. It has been a while since we finished a 24-hour race. So, this result gives us confidence with the bike and the team for the rest of the season, especially in the two 24-hour races. The next race is at Spa, and we are ready to take the top step of the podium. I am thrilled because our riders, team, and bike performed perfectly apart from the issue at the start. In 24 hours, not one rider ran off track, we did not have one bad pit stop, and apart from the start, the bike was perfect. We have to be happy, as we are just 8 points behind the leaders and already have more points than the winner of Suzuka will get, so we are happy!”
More, from a press release issued by F.C.C. TSR Honda France:
F.C.C. TSR Honda France finishes third at the 24 Heures Motos
The 24 Heures Motos, the opening round of the 2022 FIM EWC championship, started on Saturday 16 April at the Bugatti circuit with promising results for the Honda teams, F.C.C. TSR Honda France and National Motos. Both teams finished on the third step of the podium in their respective categories.
F.C.C. TSR Honda France started the 24-hour race from the third place on the starting grid with the Frenchman Mike Di Meglio, based on the combined results achieved during good qualifying sessions.
Immediately after the start, a collision forced the entrance of the safety car during the first eight laps, but as soon as the race was resumed, Di Meglio placed the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP in the lead and completed his first stint in 2nd place.
In the first stint for Gino Rea, he did a great lap at the beginning of the race and managed to take over the lead. Rea created a gap of 3 seconds before the stint of Josh Hook, and the Australian extended more the lead in the next pit stop.
With very consistent and solid laps, the #5 Fireblade led the race until the eight-hour race, with a very solid pace but unscheduled pitstops forced the team to step back into third position.
Just entering the last quarter of the race, Gino Rea’s crash made the team do an amazing job by fixing the bike, losing only 11 minutes approximately at the pit box without consequence on the position. The F.C.C. TSR Honda France demonstrated a true endurance spirit and fought until the end to secure the podium.
Leading the race during the first 8 hours and being 3rd at the 16th hour, it gives to the team 18 intermediate points in addition to the 3 points for the qualifying. The team leaves Le Mans with 49 points and third in the provisional FIM EWC Championship with this third result.
Last year’s winners, National Motos Honda, enjoyed a strong race with a new ride line-up. The Superstock team, who started in 13th place on the grid (2nd in Superstock class), finished claiming the third place on the podium.
The Fireblade #55 was able to keep his second position, but a minor issue with the lighting at the end of the first quarter made the team enter the pits and stand in fourth place.
The team managed to secure the podium with very consistent stints by the National Motos Honda riders and crossed the chequered flag in the third position in the Superstock category.
Honda privateer team RAC 41 Chromeburner had a tough weekend with the injury of the Belgium rider Gregory Fastré on Friday and the early retirement during the race due to mechanical issues with the bike. The Honda #41 leaves Le Mans with positive feelings as all riders had a good rhythm during all the week with a very competitive Fireblade.
The next round of the 2022 FIM EWC Championship will take place at the circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, which will host the 24 Hours of Spa on June 4 and 5.
Gino Rea 5
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
This podium is a great way to start in this new team. There were some great things during the 24 Heures Motos, like leading the race by a minute, and others that could have been costly. We are lucky to have been able to keep this 3rd place until the finish. But overall, it was a very positive experience. I am very happy; we take big points and have a very good pace.
Josh Hook 5
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
It was a tough race. The Yamaha and the Suzuki had an extremely fast pace. We probably also had the pace to win, but some problems put us a bit behind. Nevertheless, we can be satisfied with this result because we took valuable points for the championship.
Mike Di Meglio 5
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
It’s a good result for the championship because there are a lot of points to grab over the three 24-hour races. Of course, there is a little disappointment because I think that the victory was within our reach. We showed what we were capable of. The bike is competitive; my teammates and the team did a great job during the refueling. I can’t wait for the next race to take our revenge!
More, from a press release issued by BMW Motorrad Motorsport:
A stone in the radiator: unfortunate retirement from the 24h Le Mans for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team.
Season-opener in the FIM Endurance World Championship 2022.
BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team battling in the leading packing with the #37 BMW M 1000 RR in the early hours of the race.
After four and a half hours, the team is forced to retire due to a stone lodged in the radiator.
Le Mans. The 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA), the season-opener in the FIM Endurance World Championship 2022, began according to plan for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team. Starting from fourth place, Jérémy Guarnoni (FRA), Markus Reiterberger (GER) and Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR) were battling in the leading pack during the early hours of the race, putting themselves in a good position for another podium finish in the FIM EWC. However, a stone lodged in the radiator was the cause of an unfortunate retirement after four and a half hours.
The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team had already shown in practice and qualifying sessions that it remains one of the best teams in the FIM EWC this season. The pace with the race set-up was particularly promising and the team was brimming with optimism at the start of the 24-hour race on Saturday afternoon. Starting rider Guarnoni, Reiterberger and Mikhalchik kept the #37 BMW M 1000 RR consistently in the top four. The plan was to work their way gradually up through the field as the race progressed.
However, Guarnoni was forced to make an unexpected pit stop after four and a half hours. A stone had pierced the radiator and the subsequent overheating damaged the engine so severely that it was impossible to continue the race.
The team and riders are now fully focused on the second stop for the FIM EWC 2022, the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) on the first weekend in June.
Reactions to the 24h Le Mans.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “Of course, that early retirement was hard for us to swallow. Another top result would have been more than deserved for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team. This confirmed that the hard work that we put in with the team over the winter had paid off. The overall package was fast, the racing pace was spot on and the fuel consumption, which is an important factor in endurance racing, was very efficient. The riders also gave a superb performance and the team worked superbly in the pits. It is extremely bad luck for a stone to hit the radiator and cause a chain reaction that ended the race for the #37. However, that can happen. Now we have to build on the many positive aspects and on what we learned from Le Mans. Preparations are underway for the next race. Spa will be a home race for the team and we would all like to convert the good performance into the result it deserves.”
Werner Daemen, Team Manager BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team: “The race was good – until we had a big stone in our radiator. The water was straight out, the oil temperature went up and the engine broke. It was very disappointing for everybody that the race ended that way. For the riders, for the team, the mechanics, they all had worked so hard this winter to prepare the bike. We were very well prepared but this was something that nobody could foresee. We have a big protector in front of our radiator but this stone was at least two centimetres big and when it hits the radiator at 260 km/h then nothing helps. This happens, we are very disappointed but we will come back!”
Markus Reiterberger: “We started pretty well into the race and were able to constantly be within the top-four. We expected to benefit from our efficient fuel consumption after nine or ten hours and that our pace would improve even more during the cooler night stints but unfortunately we did not get that far. It of course is a bitter pill to swallow that a stone in the radiator ended our race early but no one could foresee this, this was just bad luck. It is a pity and we just take two points from qualifying away. But we don’t give up, we still have two 24-hour races and at least one eight-hour race this season. I feel sorry for the entire team who had worked so hard over winter to give us the best possible package. It really would have deserved to get a top result.”
Ilya Mikhalchik: “Overall, the race week was quite positive for us because we showed our speed over the entire week and the bike was particularly good for the race. For the first four and a half hours, we were fighting for the podium positions with a really good feeling. Unfortunately, we had bad luck and a stone decided to stop our race. But I already said last year after the Bol d’Or: we lose together and we win together. And afterwards, we have won at Most. So I am confident that more success is coming in the future. I am looking forward to getting back on this bike and fight again for top positions at my team’s home race at Spa.”