June 10th, 2023
With the 24 Heures du Mans car race celebrating 100 years this weekend, here's a reminder of what happened when the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship began at the famous venue in April.
F.C.C. TSR Honda France made the best possible start to its FIM Endurance World Championship title defence with victory in an all-action, all-drama 24 Heures Motos, which recorded a weekend fan attendance of 77,200, the highest number since 2011.
Mike Di Meglio, Josh Hook and Alan Techer combined to claim victory on the #1 Bridgestone-equipped Honda CBR1000 RR-R in front of a watching Gino Rea. The Briton was part of the F.C.C. TSR Honda France line-up that finished third in last year’s race but continues to recover from serious head injuries sustained in a crash in the Suzuka 8 Hours last August.
Rea received a guard of honour from the EWC riders and their teams as he set out on a highly emotional parade lap shortly before the 46th 24 Heures Motos got underway at 15h00 CET on Saturday. He then followed his former team-mates’ progress with great interest before being awarded the Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy for his incredible determination not to give up in face of great adversity. Delhalle won the 24 Heures Motos on two occasions but lost his life in a testing accident at the start of 2017 season. His wife and two young children were present at Le Mans to present rea with the award.
For Frenchman Di Meglio and Australian Hook meanwhile, the result marked their third victory in the 24 Heures Motos. For Techer, the win was his second in the traditional EWC season opener on the Circuit Bugatti.
“Unbelievable,” the 30-year-old Hook said afterwards. “We won the championship last year without actually winning a race. Obviously we want to win races, we want to show we are the best and to come here, first round of the season and win Le Mans, such a big amazing race that everyone wants to win, it’s a bucket-list race and to come here and win is amazing and all thanks goes to the team. They worked so hard over the winter to come to the race this year with a bike that’s a winning package. Today’s performance just shows that. Our race was flawless, there was no mistake in the garage, with the mechanics, the bike was sound and all three of us three riders didn’t make a mistake either. It’s the perfect 24-hour race in my opinion and it’s not often you do a 24-hour race and have no problems. And an amazing day for us.”
The Japanese squad came through a typically challenging day and night contest, heading home YART Yamaha and BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team in the victory chase by a three-lap margin. The second and third-placed squads both enjoyed periods at the head of the pack but lost vital minutes in the pits.
A brake caliper issue proved costly for YART Yamaha when Niccolò Canepa was behind the handlebars before Karel Hanika crashed on oil during the early hours of Sunday morning. Meanwhile, Illya Mykhalchyk crashed his BMW entry late on Saturday but rebounded well.
Having led during the opening stages, Honda Viltaïs Racing finished fourth ahead of ERC Endurance Ducati, which was in the podium fight before a lengthy pitstop was required to complete a clutch change.
TATI Team Beringer Racing rounded out the top six followed by Yoshimura SERT Motul. The pole-sitting Le Mans-based squad lost 18 laps in the opening hour when Gregg Black crashed heavily follow contact with Josh Hook at the Dunlop Chicane on lap one.
Team Kawasaki Webike Trickstar was next among the Formula EWC contingent with Ryosuke Iwato drafted in to make his 24 Heures Motos debut shortly before the start alongside his fellow Japanese Kazuki Watanabe and Frenchman Randy de Puniet. Team Bolliger Switzerland was next with Wójcik Racing Team completing the Formula EWC top 10 after a crash for Spaniard Isaac Viñales. Team LRP Poland and Motobox Kremer Racing were next home. Maco Racing reached the finish despite myriad delays.
A heavy crash on Saturday evening for Bastien Mackls ended KM99’s hopes of success on its EWC debut, while an engine failure hit Moto Ain’s hopes after 175 laps.
Racing through the night is always one of the most demanding aspects of the EWC, but the challenge was increased significantly during the 46h running of the 24 Heures Motos as ambient and track temperatures plunged to a little more than freezing. Smoke from the packed campsites close to the track also meant visibility was compromised with early morning mist adding another hazard to the mix. Despite the challenging conditions, the EWC regulars posted consistently high and evenly matched lap times to underline the close competition in the series, which resumes at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium from 16-18 June.
Triumph for Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team in Dunlop Superstock Trophy
The newly-formed Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team claimed what at one stage appeared to be an unlikely victory in the FIM Endurance World Cup, which also counts for the Dunlop Superstock Trophy. Two unscheduled stops due to mechanical issues handed Chromeburner-RAC-Honda the initiative, only for Jonathan Hardt to crash heavily on Sunday morning on oil dropped by a competitor. Although the French team eventually returned to action it had to make do with fourth position in class. Having endured a luckless 2022 season, 3ART Best of Bike finished second followed by Honda No Limits.
French youngster Loïc Arbel, who partnered compatriot Kenny Foray and Germany’s Jan Bühn to victory, said: “Without the crash we could win because we secure a pace before some problems on the bike, after having some problems on the bike we were on the same lap as the #41 bike so we put a good pace in place and we could win.”
It proved a race of attrition in the Superstock category. Team Louit April Moto, which started the class on pole position, retired following a crash. Last season’s FIM Endurance World Cup title winner Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore was forced out by a mechanical issue shortly after 02h00. BMRT 3 D Maxxess Nevers was eliminated in an early-race collision, while Aviobike, Falcon Racing, JMA Racing Action Bike, National Motos Honda, OG Motorsport World Endurance Team and Pit Lane Endurance also tried but failed to finish. However, Slider Endurance, ADSS97, TRT 27 Bazar 2 La Bécane, Wójcik Racing Team, Holland Motorstore Racing, Energie Endurance, Uniserv Moto82 Team, Team 202 and Players all crossed the finish line in the Superstock category.
June 9th, 2023
The second edition of the 24H SPA EWC Motos will be contested by some of the best riders in the business with confirmation of the provisional entry list for round two of the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship.
Thirty-seven teams have registered for the EWC’s ultimate rollercoaster race, which takes place at the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps from 16-18 June and will be shown live on the Eurosport platform and other broadcasters around the world.
Preparing to embark on day and night action in the Ardennes are world champions, national title winners, riders with MotoGP and World Superbike experience, plus young stars aiming for the top in the EWC. And here are just some of the entry list highlights:
Take two for BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team?
After winning the inaugural 24H SPA EWC Motos in June 2022, Belgian squad BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team is preparing to push for a victory double under the guidance of formidable ex-racer Werner Daemen. Riders Jérémy Guarnoni, Illya Mykhalchyk and Markus Reiterberger will be aiming to keep the #37 BMW at the top of the timesheets.
World champions on a roll
Having won the season-opening 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans, F.C.C. TSR Honda France is on a roll heading to Spa where it placed third in 2022 following a heroic final stint from Gino Rea. While the Briton won’t be in action this year as he continues his recovery from serious injury, the combination of Mike Di Meglio, Josh Hook and Alan Techer provide a potent threat.
Leblanc brings podium pedigree to Team Kawasaki Webike Trickstar
Part of the TATI Team Beringer Racing line-up that finished second overall at Spa 12 months ago, Grégory Leblanc is a new addition to the Team Kawasaki Webike Trickstar attack, which also includes Randy de Puniet and Spa rookie Kazuki Watanabe. Meanwhile, Spaniard Román Ramos takes Leblanc’s place on the #4 Kawasaki alongside Hugo Clere and Baptiste Guittet, part of the 2022 FIM Endurance World Cup-winning Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers Motostore squad.
Rivals eye Spa revenge
YART Yamaha and Yoshimura SERT Motul both have scores to settle at Spa. The Austrian YART team was leading in 2022 when engine failure spelt retirement on the final morning, while its Suzuki-powered rival lost out on a podium place during a thrilling late-race battle.
Home heroes on show
Belgium-based KM99 launched its EWC attack to the world ahead of last year’s 24H SPA EWC Motos. Now it’s preparing to put on a show for real with local rider Bastien Mackels finally getting the chance to compete at home in the EWC after injury ruled him out last season.
Inspired by past glories
Team Bolliger Switzerland’s Kevin Bolliger “grew up in the Spa paddock” watching his father Hanspeter competing in the 24 Heures de Liège, Belgium’s previous EWC fixture and the inspiration behind the 24H SPA EWC Motos. The Kawasaki squad is one of the leading privateer outfits preparing for action along with Yamaha-powered Moto Ain and Wójcik Racing Team, which welcomes back Sheridan Morais to its Formula EWC attack following injury. Honda Viltaïs Racing completed the 2022 EWC season with victory in the Bol d’Or and will look to Spa to build on its fine fourth place finish in April’s 24 Heures Motos, where ERC Endurance Ducati, Maco Racing, Motobox Kremer Racing and Team LRP Poland also scored important points. They will all be targeting more success at Spa where Mana'au Compétition soutient la Ligue contre le cancer will be a new permanent EWC team.
Headed by Le Mans-winning Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team, the Dunlop Superstock Trophy contingent also features ADSS 97, Chromeburner RAC41 Honda, Honda No Limits, National Motos Honda, Pitlane Endurance and Slider Endurance.
OG Motorsport World Endurance Team welcomes back Camille Hedelin to its ranks, while Gabriel Pons is returning to Team 33 Louit April Moto, which led in Spa last season.
Two-time Supermoto world champion Marc Reiner-Schmidt comes in for the injured Marco Fetz at Energie Endurance where Sander Claessen is a new recruit for Spa. An injury sustained in the Isle of Man TT Races recently has ruled out Matthieu Lagrive, leading to 3ART Best of Bike calling up Alex Plancassagne as his replacement.
Aviobike, Holland Motorstore Racing, JMA Racing Action Bike, Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers Motostore, Team 202, TRT Bazar 2 la Bécane, Uniserv Moto82 Team and Wójcik Racing Team will also be in contention for Dunlop Superstock Trophy honours along with Team Racing 85.
Provisional entry list in numbers:
37: Provisional entries
16: Formula EWC registrations
21: Superstock contenders
36: Permanent EWC teams
21: Countries represented
6: Bike manufacturers in action
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