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Event preview: All down to the Bol as EWC heroes go for world title glory

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Event preview: All down to the Bol as EWC heroes go for world title gloryEvent preview: All down to the Bol as EWC heroes go for world title glory

11 September 2023

Five titles will be up for grabs when the curtain comes down on another epic FIM Endurance World Championship season during the Bol d’Or 24-hour race at Circuit Paul Ricard in southern France from 14-17 September.

Six squads are locked in battle for the FIM Endurance World Championship for Teams following three action-packed counters in France, Belgium and Japan. And it’s a similar story in the FIM Endurance World Cup with as many as 10 outfits still in contention to lift the Dunlop Superstock Trophy. With a maximum of 85 points still to fight for in each category, the destinations of all titles are wide open and set to go down to the wire next Sunday afternoon.

F.C.C. TSR Honda France tops the headlining Formula EWC category after three rounds as it bids to claim back-to-back titles. Frenchman Mike Di Meglio, who partners compatriot Alan Techer and Australian Josh Hook on the #1 Honda, said: “The feeling is good and we can be confident we can keep the #1 for next season. I am 35 years old now so I am starting to be close to the end of my career. I want to do a good end of my career and give many titles to Honda and my team. I will not put more pressure on myself but I know we can do it.”

After taking the EWC title last season without winning a race, F.C.C. TSR Honda France began its title defence by claiming victory in the 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans in April. However, with an advantage of 13 points in the championship chase, Di Meglio has admitted that winning the Bol d’Or, a feat he’s achieved on two previous occasions, isn’t vital to his team’s glory hopes.

“Winning a race is not the most important, we saw last year we didn’t win a race but we were world champion,” he said. “Sometimes it’s better to sacrifice having a great race if, at the end, we can be world champion. This is the most important.”

Having claimed its first 24-hour race win in the EWC since 2009 when it finished first at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in June, Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team starts this year’s Bol d’Or firmly in the championship mix, 13 points behind F.C.C. TSR Honda France.

“We wish we would be closer or ahead, but 13 points is nothing in the EWC, especially in the Bol d’Or where we get more points,” said Germany’s Marvin Fritz, who partners Italian Niccolò Canepa and Czech Karel Hanika in the Austria-based organisation. “Last year SERT was 24 points ahead of us and after one and a half hours in the race we could be world champion. In one and a half hours a lot of things can change, unfortunately we were unlucky last year, many teams were with the strong back wind on the Mistral Straight. But we can catch five points in the qualifying and you never know what can happen in the race. We will not give up fighting, we have a strong team and we are very confident.”

With a 38-point deficit to overcome, a first EWC victory of 2023 for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team would provide a huge boost to the Belgian outfit in its title pursuit. After Ukrainian Illya Mykhalchyk qualified on pole for the Bol d’Or last year, Markus Reiterberger, who completes the BMW line-up along with Frenchman Jérémy Guarnoni, is aiming high.

“Winning the title would be the main goal we are working for and my personal goal for sure,” said the German two-time EWC race winner. “I’ve won many championships, but I miss a world championship. This would be my main objective, I hope we can do it and I know we can do it.” 

The Bol d’Or will be broadcast live on TV and online throughout the world and will also benefit from extensive highlights packages. More details at https://www.fimewc.com/where-to-watch.

MIGHTY MISTRAL TO TEST EWC RIDERS AND THEIR BIKES
Having celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2022, this year’s Bol d’Or is the 30th to take place at Circuit Paul Ricard. While it’s the third longest track on the calendar at 5.673 kilometres, 1.8 kilometres are taken up by the imposing Mistral Straight. A place to pass and be passed, the Mistral Straight puts a big strain on the competing bikes, which will run for approximately 20 seconds at more than 300kph.

HOW EWC POINTS ARE SCORED IN THE BOL D’OR
With the Bol d’Or 24-hour race once again deciding the outcome of the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship for Teams and Manufacturers, the 2023 FIM Endurance World Cup for Teams and Manufacturers and the EWC Independent Trophy, this is a refresher on how points can be scored at Circuit Paul Ricard.

Bol d’or race points are multiplied by a factor of 1.5 and awarded to teams in the Formula EWC and Superstock categories as follows: 

1st = 60 points; 2nd = 49.5; 3rd = 42; 4th = 36; 5th 31.5; 6th = 28.5; 7th = 25.5; 8th = 22.5; 9th = 19.5; 10th = 16.5; 11th = 15; 12th = 13.5; 13th = 12; 14th = 10.5; 15th = 9; 16th = 7.5; 17th = 6; 18th = 4.5; 19th = 3; 20th = 1.5.

Points will also be awarded to teams in the Formula EWC and Superstock categories after 8 and 16 hours of racing as follows: 1st = 10 points; 2nd = 9; 3rd = 8; 4th = 7; 5th = 6; 6th = 5; 7th = 4; 8th = 3; 9th = 2; 10th = 1.

Prior to the race getting under way, the fastest five Formula EWC and Superstock teams following the completion of Second Qualifying on 15 September will score points as follows: 1st = 5 points; 2nd = 4 points; 3rd = 3 points; 4th = 2 points; 5th = 1 point.

It means a Formula EWC or Superstock team can score a maximum of 85 points, providing they qualify on pole position, leader after both eight hours and 16 hours of racing and win their respective category.

SUPER-EXCITING EWC SUPERSTOCK FINALE IN STORE
As well as the battle for FIM Endurance World Championship title glory, the Dunlop-equipped FIM Endurance World Cup for Superstock machinery will go down to the Bol d’Or season finale at Circuit Paul Ricard next week.

Ahead of the third and final counter from 14-17 September, last season’s Bol d’Or Superstock winner, Chromeburner-RAC41-Honda, tops the provisional standings by six points ahead of Honda No Limits with National Motos Honda just two points further back following its category triumph in the 24H SPA EWC Motos in June.

Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team, the Superstock winner in the 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans in April, is fourth in the provisional title table and with a 16-point margin to Chromeburner-RAC41-Honda to overcome following its non-finish at Spa. Team 33 Louit April Moto and 3ART Best of Bike hold fifth and sixth positions respectively.

With 85 points on offer in the Bol d’Or season decider, more than 10 squads remain in realistic contention for the FIM Endurance World Cup for Teams and the Dunlop Superstock Trophy titles. They also include Wójcik Racing Team, TRT27 Bazar 2 La Bécane, Team Slider Endurance, Junior Team LMS Suzuki and BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers, the Bol d’Or Superstock winner in 2021.

Some of the other Dunlop Superstock Trophy teams set for Bol d’Or action are ADSS97, Aviobike, Holland Motorstore Racing, JMA Racing Action Bike, OG Motorsport World Endurance Team, Pitlane Endurance - JP3, 2022 title-winning Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore, Team 202, Uniserv Moto82 Team and Falcon Racing, which is back on EWC duty after being unable to compete in the 24H SPA EWC Motos.

PROVISIONAL TIMETABLE (KEY EWC TIMINGS):
Thursday 14 September:
14h30-16h30: Free Practice
17h30-17h50: First Qualifying (Blue Rider)
18h00-18h20: First Qualifying (Yellow Rider)
18h30-18h50: First Qualifying (Red Rider)
19h00-19h20: First Qualifying (Green Rider)
20h30-21h30: Night Free Practice

Friday 15 September:
09h00-09h20: Second Qualifying (Blue Rider)
09h30-09h50: Second Qualifying (Yellow Rider)
10h00-10h20: Second Qualifying (Red Rider)
10h30-10h50: Second Qualifying (Green Rider)
17h20-18h50: Pitwalk

Saturday 16 September:
15h00: Start of the 86th Bol d’Or

Sunday 17 September:
15h00: Finish of the 86th Bol d’Or
*All timings shown in CET

BOL D’OR IN 100 WORDS:
Tony Zind rode solo to win the first Bol d’Or on a five-kilometre circuit of dirt roads close to Paris in 1922. For the 100th anniversary race in 2022, Florian Alt, Erwan Nigon and Steven Odendaal joined forces to triumph on Circuit Paul Ricard’s 5.673-kilometre layout. Since the first edition, seven venues have staged the race. Paul Ricard held its first Bol d’Or in 1979 and the 2023 event, the EWC season finale, will be the 30th at the track. At more than one kilometre in length, the Mistral Straight has turned the race into an exciting battle of attrition.

BOL D’OR FAST FACTS:
*The Bol d’Or was first held in 1922 on a five-kilometre circuit of dirt roads between Vaujours, Clichy-sous-Bois and Livry-Gargan.
*Back then it was more a question of survival than an out-and-out race with one rider per bike allowed and no stops except for refuelling.
*Competitors had to wait until 1954 before they could count on a team-mate with a third rider not permitted until 1978.
*While the Bol d’Or celebrated turning 100 in 2022, the event was actually the 85th running and the 29th edition to take place at Circuit Paul Ricard.
*World War II, waning public interest and the COVID-19 pandemic respectively resulted in no Bol d’Or between 1940-46, 1961-68 and 2020.

BOL D’OR ESSENTIALS:
WHERE:
Circuit Paul Ricard, France
LOCATION: RDN8 - 2760 Route des Hauts du Camp 83330 Le Castellet, France
WHEN: 14-17 September 2023
TRACK LENGTH: 5.673 kilometres
RACE DISTANCE: 24 hours
QUALIFYING LAP RECORD:
BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team – Illya Mykhalchyk, 1m51.641s, 2022
RACE LAP RECORD:
ERC Endurance-Ducati – Xavi Forés, 1m52.979s, 2022

RECENT WINNERS:
2022:
Viltaïs Racing Igol (Florian Alt, Erwan Nigon, Steven Odendaal) 718 laps
2021: Yoshimura SERT Motul (Gregg Black, Xavier Siméon, Sylvain Guintoli) 704 laps
2019: Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Vincent Philippe, Étienne Masson, Gregg Black) 313 laps
2018: F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Freddy Foray, Josh Hook, Mike Di Meglio) 698 laps
2017: GMT94 Yamaha (David Checa, Niccolò Canepa, Mike Di Meglio) 683 laps

EXPERT VIEW BY FLORIAN MARINO, KM99
“This race is more tough for the bikes because we have such a long straight with full throttle, which is obviously not the best for the engine for 24 hours. After that it’s not such a difficult track, it’s a pretty flowing track but you need good references on the track to understand where to brake and also understand the mistral, as we say in France, the wind, which can adjust the braking points. If it’s dry we can manage but you need to understand how the wind can help you in some way and understand when you have to be careful and this is down to experience. I do some extra work in the gym to strengthen my neck because you can feel more tension on the neck with the long straight and the wind. But it’s quite a fun track with a lot of places to overtake which is good for the race.”

EWC PROVISIONAL STANDINGS (full standings at https://www.fimewc.com/standings)

2023 FIM ENDURANCE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FOR TEAMS
(AFTER ROUND 3 OF 4)
1: F.C.C. TSR Honda France, 138 points
2: Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team, 125
3: BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, 100
4: Yoshimura SERT Motul, 77
5: Team Kawasaki Webike Trickstar  , 65
6: Honda Viltaïs Racing, 64
7: TATI Team Beringer Racing, 46
8: ERC Endurance Ducati, 38
9: Team HRC with Japan Post, 35
10: Motobox Kremer Racing, 30

2023 FIM ENDURANCE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FOR MANUFACTURERS
(AFTER ROUND 3 OF 4)
1: Honda, 168 points
2: Yamaha, 110
3: BMW, 86
4: Kawasaki, 77
5: Suzuki, 73

2023 FIM ENDURANCE WORLD CUP FOR TEAMS
(AFTER ROUND 2 OF 3)
1: Chromeburner-RAC41-Honda, 85 points
2: Honda No Limits, 79
3: National Motos Honda, 77
4: Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team, 69
5: Team 33 Louit April Moto, 65
6: 3ART Best of Bike, 53
7: Wójcik Racing Team, 50
8: TRT27 Bazar 2 la Bécane, 49
9: Slider Endurance, 48
10: Junior Team LMS Suzuki , 25

2023 FIM ENDURANCE WORLD CUP FOR MANUFACTURERS
(AFTER ROUND 2 OF 3)
1: Honda, 120 points
2: Yamaha, 86
3: Kawasaki, 75
4: Suzuki, 70
5: BMW, 44

2023 EWC INDEPENDENT TROPHY
(AFTER ROUND 3 OF 4)
1: Honda Viltaïs Racing, 91 points
2: KM99, 61
3: Motobox Kremer Racing, 52
4: TATI Team Beringer Racing, 42
5: Honda No Limits, 41

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21 February 2024

Immersive film celebrates 120 years of FIM ahead of 2024 EWC season

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