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Mighty Mistral to test EWC riders and their bikes

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Mighty Mistral to test EWC riders and their bikesMighty Mistral to test EWC riders and their bikes

13 September 2023

Having celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2022, this year’s Bol d’Or, the deciding round of the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship, is the 30th to take place at Circuit Paul Ricard. 

While it’s the third longest track on the calendar behind Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and Suzuka 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.

“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,” said Frenchman Florian Marino, part of the Yamaha-powered KM99 line-up and a Bol d’Or podium finisher last season. “After that it’s not such a difficult track but you need good references on the track to understand where to brake and also to understand the mistral, as we say in France, or 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.”

His Belgian KM99 team-mate Bastien Mackels said: “You have to stay really focused on the RPM, try to get the best of the engine but not too much. Lap after lap, hour after hour you try to save a little bit the engine because it’s really important to keep the bike safe to the end.”

Florian Alt, part of the Viltaïs Racing entry that won the Bol d’Or last year, is braced for a tough race aboard the #333 Honda, which the German shares with South African Steven Odendaal and Argentine Bol d’Or rookie Leandro Mercado.

“For the technic it’s really demanding because you have 16 or 17 seconds of full gas from the engine,” Alt said. “But for the rider it’s some time to rest and take a breath and you can concentrate on some other things like you can check the temperature.”

Yoshimura SERT Suzuki’s Étienne Masson said: “It’s demanding a lot of power and a strong engine because you are full gas maybe for 20 seconds and you can win a lot of time.”

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team’s Karel Hanika said: “We need to set up the bike so we don’t stress so much [the engine] on a 20-second, sixth-gear straight.”

Team Kawasaki Webike Trickstar rider Randy de Puniet added: “The Mistral Straight is an easy place to overtake. You can take a slipstream and you can win in this straight, maybe six or seven tenths if you have a good bike.”

Fores’ sensational slipstream overtake an early Bol d’Or 2022 highlight
The opening laps of the 100th-anniversary Bol d’Or delivered more classic FIM Endurance World Championship action with Gregg Black, Mike Di Meglio, Xavi Forés and Markus Reiterberger all taking their turn to lead the EWC season decider. But it was Forés who pulled off the most spectacular pass, overtaking his three rivals on a sensational slipstream move on the Mistral Straight. Click HERE to relive the moment.

The 86th Bol d'Or 24-hour race takes place from 14-17 September at Circuit Paul Ricard in southern France. The link below provides details of how to follow the action: https://www.fimewc.com/where-to-watch

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