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Remembering when… Viltaïs Racing took dramatic Bol d’Or centenary win in EWC thriller

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Remembering when… Viltaïs Racing took dramatic Bol d’Or centenary win in EWC thriller Remembering when… Viltaïs Racing took dramatic Bol d’Or centenary win in EWC thriller

03 September 2023

Viltaïs Racing Igol won big by winning the 100th-anniversary Bol d’Or on 18 September 2022 but F.C.C. TSR Honda France won bigger still by claiming FIM Endurance World Championship title glory after 24 arduous hours of racing at Circuit Paul Ricard.

F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s success followed a race of high drama and high attrition in the southern French sunshine and came at the completion of another action-packed EWC season, which also featured 24-hour races at Le Mans and Spa-Francorchamps, plus a return to Japan for the Suzuka 8 Hours.

In front of packed grandstands, Viltaïs Racing Igol’s maiden EWC victory was dramatic and somewhat unexpected in equal measure but was nevertheless fitting reward for Team Manager Yannick Lucot’s tireless efforts behind the scenes, an impressive display from riding trio Florian Alt (Germany), Erwan Nigon (France) and Steven Odendaal (South Africa), plus important contributions from reserve rider James Westmoreland (Great Britain).

Viltaïs Racing Igol’s Bol d’Or victory meant the four race wins up for grabs in the 2022 EWC were claimed by four different teams, such was the wide-open nature of the championship last year. And to underline its competitiveness, both the EWC qualifying and race lap records at Circuit Paul Ricard were broken by Illya Mykhalchyk (1m51.641s) and Xavi Forés (1m52.979s) respectively.

Late Bol d’Or heartbreak for EWC aces
Up until the final 90 minutes of the Bol d’Or, long-term leader ERC Endurance-Ducati was seemingly on course for victory only to stop with a mechanical failure while comfortably in front. That left Wójcik Racing Team at the head of the pack. But in another late twist, the Polish squad’s Yamaha slowed, forcing Mathieu Gines to push the bike to the pitlane for repairs.

When Dan Linfoot eventually returned the #77 machine to the track, more than five minutes had been lost along with hopes of victory for Gines, Linfoot and Sheridan Morais as France-based Viltaïs Racing Igol, another Yamaha privateer, swept into a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. 

Meanwhile, Wójcik Racing Team’s eventual second place represented its best finish of the season with Webike SRC Kawasaki France third in what was Gilles Stafler’s final EWC race as team boss. Webike SRC Kawasaki France had also failed to land a podium in 2022 prior to the Bol d’Or and actually led for a time before dropping back with an engine wiring issue ahead of its charging climb back up the order.

For ERC Endurance-Ducati riders David Checa and Xavi Forés, their late heartbreak was hard to take after they’d shared riding duties for a large part of the race due to Chaz Davies hurting his back and being unable to continue. Despite the highly emotional scenes in the team garage as a near-certain victory slipped away, Checa regained his composure to return to the action for the last hour following rapid repairs by his German outfit. He took fifth behind the F.C.C. TSR Honda France team, which also made another unscheduled pitstop in the closing two hours having been delayed earlier in the race. 

MACO Racing finished a strong sixth, Team Bolliger Switzerland was the next best Formula EWC squad in ninth overall despite Nico Thöni crashing two corners into the race. Team LRP Poland was two places further back, while Motobox Kremer Racing was next up in the headlining category followed by Japanese newcomer TONE RT Syncedge 4413 BMW. 

TATI Team Beringer Racing was leading and in contention for the EWC title when it stopped with a technical issue on Sunday morning, much to the disappointment of the French team and its riders Leon Haslam, Grégory Leblanc and Bastien Mackels. 

Fores’ sensational slipstream overtake an early Bol d’Or 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.

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21 February 2024

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

Marking its 120th anniversary in 2024, Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) has released a unique film documenting its 12 decades in existence and its ground-breaking advances in the world of motorcycling.They extend far beyond competition into areas as diverse as safety, technology, the environment, sustainability and inclusivity, according to the FIM Endurance World Championship’s governing body.Presented by Swiss actress and model Lauriane Gilliéron who wears period-appropriate clothes in each of the six scenes, FIM 120 Years was premiered at the weekend’s 2024 FIM Commissions Conference in Lyon, France, to rapturous audience applause. Illustrated with superb period photographs and rare vintage video, in a little more than eight minutes it documents 120 of progress, achievements and passion.Click HERE for more information and click HERE to watch FIM 120 Years.

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