Event preview: The Bol is the goal for title-chasing EWC aces
The 2022 FIM World Endurance Championship is heading for an epic title decider at Circuit Paul Ricard next week (15-18 September), when the legendary Bol d’Or 24-hour race celebrates its 100th anniversary.
With the allocation of points multiplied by a factor of 1.5, as many as seven teams can be crowned FIM EWC world champion, while 12 outfits in the Superstock category still have a chance of claiming the FIM Endurance World Cup, such has been the wide-open competition in the EWC this season.
The Bol d’Or marks the fourth and final event of the EWC campaign and follows on from all-action 24-hour races at Le Mans and Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, plus last month’s eight-hour contest at Suzuka in Japan.
Broadcast live on television and online around the world, the Bol d’Or remains one of international motorcycle racing’s biggest and most prestigious events and thousands of fans will flock to Circuit Paul Ricard in southern France to watch 43, three-rider teams fight for glory – and the various title battles unfold.
Up for grabs are the FIM Endurance World Championship for Teams and Manufacturers, the FIM Endurance World Cup for Teams and Manufacturers, plus the EWC Independents’ Trophy for Formula EWC and Superstock squads competing without direct manufacturer support. Click HERE for the provisional standings.
Ten Bol d’Or winners are set to start this year’s event, including Italy’s Niccolò Canepa (YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC), Spaniard David Checa (ERC Endurance-Ducati), BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team rider Jérémy Guarnoni from France, Australian rider Josh Hook (F.C.C. TSR Honda France) and UK-born Frenchman Gregg Black (Yoshimura SERT Motul). Riders with MotoGP or Superbike World Championship experience include Chaz Davies, Randy de Puniet (Webike SRC Kawasaki France), Leon Haslam (TATI Team Beringer Racing) and Isaac Viñales (Moto Ain). The full provisional entry list is available HERE.
A packed timetable is in store for the EWC riders and their teams with practice and qualifying from Thursday 15 September ahead of the 85th Bol d’Or getting underway at 15h00 CET on Saturday 17 September.
Events to mark the Bol d’Or’s 100th anniversary will take place during the weekend, while a number of off-track attractions have been arranged for fans. Tickets are still on sale and more information is available by clicking HERE.
What? 100th-anniversary Bol d’Or
Round? FIM Endurance World Championship 2022, Round 4 of 4
When? 15-18 September
Where? Circuit Paul Ricard, France
Track length: 5.674 kilometres
Race starts: 15h00 CET, Saturday 18 September
EWC Qualifying best lap: Yoshimura SERT Motul (Xavier Siméon) 1m52.374s, 2021
EWC Race best lap: TATI Team Beringer Racing (Alan Techer) 1m53.707, 2021
Circuit Paul Ricard in 100 words: Variety is the name of the game at Circuit Paul Ricard, which features an incredible 167 configurations ranging from 826 to 5861 metres in length. A venue for bike and car races, Paul Ricard also hosts rallies on occasion. Opening for business in 1970, the track closed for extensive redevelopment in 1999 before reopening as the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track in 2002. Racing returned in 2009 and the Bol d’Or was back in 2015 following a lengthy stint at Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours. Paul Ricard had hosted the French Formula One Grand Prix 17 times prior to 2022.
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.
*Tony Zind from Switzerland was the first winner riding a Motosacoche. He covered nearly 1246 kilometres at an average speed of 51.9kph and ate and drank while competing.
*Zind carried the number 37 on his bike, the same number used by the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team in this year’s Bol d’Or.
*While the Bol d’Or is celebrating turning 100 in 2022, this year’s event is actually the 85th running and the 29th edition to take place at Circuit Paul Ricard.
2021: Yoshimura SERT Motul (Gregg Black, Xavier Siméon, Sylvani 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
2016: Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Anthony Delhalle, Vincent Philippe, Étienne Masson) 687 laps
WHAT’S NEW FOR EWC IN 2022?
A summary of some of the 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship changes appears below:
*Addition of 24H SPA EWC Motos to the calendar means there will be three 24-hour races in the same FIM Endurance World Championship season
*Dunlop Superstock Trophy recognises and rewards Superstock category competitors in the three 24-hour races as part of Dunlop’s single-supplier agreement
*Qualifying results are based on the average time of the fastest two riders (the results of the fourth rider are not taken into account)
*All riders per team must qualify within 108 per cent of the fastest team in each category
*Stäubli is the single supplier of the FIM homologated fuel quick-fill system for the FIM Endurance World Championship and World Cup from 2022 (transition year) to 2031. Although its use is not mandatory in 2022, the system is available for sale or rent to all the teams wishing to equip themselves and prepare for the mandatory use of the FIM homologated fuel quick-fill system from 2023
THE BIG NUMBER: 85
A maximum of 85 points are up for grabs in the FIM Endurance World Championship, which means seven teams will battle for the coveted title during the Bol d’Or.
RIDERS SAID WHAT?
Gregg Black, France (Yoshimura SERT Motul, Suzuki GSX-R1000R)
“The goal is to win the championship and we’ll score the points we need to score during the race. If we’re third in the race and that’s enough points to win the championship, we’ll finish third. If we need to finish second and we need to catch some guys in front, then we’ll push to win the championship. It just depends. We’re intelligent enough as riders and as a team to know how to manage the situation, we’ve managed it in the past. We just need to keep concentrating on our job. We were strong at Le Mans and we took that pace over to Spa and we showed we were competitive also in Suzuka and I’m sure we’ll be competitive at Paul Ricard. A top three finish is our main goal, if we can win the race without taking too many risks we’ll do that.”
David Checa, Spain (ERC Endurance-Ducati, Ducati Panigale)
“For me the podium is possible. We have a good pace, we find [things] are much better than before, the tyre works well so it’s possible. In endurance you never know what will happen but on the paper I’m optimistic for the podium. For sure this year was difficult. In Le Mans we have a little crash, in Spa we have problems, although it has been a good year but not for the results. For us, for Ducati and the team it will be good to make a good result because the team works well, they are motivated, they do everything to make a good result and for sure if I can do a top result it will be for them.”
Jérémy Guarnoni, France (BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, BMW M1000RR)
“Paul Ricard is my favourite track of the year and I really like to ride there because it’s really fast. For the bike it’s the most tough circuit because you have two kilometres straight at 220kph so during 24 hours it’s quite hard for the engines. If we can finish for BMW it will be really great and if we can win, and we have the possibility, it will be the top. We proved at Spa we can win but, at the end, we don’t do 24 hours, it was less than 22. But we hope to do 24 hours without interruption and we know we can finish. I win the Bol d’Or at Magny-Cours, but I never even finished the race at Paul Ricard so I hope it will be a good year. Not so many people know this but the first Bol d’Or 100 years ago was won by the number 37 bike so I hope 100 years later it will be us.”
Florian Marino, France (Webike SRC Kawasaki France, Kawasaki ZX-10R)
“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 feel ready for the race but I will 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.”
Erwan Nigon, France (Viltaïs Racing Igol, Yamaha YZF-R1)
“Bol d’Or is a race for the people, it’s something special and the weather is also special because it can be very hot and Paul Ricard is a very nice track. We are also very motivated for this race because it’s the last of the season and we are expecting the top five. Of course we need to improve the speed and reliability and stay focused for the race but we can do this as a team. Racing at Suzuka last month was good for my rhythm but it was not such an advantage for me against some of the other riders who did not do this race. It was a different bike, a different tyre and a different team and, of course, the track is completely different also.”
Alan Techer, France (F.C.C. TSR Honda France, Honda CBR 1000RR-R)
“I am very happy to be here with the F.C.C. TSR, with Honda France and my new team-mates. The testing went perfectly well. I’ve discovered some new people in the team since my last time here in 2018. I know Josh [Hook] well, I’m getting to know Mike [Di Meglio] and together we’ve really worked well to prepare for this last important race. I can’t wait for the 100th anniversary of the Bol d’Or.”
Key FIM EWC timings (all CET) are as follows:
Thursday 15 September:
08h50-10h50: Free Practice
14h50-15h10: First Qualifying (Blue Rider)
15h20-15h40: First Qualifying (Yellow Rider)
15h50-16h10: First Qualifying (Red Rider)
16h20-16h40: First Qualifying (Green Rider)
20h30-21h30: Night Practice
Friday 16 September:
09h55-10h15: Second Qualifying (Blue Rider)
10h25-10h45: Second Qualifying (Yellow Rider)
10h55-11h15: Second Qualifying (Red Rider)
11h25-11h45: Second Qualifying (Green Rider)
11h55 (approx.): Post-Qualifying press conference
Saturday 17 September:
15h00: Start of 100th-anniversary Bol d’Or
Sunday 18 September:
15h00: Finish of 100th-anniversary Bol d’Or
15h30 (approx.): Post-race press conference
LIVE TIMING AND RESULTS
EWC live timing:
FINAL ENTRY LIST
The final entry list will be published at FIMEWC.com shortly before the race. The provisional entry list is available by clicking HERE.