Event preview: The time is now as 2022 FIM EWC season is all set for Le Mans lift-off
Six months since the 2021 FIM Endurance World Championship finale was decided by 0.070 seconds, the ultimate test of rider and machine is back on track at Le Mans next week (14-17 April) for the 45th 24 Heures Motos.
The opening event of the 2022 EWC season is one of three day and night races on the calendar along with the returning 24H SPA EWC Motos at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and the centenary edition of the Bol d’Or at Circuit Paul Ricard in France.
Using the 4.185-kilometre Bugatti Circuit, the 24 Heures Motos promises to be an action-packed contest with a three-year-high 52-bike entry featuring 13 riders who have been part of FIM Endurance World Championship-winning line-ups.
What? 45th 24 Heures Motos, FIM Endurance World Championship 2022, Round 1
When? 14-17 April 2022
Where? Bugatti Circuit, Le Mans, France
Track length: 4.185 kilometres
Race starts: 15h00 CET, Saturday 16 April
EWC Qualifying best lap: Team SRC Kawasaki France (Randy de Puniet) 1m35.730s, 2017
EWC Race best lap: Team SRC Kawasaki France (Randy de Puniet) 1m36.408s, 2017
Open to fans once again after two years of COVID-19 restrictions, the 24 Heures Motos matches its four-wheeled equivalent for atmosphere, while winning carries the same kudos, as well as the crucial championship points.
Last year’s event, held in mid-June, ended with a home victory for the Yoshimura SERT Motul team, which is based a short distance from the Le Mans paddock and claimed the FIM Endurance World Championship crown at the end of the season.
Returning to its traditional April date will increase the challenge facing the riders, teams and tyre manufacturers, particularly due to the prospect of changeable weather, less daylight and the chance of colder ambient and ground temperatures.
Local hero Louis Rossi explained: “The weather is always the question. At Le Mans it can be good one day and the next it can be dramatic. You have to adapt in every situation and the night is a difficult moment because you have to adapt to the cold conditions. But this is the 24 hours and it’s part of this spectacular race.
“If it’s cold it’s very physical because you have a lot of tension and you are quite tired and you have to try to manage your brain and your body to be fit during all night. Then, after the sun starts to come up, you regain some energy to finish the race. But for sure the end of the night is every time a challenging moment.
“But it’s a mythical race, especially for me because I am born in Le Mans and I live in Le Mans so it’s a very special track for me. I like the atmosphere and for sure the comeback of the public is great for everybody. We can’t wait for the race to happen.”
24 HEURES MOTOS FAST FACTS
*The 2022 24 Heures Motos is the 45th edition of the event and the second year running as the FIM EWC season opener.
*Following two years without spectators due to COVID-19, fans are back for this season.
*The first 24 Heures Motos took place from 22-23 April 1978 with Jean-Claude Chemarin and Christian Léon riding a Honda to victory.
*It followed the Bol d’Or – the other French 24-hour classic bike race appearing on the EWC schedule – relocating to Circuit Paul Ricard after the 1977 event.
*After starting at 14h00 local time in 2020 and 2021, the 2022 edition of the 24 Heures Motos is set to be flagged-off at 15h00.
INTRODUCING THE DUNLOP SUPERSTOCK TROPHY
New for 2022, the Dunlop Superstock Trophy is a joint initiative from EWC promoter Discovery Sports Events, Dunlop and the promoters of the individual EWC races. It follows on from the appointment of Dunlop as the single tyre supplier to the Superstock (SST) category.
All teams are allocated the same number of tyres for each race and there are two choices of front compounds and two choices of rear compounds. A reward scheme exists with teams receiving free tyres based on their race result. For example, if a team is allocated 20 tyres and receives 15 tyres for winning the race, a bill for five tyres is issued.
David Chevallier, a contender for the Dunlop Superstock Trophy as part of the Falcon Racing team, said: “Obviously podium finishes for the whole season would be beautiful and we are allowed to dream. After all, with this team we are already in a dream and we can do beautiful things together.”
Dunlop Superstock Trophy competitors are eligible for the FIM Endurance World Cup, which is contested at the 24 Heures Motos, 24H SPA EWC Motos and Bol d’Or. The Dunlop Independent Trophy, last awarded in 2021, is no more although teams competing without the support of a bike manufacturer in either Formula EWC or Superstock can still chase their own Independent Trophy.
Dunlop Superstock Trophy teams (in competition number order):
Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore, Team 202, BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers, TRT27 Bazar 2 La Bécane, Team 33 Louit April Moto, JMA Racing – Action Bike, 3ART Best of Bike, RAC 41 ChromeBurner, No Limits Motor Team, National Motos, Players, OG Motorsport by Sarazin, Pitlane Endurance – JP3, Énergie Endurance 91, Team LH Racing, ADSS97, Aviobike, Falcon Racing, Wójcik Racing Team STK
Independent Trophy teams (in competition number order):
Tati Team Beringer Racing, Team Bolliger Switzerland, Maco Racing, Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore, Team 202, BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers, TRT27 Bazar 2 La Bécane, Team 33 Louit April Moto, JMA Racing – Action Bike, 3ART Best of Bike, RAC 41 ChromeBurner, No Limits Motor Team, National Motos, Players, Motobox Kremer Racing, OG Motorsport by Sarazin, Wójcik Racing Team, Pitlane Endurance – JP3, Team LRP Poland, Énergie Endurance 91, Team LH Racing, Moto Ain, ADSS97, Aviobike, Falcon Racing, Viltaïs Racing Igol, Wójcik Racing Team STK
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2022?
A summary of some of the changes to the 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship will be issued next week.
Bugatti Circuit in 100 words: The ACO held its first bike race in September 1912, long before the Bugatti Circuit’s inauguration in September 1966 with a track length of 4.422 kilometres. Using a portion of the Circuit de La Sarthe, including the famous start/finish straight, the Dunlop Esses and the Ford Chicane, plus a more twisty infield section, the first endurance race for motorbikes on the Bugatti Circuit took place in 1969, while the current track layout of 4.185 kilometres has been in use since 2008. As well as hosting the EWC, the Bugatti Circuit is home to the Grand Prix de France MotoGP event.
THE BIG NUMBER: 33
A total of 33 teams have registered for the 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship with 14 chasing success in the Formula EWC category and 19 going for gold in Superstock.
RIDERS SAID WHAT?
Florian Alt, Germany (Viltaïs Racing Igol, Yamaha YZF – R1)
“We have a new line-up for 2022 with my new team-mates Steven Odendaal, Erwan Nigon and James Westmoreland and I’m really happy to have them in the team. It looks like we are all quite good together and we all have a similar intention for the bike’s set-up and the team. The team worked hard during the winter to make the bike more comfortable and more rideable over the 24 hours. We are really calm, really focused and the tests were really positive.”
Gregg Black, France (Yoshimura SERT Motul, Suzuki GSXR – 1000)
“The first day [of the Pre-Test] went well, in dry conditions with sunshine. We were able to set good times in racing conditions. We are quite satisfied with the new settings and developments on the bike. It bodes well for the race. I had the only opportunity of the day to start on new tyres for a quick lap but I did a high-side between the Dunlop curve and the Chapelle corner. It was a pretty quick fall and then it started to rain. Having a little pain in my ankle I didn’t ride the second day to recover and be in shape for the race.”
Niccolò Canepa, Italy (YART Yamaha Official Team EWC, Yamaha YZF – R1)
“We said the target [on the first morning of the Pre-Test] was just to get the feeling back with the tyres and the bike but the lap times were really good and I was super-happy. The lap times were good for the confidence and I was smiling in the crash helmet when I saw the lap time. We have new Brembo brake calipers and a brake system. We also have some changes to the electronics so we can improve the lap times.”
David Checa, Spain (ERC Endurance-Ducati, Ducati Panigale V4R)
“For sure it’s a great opportunity for me to be with Ducati because it’s the brand my brother [Carlos] won his world title in Superbike. For me it would be great [to do the same] and I try to do my best. It’s a funny thing because my first year with Yamaha I was world champion and my first year with Kawasaki I was world champion so it would be nice to be world champion [in my first year] with Ducati. Maybe I’m dreaming but why not? The team has learned a lot already and I am happy to be part of this project. I will use all my experience on every single point to help bringing it further ahead. It’s new adventure with a special brand and I can’t wait.”
Jérémy Guarnoni, France (BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, BMW M1000RR)
“It was really two good days of testing because we got some dry action but also rode in the wet. So we could try the bike in absolutely all conditions and that is really important in view of a 24-hour race. The bike was good in the wet and we have a great pace also in the dry. We still have some work to do, especially to prepare for the fast lap time in qualifying where we still have a lot of potential. Overall, I am happy and the package of riders, team and motorcycle can fight for the win. We just need to work a little bit more during race week and try to do our best.”
Etienne Masson, France (Webike SRC Kawasaki France, Kawasaki ZX10RR)
“The main objective [of the Pre-Test was] to feel comfortable on the bike but also to discover the whole team. I have complete confidence in Gilles Stafler, who has extensive experience in endurance racing, and I know that the bike will be competitive from the outset. There are obviously areas to improve but I know that we will be ready for the 24 Heures Motos. The bike is very sound, which is extremely important for us riders because we need to have confidence in the bike and to be able to ride safely. I’m comfortable with it and I’m very happy with it. I know that we will fight for victory. All the riders are very experienced, ride very well and we are fairly consistent in our way of riding, which is a big plus for the performance of the machine.”
Gino Rea, Great Britain (F.C.C. TSR Honda France, Honda CBR1000RR-R)
“We did a lot of positive work [during the Pre-Test] on electronics, the chassis and tyre setting with different compounds for different conditions and got into work with the whole team. We are trying to do a consistent pace that is really good for us, and our race pace is very good. We are going in the right direction with the bike and looking forward to the race.”
2021: Yoshimura SERT Motul (Gregg Black, Xavier Siméon, Sylvain Guintoli) 855 laps
2020: F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Josh Hook, Freddy Foray, Mike De Meglio) 816 laps
2019: Team SRC Kawasaki France (Jérémy Guarnoni, David Checa, Erwan Nigon) 839 laps
2018: F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Josh Hook, Freddy Foray, Alan Techer) 843 laps
2017: GMT94 Yamaha (Mike Di Meglio, David Checa, Niccolò Canepa) 860 laps
Key FIM EWC timings are as follows:
Thursday 14 April:
09h45-11h45: Free Practice
16h00-16h20: First Qualifying (Blue Rider)
16h30-16h50: First Qualifying (Yellow Rider)
17h00-17h20: First Qualifying (Red Rider)
17h30-17h50: First Qualifying (Green Rider)
20h30-22h00: Night Practice
Friday 15 April:
10h20-10h40: Second Qualifying (Blue Rider)
10h50-11h10: Second Qualifying (Yellow Rider)
11h20-11h40: Second Qualifying (Red Rider)
11h50-12h10: Second Qualifying (Green Rider)
12h45: Post-Qualifying digital press conference
Saturday 16 April:
15h00: Start of 45th 24 Heures Motos
Sunday 17 April:
15h00: Finish of 45th 24 Heures Motos
15h30: Post-race digital press conference
FINAL ENTRY LIST
The final entry list plus details of the 33 permanent FIM EWC teams for 2022 will be online soon at FIMEWC.com.