GMT94 carries off a brilliant win against YART and SRC
GMT Yamaha won the 24 Heures Motos after a relentless battle against YART Yamaha Official EWC Team. Team SRC Kawasaki rounded off a podium with three tyre manufacturers represented: Dunlop, Bridgestone and Pirelli. 74,500 spectators watched the suspenseful race on the Bugatti circuit.
GMT94 Yamaha pulled off an exceptional performance after wresting the lead in the race at 11am today. David Checa, Niccolò Canepa and Mike Di Meglio completed 860 laps, finishing with a less-than-20s lead over Broc Parkes, Marvin Fritz and Kohta Nozane for the YART Yamaha Official EWC Team. Yamaha last won at Le Mans in 2009 with YART, and in 2005 with GMT94.
This 40th edition of the 24 Heures Motos will be remembered for the amazing performance and endurance of the two factory-backed Yamaha squads, who dominated the proceedings for nearly the entire duration of the race. After a lengthy spell in the lead, YART Yamaha Official EWC Team gave in to insistent pressure from GMT94 Yamaha in the late stages of the race.
Their unstinting battle enabled the two teams to finish 12 laps ahead of Team SRC Kawasaki, who placed 3rd at this edition of the 24 Heures Motos, with Randy de Puniet, Fabien Foret and Mathieu Gines in the saddle. After being slowed down by a crash and a few technical issues, SRC Kawasaki finished with a narrow 45-second lead over Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Alex Cudlin), also slowed by crashes. SERT, the winner of the Bol d’Or, the first round of the FIM EWC 2016-2017, still tops the world championship standings ahead of Team SRC Kawasaki and GMT94 Yamaha.
F.C.C. TSR Honda ran a flawless race and finished 5th. Though the excellent performance of riders Gregg Black, Damian Cudlin and Arturo Tizon was somewhat overshadowed by the front-end duels, it enables the squad to remain in the running for the title as current 4th place holder in the overall standings.
Tati Team Beaujolais Racing the winner in Superstock
With a 6th place finish, Tati Team Beaujolais Racing was the top Superstock. Julien Enjolras, Dylan Buisson and Kevin Denis ran a faultless race on their Kawasaki ZX-10R. They also won the EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy, which netted them a €5,000 prize. With a 7th place finish, the 2nd Superstock, Moto Ain CRT, won the EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy runner-up prize. After leading the category for a good portion of the race, Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences lost ground because of an oil leak problem and finished 3rd Superstock and 9th overall behind Maco Racing Team. Another Superstock team, AM Moto Racing, rounded off the Top 10.
Handicapped from the start by a chain problem, Honda Endurance Racing finished 11th, ahead of Japanese team Eva RT Webike Trick Star. Another favourite, Tecmas BMW, also had a rocky time of it, and finished 28th.
A record-breaking edition
The 40th edition of the race in the presence of Susumu Yamashita, Chairman of Mobilityland and owner of the Suzuka circuit, saw a few records smashed. Randy de Puniet broke the lap record with a 1’36.408 lap. The race also witnessed a new record distance of 860 laps in 24 hours, and the narrowest gap of its history at the finish (19s 819): proof of the sheer intensity of Endurance racing.
The frenzied pace was hard on riders and bikes alike, and quite a few threw in the towel. After an excellent start in the Top 10, Bolliger Team Switzerland dropped back, then withdrew altogether with an electronics problem on Sunday morning, while Team April Moto Motors Events quit the race in the early evening of Saturday when the gearbox on its Honda CBR1000RR broke.
Mechanical breakdowns also forced EVO IVRacing BMW CSEU, WSB Endurance, Ecurie Chrono Sport and Starteam 67 to withdraw.
Next FIM EWC race: the 8 Hours of Oschersleben on 20 May.