GMT94 Yamaha wins epic victory at the Bol d’Or
Reigning champion GMT94 Yamaha has won the Bol d’Or for the first time since 2007. The French factory-backed team clinched the victory ahead of Wepol BMW Motorrad Team by Penz13 and Honda Endurance Racing. The latter two teams staged a historic finish, with a duel between Sébastien Gimbert and female rider Lucy Glöckner of Völpker NRT48 Schubert Motors by ERC.
The 81st Bol d’Or will go down in history as the only EWC race in which a female rider waged an unstinting battle for a podium spot with a factory-backed rider. Lucy Glöckner, 27, a familiar face on the IDM (German Superbike championship) circuit, went all out to stop Honda Endurance Racing getting on the podium at the Bol d’Or. 673 laps into the race, Sébastien Gimbert wrested the third place after a suspenseful duel a few minutes from the finish, passing the chequered flag less than a second ahead of Lucy Glöckner.
GMT94 Yamaha gets all the spoils
The other headline event of the opening round of the FIM EWC was that the reigning FIM EWC champion started the new season by sweeping to victory. GMT94 Yamaha combined the bonus points awarded at the 8-hour and 16-mark (20 points in all) with the 40 points allocated to the race winner, zooming to the top of the 2017-2018 FIM EWC standings. GMT94 Yamaha’s riders David Checa, Niccolò Canepa and Mike Di Meglio were in the lead practically throughout, and finished 9 laps ahead of the competition despite running out of fuel at one point.
Wepol BMW Motorrad Team by Penz13 got on the second step of the podium after an epic race. Having dropped to the bottom of the standings after a problematic refuelling stop, Markus Reiterberger, Alessandro Polita and Danny Webb climbed back up at speed to ease into the Top 5.
Edge-of-seat fight for the 3rd step of the podium
So Honda Endurance Racing had to fight hard to score third spot on the podium at the tail end of the race. Electronic issues and a faulty alternator had slowed down Grégory Leblanc, Sébastien Gimbert and Yonny Hernández. Völpker NRT48 Schubert Motors by ERC, the team comprising Lucy Glockner, Stefan Kerschbaumer and Jan Bühn, finished 4th, missing the podium by a hair’s breadth.
Another S1000RR was in 5th place: IV Racing BMW CSEU’s bike, with riders Karel Hanika, Fabrizio Lai and Julian Mayer.
F.C.C. TSR Honda France and SERT make a fine showing
F.C.C. TSR Honda France started from 3rd position on the grid and wrested the lead from GMT Yamaha on Sunday morning. But at around 11am, a crash dashed the hopes of victory of the Japanese team backed by Bridgestone (and, as of this weekend, by Honda France). Josh Hook, Alan Techer and Freddy Foray finished 6th.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team was back in top form on the new GSX-R 1000. However, this being the machine’s debut run in a 24-hour race, several mechanical and electronic issues cropped up. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team finished 7th.
A Superstock in 8th place
The fastest Superstock squad, Tati Team Beaujolais Racing, picked up a superb 8th place, with riders Julien Enjolras, Julien Pilot and Kevin Denis running a flawless race. 9th past the finish line (2nd in the Superstock class), Team 33 Accessoires Louit Moto (Kawasaki) was three laps behind Tati Team Beaujolais Racing. After a smooth climb back up into the Top 10, Junior Team Le Mans Sud Suzuki was the 3rd Superstock team at the race finish.
29 machines at the finish
This edition of the Bol d’Or proved particularly gruelling for both the riders and the machines. Only 29 of the 59 competing teams made it past the chequered flag. More than one team in the lead was forced to withdraw early on in the race. After taking the lead for Kawasaki SRC, Randy de Puniet rode long enough to post the fastest lap of the race (a 1’58.386) before returning to the pits with a broken engine on the ZX 10R #11.
Other favourites too were forced to throw in the towel. YART Yamaha withdrew around 9pm after sliding down to the tail end of the standings following Kohta Nozane’s crash. Team Tecmas BMW featured in the leading pack for quite some time, then had to abandon the track during the night with a broken engine. Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers was the first to withdraw, 10 laps into the race, with a broken engine. Maco Racing also gave up after the first quarter of the race, followed by multiple withdrawals as the night wore on. Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences, Moto Ain CRT and RAC41 Honda crashed out; Ecurie Chrono Sport, WSB Endurance and Atomic Motosport had engine breakdowns, and Team April Moto Motors Events had electrical and electronic issues.
68,000 spectators watched the 81st edition of the Bol d’Or on the Castellet circuit: a 5% increase over last year.