Hanika leaves it late to top first EWC qualifying at Spa
Karel Hanika left it late to put YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC on top at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps following an action-packed First Qualifying for the 24H SPA EWC Motos.
The Bridgestone-equipped Czech had trailed Florian Marino (Webike SRC Kawasaki France) in the Red Ridersession but snatched first place among the third of four groups on his last lap by a margin of 0.492s around the 6.985-kilometre track, which is hosting the FIM Endurance World Championship for the first time since 2001 this weekend.
Hanika’s 2m20.253s eclipsed the fastest times posted in the earlier Blue and Yellow Rider sessions by Josh Hook and Illya Mykhalchyk and continues his strong qualifying form that was much in evidence at the EWC season-opening 24 Heures Motos, where he set a new qualifying lap record on his way to pole position.
BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team’s Markus Reiterberger set the early pace among the Blue Riders, slipped down the order before shooting back to the top of the times, ousting Josh Hook in the process. However, his best lap of 2m19.910s was struck from the records after he was adjudged to have exceeded track limits. That left Hook fastest for F.C.C. TSR Honda France in a time of 2m20.411s ahead of Yoshimura SERT Motul’s Gregg Black and YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC’s Niccolò Canepa. Randy de Puniet (Webike SRC Kawasaki France) and Xavi Forès (ERC Endurance-Ducati) were next. Hugo Clere (Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore) headed the Dunlop Superstock Trophy contenders followed by Sébastien Suchet (National Motos Honda).
While Reiterberger was penalised in the Blue Rider session, there were no such problems for Illya Mykhalchyk, who took over the #37 Dunlop-shod BMW M1000RR and went fastest among the Yellow Ridersin 2m20.388s. F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s new-for-2022 recruit Gino Rea was second quickest with Marvin Fritz (YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC) heading home hero Xavier Siméon (Yoshimura SERT Motul). Grégory Leblanc was fifth fastest for Tati Team Beringer Racing with Etienne Masson (Webike SRC Kawasaki France) sixth on another ZK 10R. Kevin Manfredi (Wójcik Racing Team STK 777) edged out Belgian rider Loris Cresson (BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers) for the fastest time among the Dunlop Superstock Trophy contenders. The session was red flagged to enable trackside safety barriers to be repaired after Martin Renaudin crashed 3ART Best of Bike Yamaha, albeit without injury.
Behind Hanika and Marino in the Red Rider session, Jérémy Guarnoni was third fastest for BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team followed by Sylvain Guintoli (Yoshimura SERT Motul) and Chaz Davies (ERC Endurance-Ducati) and Mike di Meglio (F.C.C. TSR Honda France). Corentin Perolari was seventh for Team Moto Ain as Wójcik Racing Team experienced mixed fortunes. While Mathieu Gines crashed his Formula EWC-specification Yamaha, Danny Webb topped the Dunlop Superstock Trophy runners ahead of Kevin Calia (Team 33 Louit April Moto) and RAC 41 ChromeBurner’s Chris Leesch.
Christian Iddon edged the battle of the reserves in the Green Rider session with a 2m21.774s best for Yoshimura SERT Motul. Kenny Forray (BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team), YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC’s Robin Mulhauser was third fastest followed by James Westmoreland (Viltaïs Racing Igol) and Balint Kovács, the quickest of the Dunlop Superstock Trophy contenders for Wójcik Racing Team STK 777 in fifth overall.
Second Qualifying is due to get underway at 11h25 CET tomorrow (Friday). Under new rules for this season the qualifying results are based on the average time of the fastest two riders from each team, rather than three previously.
Before Second Qualifying however, EWC riders will get their first taste of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps under the cover of darkness with Night Practice from 21h50.