New season set to kick off with the Bol d’Or
The 2016/2017 season of the FIM EWC has already begun. Several of the teams have been testing on the Paul Ricard circuit in Castellet, which will host the Bol d’Or – the first round of the new season – on 17 and 18 September.
The two-day tests gave a few of the top teams a chance to hone their strategy in preparation for the Bol d’Or, the opening round of the FIM EWC 2016/2017 season in 15 days’ time. GMT94 Yamaha put in the fastest lap, a 1’59.360, but it looked like the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team bike – on track but not fitted with a transponder – was delivering similar lap times. Another factory-backed team without a transponder, Honda Endurance Racing, used the two days of testing to assess some new parts including fairings and swingarms.
The pre-season tests also gave new entry Eva RT Trick Star an opportunity to get to grips with the Castellet circuit. Riders Erwan Nigon and Osamu Deguchi put in nifty laps of 1’59.587 and 2’00.877 respectively. The Japanese team, which has signed up for the full FIM EWC 2016/2017 championship, will be among the favourites to win.
Team Tecmas Endurance was another of the fastest squads on track in the pre-season tests. Louis Rossi – back in endurance after his short spell with GMT94 in the early part of the 2016 season – posted a best time of 2’00.874 on the team’s BMW mount.
Another noteworthy performance came from Moto Ain’s Superstock Yamaha, with Hugo Clere clocking a quick 2’01.806. The team is also looking to hire Moto3 rider Alexis Masbou, who dipped his toe into endurance at the 2011 Bol d’Or as a stand-in rider for Junior Team Le Mans Sud Suzuki.
There will also be an all-female team in the fray at the Bol d’Or. Girls Racing Team, composed of Frenchwomen Muriel Simorre and Carole Goncalves, Dutch rider Jolanda Van Westrenen and the American rider Melissa Paris, posted a fastest time of 2’07.685 at the Castellet pre-tests.
The first official free practice session on the Paul Ricard circuit starts at 9.30 am on Thursday 15 September at the Bol d’Or – the first round of the new FIM EWC 2016/2017 season.