Two days of testing at the Paul Ricard circuit today (Tuesday) and tomorrow have set the ball rolling for the new FIM EWC season. YART Yamaha set the pace on the opening day today, with a 1:55.220 fastest lap. The factory-backed Austrian team, which has just confirmed its new line-up (Broc Parkes, Marvin Fritz and Niccolò Canepa), bolstered its status as the favourite, ahead of Team SRC Kawasaki France’s 1:55.746 lap. The French factory team is back among the championship’s full-season squads with a Bol d’Or line-up comprising Jeremy Guarnoni, David Checa and Randy de Puniet. Being a 24-hour race specialist, Team SRC Kawasaki France is a strong contender for the win.
A new factory team has joined the ranks of the favourites. ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance (formerly NRT48) now has official backing from the German brand, and the BMW #6 with Kenny Foray, Julien Da Costa and Mathieu Gines in the saddle will definitely be worth watching. The team posted the 3rd-fastest time of the day today, a 1:56.374.
With a 1:56.828 lap, Bolliger Team Switzerland was the quickest of the privateer teams on the first day of tests at Castellet. Roman Stamm and Sébastien Suchet rode the Swiss team’s Kawasaki together with Jonathan Hugot, who takes over from Robin Mulhauser, recently recruited by Moto Ain ECS.
Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences, on the point of moving up into the EWC class, is already well placed. The Yamaha #333 posted the 5th-fastest lap of the day, a 1:56.975, with riders Florian Alt, Axel Maurin, Alan Techer and Vincent Lonbois.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team were missing from the Top 5. As usual the factory Suzuki team chose not to use a transponder. “We’re working on our race setup, and things are moving in the right direction,” the Suzuki team insist. “We reckon we’re in the top 5, lap time-wise.”
There will be a second day of tests starting at 9am tomorrow (Wednesday).
The Top 5 lap times of the day
YART Yamaha – 1:55.220
Team SRC Kawasaki France – 1:55.746
ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance – 1:56.374
Bolliger Team Switzerland – 1:56.828
Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences – 1:56.975