SRC Kawasaki on pole at Le Mans
Team SRC Kawasaki will start from pole position tomorrow (Saturday) at the 24 Heures Motos, ahead of YART Yamaha and BMW-mounted team NRT48. Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences holds on to the lead in the Superstock class, ahead of Team 33 Accessoires Louit Moto and Moto Ain.
Team SRC Kawasaki has picked up pole position at the 41st edition of the 24 Heures Motos, to be flagged off at 3pm tomorrow (Saturday) on the Bugatti circuit in Le Mans. After topping qualifying yesterday, the factory-backed Kawasaki team further improved its performance at the second qualifying session. Julien Da Costa and Freddy Foray were quicker than Randy de Puniet yesterday, but this morning de Puniet wrested back control, clocking the fastest overall qualifying lap (1’36.446). His teammates Mathieu Gines and Jérémy Guarnoni also improved on their best times, even though Guarnoni took two spills towards the tail end of the session.
YART Yamaha picked up 2nd place on the grid. Following a lacklustre first qualifying, the Austrian factory team made a substantial improvement today. Broc Parkes and Marvin Fritz were the only two riders apart from Randy de Puniet to come in under the 1’37 mark. YART Yamaha’s young new Japanese rider Takuya Fujita also shaved nearly 1.5s off his best lap as compared to yesterday.
As a result, YART Yamaha beat factory BMW team NRT48 – which offers fresh proof of its potential each time its riders take to the track – to second spot on the grid. Kenny Foray, Peter Hickman and Lucy Glöckner were all within the same second on their lap. They are definitely serious contenders for the win – and if they did win it would go down in the annals of the championship, as a BMW has never won the 24 Heures Motos.
Other BMWs giving chase
Reigning world champion GMT94 Yamaha is 4th on the grid, just ahead of Suzuki Endurance Racing Team and two CBR1000RR-mounted teams: F.C.C. TSR Honda France and Honda Endurance Racing. But another three BMWs are among the Top 10 on the grid and poised to give chase. Team Tecmas BMW placed ahead of Wepol Racing by Penz13 and Mercury Racing. All three squads are made up of fast, experienced riders who will be targeting the podium, like Wepol Racing by Penz13 at the Bol d’Or last September.
Superstock battle in the offing
Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences, the winner of last season’s Superstock World Cup, leads the category on the starting grid, ahead of Team 33 Accessoires Louit Moto and Moto Ain. The three teams confirmed their status as favourites but will nevertheless have to reckon with 3ART Moto Team 95, Tati Team Beaujolais Racing and Junior Team Le Mans Sud Suzuki.
Tyres could determine the outcome
The tyre manufacturers too are locked in battle. The Top 3 on the grid features two Pirelli-shod teams (SRC Kawasaki and NRT48) and one using Bridgestone tyres (YART Yamaha), ahead of a Dunlop-shod group comprising GMT94 Yamaha, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team and Honda Endurance Racing. Once again, the tyres will be a significant factor in determining who gets the win.
The 60 teams competing in the 2nd round of the FIM EWC will be on the track at 10.25am tomorrow (Saturday) for the warm-up. The 24 Heures Motos will be flagged off at 3pm.