Suzuki Endurance Racing Team win Bol d’Or
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team tasted victory once again, crossing the finish line of the Bol d’Or one lap ahead of the Yamaha-mounted Polish squad Wójcik Racing Team and Germany’s BMW-mounted Team ERC Endurance. Moto Ain took the Superstock win at the end of an action-packed race.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team won the Bol d’Or for the 17th time with riders Vincent Philippe (for whom this is both his 9th Bol d’Or win and his last time competing in the race), Etienne Masson and Gregg Black. Most importantly, the factory-backed Suzuki once again tasted victory – their first in the World Championship since their 2016 Bol d’Or win with Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Etienne Masson. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team have started the 2019-2020 FIM EWC in style, going to the top of the standings with 59 points.
Damien Saulnier, SERT’s new team manager, was awarded the Anthony Dehalle EWC Spirit Trophy as a tribute to his combative style, both in this race and since his arrival at the helm of Suzuki Endurance Racing Team this past summer.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team finished ahead of an unexpected challenger – Wójcik Racing Team. The Yamaha-mounted Polish team led throughout the early stages of the race in the rain with riders Gino Rea, Christoffer Bergman and Axel Maurin, and subsequently held back their rivals.
A fratricidal duel between two BMWs unfolded in the final stages of the race, with Team ERC Endurance (Mathieu Gines, Julien da Costa and Louis Rossi) facing off against BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team (Ilya Mikhalchik, Julian Puffe and Kenny Foray). In the end, Team ERC Endurance won the day, crossing the chequered flag with a 4-second lead on the factory BMW squad, who were making their Endurance World Championship debut.
Two Yamahas performed magnificently in the final laps. Having started from 23rd position, Omega Maco Racing Team (Pawel Szkopek, Bjorn Estment and Karel Hanika) were 5th past the finish line, ahead of VRD Igol Pierret Experiences (Florian Alt, Florian Marino and Ricardo Brink).
Moto Ain triumph in Superstock
Moto Ain ran a near-flawless race. The Yamaha-mounted team finished 7th to take the Superstock win, pocketing the 40 points awarded for the victory in this class as well as the 10 points awarded at each of the two intermediate stages of the race, plus 4 bonus points for being the 2nd Superstock on the starting grid. Their only rivals were Team 33 Coyote Louit Moto, who started from pole but fell to the bottom of the rankings after a crash.
BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers (Kawasaki) finished 10th overall and 2nd in the Superstock class with riders Anthony Loiseau, Jonathan Hardt and Julien Pilot. Suzuki-mounted Motors Events (James Westmoreland, Johan Nigon and Florent Tourné) wrested 3rd place in Superstock from Wójcik Racing Team 2.
An edition to remember
The 83rd Bol d’Or will go down in the history books as a highly unusual race. As in 1988 and 1996 on the Paul Ricard circuit, the weather conditions, with heavy rainfall, forced the race to be interrupted from 6pm on Saturday to 6am on Sunday.
Three hours after the race had resumed on a quickly drying track, the leader F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s engine failure totally shook up the positions in the lead. Loris Baz in the saddle of the YART Yamaha bike and Webike SRC Kawasaki France’s Erwan Nigon, both hot on the Honda’s heels, were caught unawares by an oil spill. The riders’ minor crashes forced the two factory teams to withdraw, as their bikes had caught fire.
The exit of these factory teams opened the way for Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, who took the lead and managed to create and keep a gap to their rivals. Their toughest competition came from the Polish squad Wójcik Racing Team.
Fans brave bad weather
62,000 spectators turned out to watch the 2019 edition of the Bol d’Or despite the adverse weather conditions.
The next race on the 2019-2020 FIM Endurance World Championship calendar is the 8 Hours of Sepang, a new race to be held in Malaysia on Saturday 14 December as part of a double-header car/motorcycle event featuring the FIM EWC and the FIA WTCR/Oscaro.