Team SRC Kawasaki France seizes control
The first free practice session of the Bol d’Or on the new track at the Paul Ricard circuit gave rise to a full-out battle. Team SRC Kawasaki France gained the upper hand when Randy de Puniet set a new record with a 1:54.942 lap.
The first face-off between the 59 teams competing in the Bol d’Or (on a slightly damp track in the early part of the session) proved highly eventful. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team got off to a flying start, but Team SRC Kawasaki France and F.C.C. TSR Honda France soon caught up, with both teams setting their fastest lap. Team SRC Kawasaki France had the last word when Randy de Puniet completed a 1:54.942 lap.
YART Yamaha muscled its way into the fray as the session drew to a close, posting the second-quickest time thanks to Niccolò Canepa’s 1:55.182 lap. YART Yamaha beat F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s lap time of 1:56.327, posted by Josh Hook.
Another two factory teams made it into the Top 5: ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance and Honda Endurance Racing.
Kawasaki-mounted Bolliger Team Switzerland, the fastest privateer team, took 6th place ahead of Wepol Racing’s Yamaha and Suzuki Endurance Racing Team.
Team 33 Coyote Louit Moto (Kawasaki) and Moto Ain (Yamaha) are already neck and neck in the Superstock class. The two teams set the 9th and 10th-fastest times respectively.
Qualifying at the Bol d’Or starts at 3.40 this afternoon.
This morning’s free practice and the qualifying sessions this afternoon and tomorrow (Friday) will set new record times, as the track at the Paul Ricard circuit has undergone changes since last year’s race. Four of the corners have been modified: the track has been widened at the entry of La Verrerie, the Virage du Camp at the western end of the circuit and the Virage du Pont leading onto the start-finish straight, while the Virage de Bendor has been re-shaped and shortened, thereby reducing the overall track length for the Bol d’Or from 5,791m to 5,673m.