The new face of the EWC
The new FIM EWC season has just got off to a start at Castellet with the Bol d’Or pre-tests on 29 and 30 August. This initial set of tests before the opening round of the FIM EWC on the Paul Ricard circuit on 16 and 17 September offers early insights into the major changes in the new 2017-2018 season.
Cruising on the past season’s momentum, Yamaha has left its line-up unchanged at both GMT94 Yamaha (the reigning world champion with riders David Checa, Niccolò Canepa and Mike Di Meglio) and YART Yamaha Official EWC Team (Broc Parkes, Marvin Fritz and Kohta Nozane), but there have been some transformations concerning the competition.
Front-runner Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, with 15 world titles to its credit, is finally entering the new GSX-R 1000. The beaming face of the French factory-backed Suzuki team’s stalwart Vincent Philippe when he got off the new machine spoke volumes about its performance. According to his teammate Etienne Masson, the quality of their 2017 bike’s chassis and engine will give the team a fighting chance at reconquering the title. Another change at SERT is the arrival of Gregg Black following some noteworthy performances these past few seasons with Team April Moto Motors Events and then with F.C.C. TSR Honda. As a result, the Japanese team has also rejigged its line-up, which now features Australian rider Josh Hook, the 3rd-place winner at the Suzuka 8 Hours, and Frenchmen Alan Techer and Freddy Foray (previously with Honda Endurance Racing).
British squad Honda Endurance Racing backed by Honda Europe has therefore also gone through a shake-up. Sébastien Gimbert will be riding for them this season with Gregory Leblanc, who had switched to Team April Moto Motors Events after several years wearing the Kawasaki SRC colours, and MotoGP and Moto2 rider Yonny Hernandez, who is making his Endurance debut. Also on the Honda front, Baptiste Guittet has joined Team April Motos Motors Events alongside Matthieu Lagrive and Grégory Fastré.
Bolliger Team Switzerland will also have a new make-up. Roman Stamm, the mainstay of this private Kawasaki-mounted Swiss team, will be riding this season alongside David Perret and FIM Supersport world championship rider Robin Mulhauser. And Ecurie Chrono Sport has showed renewed ambition by hiring Louis Rossi, who joined the private French team at the tail end of the past season. A former Moto2 rider, Louis Rossi will team up with two former Moto3 riders, Alexis Masbou and Matteo Ferrari – the latter also rides the Italian Superbike championship.
The first official Bol d’Or 2017 tests will be held on Thursday 14 September on the Paul Ricard circuit.
The 12 best lap times on Bol d’Or pre-tests (unofficial)
(Suzuki Endurance Racing Team without transponder)
|Team SRC Kawasaki||1’58.350|
|F.C.C. TSR Honda||1’58.563|
|Honda Endurance Racing||1’58.827|
|Team Tecmas BMW||1’59.564|
|Yamaha Viltais Experiences||2’00.449|
|Team 33 Louit Moto||2’00.971|
|Bolliger Team Kawasaki||2’01.324|
|Ecurie Chrono Sport 69||2’01.357|
|BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers||2’01.543|
|Tati Team Beaujolais Racing||2’01.564|