Thrilling race throws championship wide open
The 2019 edition of the 24 Heures Motos was a gripping race, leading to a shake-up in the standings and a reshuffle of the contenders for the 2018-2019 FIM EWC title. Team SRC Kawasaki France have taken over the top spot, ahead of Suzuki Endurance Racing Team and Wepol Racing.
Team SRC Kawasaki France were the big winners at the 24 Heures Motos. Not only did they win the race, but their heroic performance on the track took them to the top of the FIM Endurance World Championship provisional standings with a 16-point lead over Suzuki Endurance Racing Team.
In the saddle of Team SRC Kawasaki France’s ZX-10R, riders Jérémy Guarnoni, David Checa and Erwan Nigon practically swept the board, scooping 62 of the 65 winnable points. The team pocketed the 40 points on offer for the winner at Le Mans as well as the 10 bonus points awarded to the race leader at the 8-hour and 16-hour mark respectively, plus 2 extra points for being 4th on the starting grid. As a result, the factory Kawasaki team jumped from 5th place to the top of the provisional world standings as of 3pm this past Sunday.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team are second in the standings, 16 points from the leader, after finishing 3rd at the 24 Heures Motos. Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Gregg Black were quick to surge into the front ranks of the race, even taking over the lead at one point during the night.
Wepol Racing proved their Yamaha is the fastest of the line-up. Following their 3rd-place finish at the Bol d’Or and 4th place at the 24 Heures Motos, the German team (Sheridan Morais, Daniel Webb and Michael Laverty) consolidated their 3rd place in the world standings with 80 points.
Kawasaki-mounted Bolliger Team Switzerland’s Roman Stamm, Sébastien Suchet and Nigel Walraven have shown unwavering determination this season, finishing 4th at the Bol d’Or and 5th at the 24 Heures Motos to climb to 4th place in the provisional standings.
Honda Endurance Racing have pulled off the most spectacular climb, shooting from 14th to 5th in the overall standings. Randy de Puniet, Yonny Hernández and Sébastien Gimbert were the other heroes of the 2019 race at Le Mans. The British team’s duel with Team SRC Kawasaki France was the most gripping part of the 24 Heures Motos. Honda Endurance Racing’s 2nd-place finish saw them surging back into the quest for the world title after their withdrawal from the Bol d’Or.
Favourites in tough spot
Reigning champions F.C.C. TSR Honda France, who got to Le Mans at the top of the world standings after their Bol d’Or win, lost a big chunk of points at Le Mans. Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Mike Di Meglio finished 35th at the 24 Heures Motos with a bike damaged by two crashes. The Japanese team have slipped to 6th place in the provisional world standings, 48 points behind the leader.
The race was a letdown for YART Yamaha and ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance too. Austrian team YART Yamaha were forced to withdraw as a result of engine failure, but still notched up 11 points for being in 2nd place on the starting grid and in 4th place 8 hours into the race. ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance threw in the towel after engine problems following a crash. The German team, who started from pole (5 points) also scored 5 bonus points for being 6th at the 8-hour mark, but are now 19th overall with 90 points separating them from the standings leader.
Changes in Superstock too
Motors Events finished 7th overall at the 24 Heures Motos and won the Superstock category to make a striking entry into the FIM Endurance World Cup provisional standings. After scoring zero points at the Bol d’Or, the French Suzuki-mounted team went straight to 2nd place right behind the standings leader GERT56 by GS Yuasa. The BMW-mounted German team, who won the Superstock class at the Bol d’Or, still top the standings despite withdrawing at Le Mans. The top Superstock on the grid and the favourite for the win, GERT56 by GS Yuasa were slowed down by running out of fuel and a crash before giving up altogether following electronics problems.
Like Motors Events, the other two teams on the Superstock podium at Le Mans also scored their first points in the FIM Endurance World Cup standings. Moto Ain (Yamaha) have entered in 4th place and Team 33 Coyote Louit Moto (Kawasaki) in 6th place behind BMRT 3D Maccio Racing. Junior Team Le Mans Sud Suzuki are still in the running in 7th place, but No Limits Motor Team (Suzuki) have slipped back from the leading pack after withdrawing from the Le Mans race on Saturday evening.
The shake-up has thrown the FIM EWC wide open, and we can expect fresh battles on the track in the next three races. All standings here
Next race on the 2018-2019 FIM EWC calendar: the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring on 11 May.