Yoshimura SERT Motul: a look back at the win
The new team Yoshimura SERT Motul struck gold on their first attempt. The 2021 factory Suzuki team pulled off a superb victory at the 24 Heures Motos, their first track outing. A look back at the win and those who pulled it off.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team had not won in their home territory Le Mans since their 2015 24 Heures Motos victory. It is not exactly SERT who have won in 2021, but rather the new Franco-Japanese tie-up Yoshimura SERT Motul.
Behind their success there is the technical expertise of Yoshimura Suzuki, four-time winners of the Suzuka 8 Hours, and the experience of Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, who have 18 FIM Endurance World Championship titles to their credit.
“Yoshimura worked hard to optimize the GSX-R1000R,” says Damien Saulnier, team manager Yoshimura SERT Motul, “everything from the filling of the fuel tank to the swingarm. We also have a new fork and little things like stalk switches that make things easier for the riders. I’m proud of this new partnership. We knew we were in with a fighting chance. But I wouldn’t have believed we’d have no issues at all during the entire race. I’ve rarely experienced a race as ideal as this one. It meant we could avoid taking risks to make up for lost time on track.”
“It’s a victory for Yoshimura and SERT but also for Suzuki,” says Yohei Kato, technical director of Yoshimura. “We were under a lot of pressure but our success at the 24 Heures Motos is a reward for our work. This amazing win is very important. SERT have given us the number 1 and the goal is clearly to hold on to it in 2021 in this competitive and rewarding championship.”
A first for the riders too
Gregg Black, Xavier Simeon and Sylvain Guintoli have never won the 24 Heures Motos, so the victory was a significant one.
“This win is very important for all of us,” says Sylvain Guintoli. “It was the first race for the SERT-Yoshimura partnership and for me as part of the team. It was very important to put on a good performance right from the start. We know now that we’re competitive, and we’ll enjoy the rest of the season. There are multiple factors behind this win: the vast experience of both SERT and of Yoshimura, who have developed this machine at the Suzuka 8 Hours over the past 3 years; the Bridgestone tyres that performed well. And my teammates Gregg and Xavier. They brought their experience to the race. Their advice also helped me a lot because it was my first 24-hour race. I’ve done a lot of 8-hour races, but a 24-hour race is really different. I was expecting it to be tough but it’s very, very tough. And we had good weather conditions. Gregg and Xavier told me it’s worse when it’s cold or raining. It’s physically and mentally exhausting. I didn’t sleep. I tried, but I couldn’t. It’s a real challenge. Endurance requires true sharing with one’s teammates and the team, who are on their feet all night. There’s genuine team spirit, which I really liked. Endurance isn’t easy, and you can never let up.”
Xavier Simeon also sees the cohesiveness of the team as a reason for the win. “It’s a very important win because the team were under scrutiny following the tie-up between SERT and Yoshimura and the change to Bridgestone tyres. So everyone was under a lot of pressure, but in the end it all went really well thanks to the organization and the incredible team atmosphere.” Sylvain Guintoli’s arrival is also an asset for the team. “His speed is clearly his big advantage. He’s an attacker, but he knows his limits. Endurance nowadays is about speed and consistency, and having Sylvain as a teammate encourages us to go a bit faster.”
“He’s an experienced rider who contributes his impressions”, says Gregg Black. “It’s interesting to hear his comments, the way he works. We all take pleasure in racing, we’re not trying to be the best on the team, we want to win races and now we’ve done it.”
“The first 24-hour race is super important, as we saw last season with the Bol d’Or win. It gets you big championship points and puts the pressure on the others. We wanted to pull off a big result here, score big points. Now we have an advantage in the championship, but we’ll have to keep on pushing.”
On Saturday 17 July in Portugal, Yoshimura SERT Motul will start the 12 Hours of Estoril with a 16-point lead over their competition.