2013 FIM Endurance World Championship
The first of four rounds in the 2013 FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) got underway this weekend at Magny-Cours for the Bol d’Or 24 Hours.
And for the second year in the row, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R was the dominant motorcycle at the French circuit, the win going to Kawasaki SRC team of Gregory Leblanc, Jeremy Guarnoni and guest rider Loris Baz from Kawasaki Racing’s World Superbike team. Last year, the team took a wire-to-wire victory, a very impressive feat in a 24-hour race.
Kawasaki SRC took this year’s win of the of 77th running of the Bol d’Or endurance race April 21-22 on its number 11 ZX-10R Ninja donning Pirelli Diablo Tires ahead of Monster Energy Yamaha YART and the reigning EWC Champions, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT).
En route to the win, Kawasaki SRC, which had the pole, set a new race record, completing 808 laps. This was nine ahead of YART, and 11 ahead of SERT.
Weather played a role in this year’s race due to intermittent showers during the Saturday afternoon. Kawasaki SRC battled in the beginning with SERT and Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube, which just missed the podium after being hit by electronic woes at the end of the race.
But regardless of the issues, Yamaha France riders David Checa, Kenny Foray and Matthieu Lagrive battled with Kawasaki at the front for nearly 20 hours.
By taking pole position and going on to win, the SRC Kawasaki handed in a flawless card at Magny-Cours. However, the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team seemed an unlikely candidate for the podium after crashes by Anthony Delhalle and Vincent Philippe as a result of bad tire choices early on in the race.
But Dominique Méliand’s crew, who were lying back in 30th four hours into the race, showed their guts and determination. Lap after lap, they came up the field and, helped at the end by the misfortunes that befell Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube, a relieved Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Julien Da Costa hauled themselves on to the third step of the podium, saving vital points for Suzuki in the overall standings.
Monster Energy Yamaha YART was in the leading pack from start to finish. Igor Jerman, Broc Parkes and Sheridan Morais did not put a foot wrong but were unable to take the race to the Kawasaki.
The Austrian Yamaha ran a prudent race after putting together its final crew at the last moment, and Sheridan Morais, who stepped in to replace an injured Josh Waters, had his first ride on the Yamaha at Magny Cours. So three makers were on the podium, paired with three different tyre manufacturers: Kawasaki-Pirelli in first, followed by Yamaha-Michelin and Suzuki-Dunlop.
BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent fell by the wayside when Sébastien Gimbert, Sylvain Barrier and Karl Muggeridge had to throw in the towel at dusk. Two early crashes had left the motorcycle too damaged to go on. Honda TT Legends fell behind the leading pack with engine trouble on Sunday morning, leaving the top Honda spot for National Motos. Slowed down by a crash, Gregory Junod, Michael Rutter and Olivier Four finished in 8th after holding on to a place in the top 5. Team R2CL, who moved up the field as the race went on, were able to take 7th at the finish with avec Guillaume Dietrich, Gwen Giabbani and Dylan Buisson.
In the race for the FIM Endurance World Cup, Junior Team Suzuki LMS chalked up another win. Baptiste Guittet, Etienne Masson and Nans Chevaux finished a respectable 5th and 1st in Superstock just behind the top teams. This category saw a close-run fight with Penz13.com Franks Autowelt Racing Team (BMW) finishing just behind Junior Team Suzuki. Team Motors Events April Moto (Suzuki) came in 3rd in Superstock ahead of the Suzukis of Starteam Pam Racing and AM Moto Racing Compétition, kept off the podium as a result of a crash.
The next leg of the FIM Endurance World Championship will be the Suzuka 8 Hours in Japan July 28.
Kawasaki SRC Quotes:
Gregory Leblanc says: “A second win in a row it’s just fantastic. We made the perfect race an it’s a great pleasure to share this victory with the team Kawasaki SRC and with Loris and Jeremy of course. Tonight i’m sore but finally it’s a sweet feeling”.
Jeremy Guarnoni says: What can I say ? It’s just fantastic. For my first time in a factory team I climb on the top spot. For sure it may have been predictaed but racing it’s not always easy. I’m really proud of what we achieved and, at the end, I can say that we took the victory that we deserved.
Loris Baz says: “The Bol was amazing. We knew we had a really good bike and a really good team. Even in road racing it is impossible to say that for sure you will win but in a 24-hour race it is even more impossible, because anything can happen.
“We made a good start and we were in front from the beginning. Really soon all the other favorite teams started having problems; it ended up as three teams fighting for the win. Racing at night was hard, when you have to keep pushing and concentrating at the same time. That is why I like Endurance racing. At one time you have to push really hard, then take more care, then push again. There is a lot of thinking involved.
“There was a lot of media attention because this is a really big race. We are the youngest ever team to win the Bol d’Or. Endurance is something special because anything can happen it is really a team race. There are a lot of emotions when you win because you are fighting and working all through the 24 hours, so you have to make a lot of good things happen.”
2013 Bol d’Or 24 Hours at Magny-Cours Endurance World Championship Results:
1. SRC Kawasaki (Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja) 808 laps
2. Monster Energy YART (Yamaha YZF-R1) 799
3. SERT (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 797
4. Yamaha France GMT 94 (Yamaha YZF-R1) 793
5. Junior Team LMS Suzuki (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 788
6. Penz13.com Franks Autowelt (BMW S1000RR) 788
7. Team R2CL (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 785
8. National Motos (Honda CBR1000RR) 784
9. Team Motors Events (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 783
10. Starteam PAM Racing (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 782
2013 Endurance World Championship Point Standings (after one of five rounds):
1. SRC Kawasaki (Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja) 40 points
2. Monster Energy YART (Yamaha YZF-R1) 33
3. SERT (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 28
4. Yamaha France GMT 94 (Yamaha YZF-R1) 24
5. Junior Team LMS Suzuki (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 21
6. Penz13.com Franks Autowelt (BMW S1000RR) 19
7. Team R2CL (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 17
8. National Motos (Honda CBR1000RR) 15
9. Team Motors Events (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 13
10. Starteam PAM Racing (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 11