2012 8 Hours of Doha | EWC Preview

2012 FIM Endurance World Championship

The second round of the 2012 FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) gets underway this Saturday (June 9) with the 8 Hours of Doha at Losail International Circuit, Qatar, the same circuit that hosted the opening round of the 2012 MotoGP Championship.

The second of five rounds will be lacking some major players, though, considering SRC Kawasaki team will be absent, the team that won the opening first of five rounds in the EWC, the Bol d’Or at Le Mans.

Also absent will be the standard lineup of the Honda TT Legends Team, who are currently competing at the 2012 Isle of Man TT (John McGuinness, Cameron Donald, Simon Andrews and Gary Johnson).

But this won’t deter the action, considering some of the teams have brought some top-Japanese riders to the grid.

The Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) has signed up Yukio Kagayama, who kept the crowd on the edge of their seats at the last Suzuka 8 Hour race, to support Vincent Philippe, now healthy again after breaking his collarbone at the Bol d’Or, and Anthony Delhalle. And for good measure, Monster Energy Yamaha YART has given its crew a boost by signing Noriyuki Haga. The Japanese Yamaha rider, who is riding in British Superbike this year, will be joining Igor Jerman and Gwen Giabbani, the FIM reports.

While SERT and Monster Energy Yamaha YART will be keen to get the best preparation for the Suzuka 8 Hour race in July, team Honda TT Legends is without key riders who are tied up with the Tourist Trophy on the Isle of Man until 8 June. While John McGuinness is trying to clinch a 16th victory in the TT, in Doha the official Honda will be ridden by Ryuichi Kiyonari, winner of the two last editions of the Suzuka 8 Hour race, British Superbike regular Michael Laverty and BSB Superstock 1000 rider Jason O’Halloran. Jason O’Halloran finished 6th at the Suzuka 8 Hours in 2008 but Michael Laverty is an Endurance rookie, the FIM reports.

Last year’s winner, the Yamaha Racing France GMT 94 Ipone team, returns with its three-rider lineup of David Checa, Kenny Foray and Matthieu Lagrive. The BMW Motorrad France Team of with Sébastien Gimbert, Erwan Nigon and Damian Cudlin will be looking for some redemption after a crash forced them out of the Bol d’Or.

In Superstock the ranks of the favorites are closing. Team Penz13 Kraftwerk Herpigny Racing (BMW) is well placed after a podium at the Bol d’Or ahead of Starteam 67 (Suzuki), DG Sport Herock (Yamaha) and Atomic MotoSport (Suzuki). Winners of the 2011 FIM World Cup, Team Motors Events AMT Assurances (Suzuki) will have to play catch up. Also one to watch is the Qatar Endurance Racing Team’s Suzuki in the hands of QMMF Moto2 team-mates Nasser Al Malki, Anthony West and Elena Rosell.

The 8 Hours of Doha will start on Saturday, June 9, at 5 p.m. local time, an hour and a half before the sun sets over Qatar.

You can follow the race with “Live Timing” on FIM-LIVE.COM Saturday.