24 Hours of Le Mans: SRC Kawasaki Wins; SERT Takes Title

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2012 Endurance World Championship

The 40 or so survivors of the 24 Hours of Le Mans kept the suspense alive until the very end.

From the early hours of Saturday morning, the SRC Kawasaki and the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team battled it out out front, with just a handful of seconds between them.

Julien da Costa, Gregory Leblanc and Freddy Foray on the official Kawasaki finally got the better of Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Takuya Tsuda on the Suzuki despite their undiminished will to win.

“The title was also up for grabs but we staked everything on a win. We didn’t miss it by much,” says Dominique Méliand, team manager of the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, which clinched a 12th FIM World Endurance Championship at Le Mans.

For BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent, which takes second place in the 2012 FIM Endurance World Championship, a place on the podium of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a victory over fate.

After a crash early in the race, Sébastien Gimbert, Damian Cudlin and Erwan Nigon produced a fabulous race but were never able to catch up with the leading duo. The official BMW’s most dangerous rival for the third spot on the podium was the Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube. David Checa, Kenny Foray and Matthieu Lagrive were in the fray with the leaders until a radiator failure during the night caused them to lose contact with the front-runners. Christophe Guyot’s team takes third place in the 2012 world rankings.

Honda TT Legends again finished in the Top five. John McGuinness, Cameron Donald and Mathieu Gines hung in there in fifth position waiting to capitalise on any weakness up in front. The Honda National Motos ridden by Vincent Bocquet, Dylan Buisson and Etienne Masson is the first private motorcycle to be ranked at Le Mans. It took the chequered flag ahead of Monster Energy Yamaha YART, stymied first by crashes then by electrical failures.

In Superstock, the struggle for victory was just as intense. After the disqualification of the MCP Starteam 67 for non-compliance with the specs, the Kawasaki Louit Moto 33 came in first after 24 hours of racing action that saw off pre-race favourites such as Junior Team LMS Suzuki, Team Motors Events AMT Assurances (Suzuki) and AM Moto Racing Compétition (Suzuki), who all crashed out of the race, and the Yamaha of DG Sport Herock forced out by an overheating engine. At the end, Louit Moto 33, 8th overall, came in ahead of the BMW Penz13 Kraftwerk, which brings home the FIM Endurance World Cup. At the end of the race, the Yamaha of Team Viltaïs Racing Division and the Suzuki Atomic MotoSport finished third and fourth in Superstock after taking advantage of the misfortunes of the 3D Endurance Moto Center. Having spent much of the race up with the Superstock leaders, the 3D Kawasaki slipped back with a faulty gearbox. Nevertheless, it keeps its second place in the world Superstock rankings ahead of Atomic MotoSport.

Team Motors Events AMT Assurances had the most disappointing result in Superstock. A contact by Guillaume Dietrich forced the Suzuki out of the race. In the top spot for the FIM World Cup coming into Le Mans, Team Motors Events AMT Assurances fell back into fourth position.

2012 Endurance World Championship – 24 Hours of Le Mans Results:
1. SRC KAWASAKI – 844 LAPS
2. S.E.R.T. – 844 LAPS
3. BMW MOTORRAD FR THEVENT – 840 LAPS
4. YAMAHA GMT 94 MICHELIN – 839 LAPS
5. HONDA TT LEGENDS – 828 LAPS
6. NATIONAL MOTOS – 815 LAPS
7. MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA – 811
8. LOUIT MOTO 33 – 809 LAPS
9. PENZ13 KRAFTW. HERPIGNY – 806 LAPS
10. RAC 41 YAM AVENUE IPONE – 803 LAPS

2012 Endurance World Championship Final Point Standings:
1. S.E.R.T. 128
2. BMW MOTORRAD TEAM FR THEVENT 104
3. YAMAHA GMT 94 MICHELIN 98
4. HONDA TT LEGENDS 97
5. TEAM SRC KAWASAKI 80
6. MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA 59
7. BOLLIGER TEAM SWITZERLAND 55
8. YAMAHA FOLCH ENDURANCE 55
9. TEAM R2CL 49
10. FCC TSR HONDA 49