The first round of the 2014 Endurance World Championship is in the bag, as the 24 hours of the Bol d’Or at Magny-Cours are now in the bag. Taking the top step on the podium was last year’s Bol d’Or winner, SRC Kawasaki, but the win didn’t come easily for the Kawasaki factory team.
“The week got off to a bad start. With Fabien Foret out and the crash for Matthieu, I wouldn’t have fancied us to win,” admitted SRC Kawasaki Team Manager Gilles Stafler. “The best win we ever had in a 24-hour race was our first in Le Mans in 2010. But this one was the toughest. There was also a luck factor in the choice of the tyres and we had the support of really top-notch technical staff.”
Because of Matthieu Lagrive’s crash during the free practice session, this meant that SRC Kawasaki teammate Gregory Leblanc and Nicolas Salchaud had to pretty much split the racing duties for the 24-hour race. At one point, SRC Kawasaki was in the 20th spot, after an early crash, but the team rallied together, and capitalized on the misfortunes of others to bring home another Bol d’Or win.
Finishing five laps down, in second, was the Yamaha France’s factory-supported team: Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin; and in third was the Superstock Class leader, Junior Team LMS Suzuki, which was 11 laps down at the finish.
Noticeably absent from the finishing board were the usual suspects of Honda Racing, Yamaha Austria Racing Team (YART), and the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), all of whom had to retire mid-race because of mechanical troubles, but had strong showings prior to their retirements.
Honda Racing retired from the Bol d’Or, with a little over three hours remaining in the race, after a countershaft sprocket broke on the Honda CBR1000RR SP race bike. Occurring during Sebastien Gimbert’s penultimate stint, HRC’s retirement happened as the team was leading the race. Starting on pole position, HRC lead most of the Bol d’Or, making this weekend’s result especially tough, though encouraging for later rounds.
“We’re terribly disappointed. I feel so sad for the riders and the team for all the effort they’ve made,” said Neil Tuxworth of Honda Racing. “It was such a small part that broke, just a gearbox sprocket that damaged the engine and we couldn’t continue.
“If we’re to take any positives from it it’s that we were the strongest team in the race, we were leading by five laps and I’m certain that the team will go on to win some races this year. It’s just very unfortunate that we couldn’t finish the Bol d’Or. We’ve still gained 19-points in the championship so we’re not going away empty handed. We’ll come back fighting next time,” he added.
For the boys and girls at SERT, things also looked promising, especially with their third-posiiton start. Like Honda, SERT lead parts of the Bol d’Or as well, but with crashes from both Nigen and Philippe, the factory Suzuki team had to finally throw in the towel after two-thirds of the race duration.
For the Austrians in the Yamaha contingency, Bol d’Or proved to be a tougher experience than the podium-bound French squad, with the YART squad retiring after only five hours of competition. The retirement came after a big highside by Wayne Maxwell, who unfortunately broke his leg in the crash.
American Jason Pridmore and the Penz13.com Franks Autowelt Racing Team, also had a good showing until the crashing began. Leading the Superstock class, and being 5th overall at one point, the Penz13 Team dropped down the rankings after a big crash by Bastien Mackels, who was luckily okay.
The FIM Endurance World Championship continues in July, as teams will compete in the Suzuka 8-hour on July 27th, 2014.
Race Results for the 2014 Bol d’Or 24 Hours at Magny-Cours, France:
|2||Yamaha Racing – GMT 94||CHECA/FORAY/GINES/MAHIAS||Yamaha||EWC||-5 Laps|
|3||Junior Team LMS Suzuki||GUITTET/MASSON/BLACK/CAMUS||Suzuki||SST||-11 Laps|
|4||Team Bolliger Switzerland||SAIGER/STAMM/SUTTER/GARCIA||Kawasaki||EWC||-12 Laps|
|5||Motors Events April Moto||FASTRE/SAVARY/STORRAR||Suzuki||EWC||-13 Laps|
|6||National Motos||TIZON/FOUR/JUNOD/DEBISE||Honda||EWC||-18 Laps|
|7||Team R2CL||JONES/MARTIN/GIABBANI||Suzuki||EWC||-21 Laps|
|8||Yamaha Viltaïs Experience||BARDET/CARRILLO/NIGON…||Yamaha||SST||-29 Laps|
|9||METISS JLC MOTO||HOLUB/AYER/CHERON/TAUZIEDE||Metiss||OPN||-34 Laps|
|10||AM Moto Racing Competition||LOISEAU/MAITRE/BUISSON||Suzuki||SST||-40 Laps|
|11||TMC City Bike TRT 27||AYNIE/BILLEGA/DIARD/HOUDAYER||Suzuki||EWC||-45 Laps|
|12||BMRT 3D Endurance||GUYOT/BURLIN/ROMANENS/MANGE||Kawasaki||SST||-47 Laps|
|13||Välpker NRT 48 Schubert||STUPPI/TAKADA/NADALET||BMW||SST||-52 Laps|
|14||Penz13.com Franks Autowelt||PRIDMORE/VALLCANERAS/MACKELS||BMW||SST||-52 Laps|
|15||AZ Motos-April||NAPOLEONE/MEZARD/DUMAIN/KOKES||Suzuki||SST||-53 Laps|
|16||Tati Team Beaujolais Racing||ENJOLRAS/CHEVAUX/PRULHIERE…||Kawasaki||SST||-57 Laps|
|17||MCS Racing – Ipone||SASETA/VIZZIELLO/SANTAMARIA||Suzuki||SST||-63 Laps|
|18||Maco Racing Team||VAN KEYMEULEN/JERMAN/SZKOPEK…||Yamaha||EWC||-65 Laps|
|19||No Limits Motor Team||BOSCOSCURO/BUSSEI/CASAS/ROSSO||Suzuki||SST||-65 Laps|
|20||ACR 74||HUGUENIN/VIAL/GRIPPI/…||Suzuki||SST||-70 Laps|
|21||Team Guidon 11||GELAS/DESCOURS/ARNAL||Suzuki||SST||-71 Laps|
|22||Flembbo Leader Team||PROSENIK/BELLUCCI/DERINE/…||Kawasaki||EWC||-77 Laps|
|23||Team Space Moto 37||GALLERAND/NOUVELLON/ROCHE/…||Suzuki||EWC||-78 Laps|
|24||Aprilia Le Mans 2 Roues||POLESSO/PARISSE/CHABANY||Aprilia||SST||-79 Laps|
|26||PlusRace Compétition||NAVARRETE/MONIER/JACOBY/BETELLI||Suzuki||SST||-137 Laps|
|27||2CP Racing Bourgogne||MAJASTRE/CHELI/PETITJEAN/SIMON||Kawasaki||SST||-174 Laps|
|28||Team Mongore 13||SANCHEZ/COULON/JUGNET/COULON||Kawasaki||EWC||-319 Laps|
|29||Honda Racing||DA COSTA/FORAY/GIMBERT/…||Honda||EWC||-101 Laps|
|30||Team 18 Sapeurs-Pompiers||MAURIN/EGEA/ALARCOS||Kawasaki||EWC||-174 Laps|
|31||ACRO Racing Team||JEAN/GRIMBER/LUCAS||Yamaha||SST||-309 Laps|
|32||Racing Team Sarazin||MONGE/AUGER/MAJOR||Kawasaki||SST||-318 Laps|
|33||Hall Motos 02||TANGRE/HEDELIN/DE CAROLIS/…||Kawasaki||SST||-319 Laps|
|35||Motobox Kremer Racing||GAZIELLO/SCHERRER/PAAVILAINEN||Suzuki||EWC||-388 Laps|
|36||QERT||CUDLIN/AL NAIMI/PRINZ/AL SULAITI||Kawasaki||SST||-512 Laps|
|38||Starteam PAM-Racing||LUCAS/HARDT/LONGEARET||Suzuki||SST||-571 Laps|
|39||RS Speedbikes Racing||ALTENDORFER/BAUER/LA-WE/KOLLAN||BMW||EWC||-588 Laps|
|41||Team Dunlop Motors Events||PEPIN/LOUAULT/HUGOT/DEHAYE||Suzuki||SST||-622 Laps|
|42||Team Racing + Oüi FM||VIGNEAU/LE COQUEN/DUVIGNEAU/…||Kawasaki||SST||-633 Laps|
|43||Traqueur Louit Moto 33||PERRET/MARCHAND/STARING||Kawasaki||SST||-648 Laps|
|44||Team JCB Accelaration||DUBRAY/MESLET/CAHAGNET/COHEN||Kawasaki||EWC||-656 Laps|
|46||Amazone Fire||REMY/TAKASUGI/DUPUY||Suzuki||SST||-704 Laps|