Kawasaki Deals Suzuki an Upset at the 76th Bol d’Or

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With the weather changing almost constantly during the weekend’s race and close to freezing at night, the 76th annual Bol d’Or proved to be both an exciting and grueling race that saw teams changing to wets, slicks, and cut-slicks almost constantly in the pit stops. Racing for 24 hours, the SRC Kawasaki Team did the unthinkable, and beat the heavily favored Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) in this year’s Bol d’Or endurance race. Losing most of its time in the pits, SERT had to contend with a crash in the fourth hour of the Bol d’Or, which sent lead-rider Vincent Philippe home early with a broken collarbone.

Completing the remaining 20 hours of the race with only two riders, SERT was able to close the gap to SRC Kawasaki in the final hours of the contest to only 60 seconds, but after several more pit stops the team would have to settle for finishing just on the same lap as the Kawasaki squad, as they slowed their pace to ensure victory. While one could make the argument that SERT lost the race instead of SRC Kawasaki winning it, riding a flawless and careful 24 hours is a part of the winning strategy in the FIM World Endurance Championship. Kudos to the SRC Kawasaki Team.

Also playing the hare to Kawasaki’s tortoise was the Honda TT Legends crew, which also suffered a crash on Sunday morning. Losing the front-end of the Honda TT Legends CBR1000RR at high-speeds, Cameron Donald had to push the battered CBR back to the team’s pits, where after a 20 minute pit stop the Honda TT Legends crew was able to get back to racing with John McGuinness at the helm. The quick rebuild allowed the Honda TT Legends to salvage ninth place overall, and sixth place in the WEC standings.

“Not the result we came for but it was one of our strongest rides yet,” said Honda TT Legends Rider John McGuinness. “We were holding fifth and looking good in very difficult conditions. It was a gruelling race with temperatures as low as 2 or 3 degrees through the night. I got caught up in some of the bad weather and had to pit for tyres changes which meant I then had to do double stints with 50 or 60 laps at a time and that is hard work.

“After Cameron slipping off at probably 150mph and the bike cart wheeling its way though the gravel, luckily Cam was alright and the team did amazing job at getting the bike back out there,” continued McGuinness. “We wanted to be a bit further up but at least we’ve picked up some world championship points.”

Finishing third was the Monster Yamaha YART squad, while the Yamaha France backed Yamaha GMT94 Michelin Yamalube finished a close fourth to its Austrian factory rival. With the Yamalube Folch Endurance team finishing fifth, Yamaha accounted for three of the top-five positions.

Race Results from the 76th Bol d’Or 24 Hours at Magny-Cours, France:

Pos. Team Bike Riders Class Time
1 Team Kawasaki SRC Kawasaki Da Costa/Leblanc/Four WEC 781 laps
?2 Suzuki Endurance Racing Team Suzuki Philippe/Delhalle/Foret WEC + 1’41.055
3 Monster Yamaha YART Yamaha Jerman/Martin/Giabbani WEC 5 laps
4 Yamaha GMT94 Michelin Yamalube Yamaha Checa/Foray/Lagrive WEC 5 laps
5 Yamalube Folch Endurance Yamaha Ribalta/Dos Santos/Tizon WEC 16 laps
6 3D Endurance Moto Center Kawasaki Debise/Delegue/Holub SST 31 laps
7 Penz13 Kraftwerk Herpigny BMW Buisson/Fastre/Vallcaneras SST 32 laps
8 Starteam 67 Suzuki Lucas/Hardt/Diguet SST 33 laps
9 Honda TT Legends Honda Donald/McGuinness/Andrews WEC 34 laps
10 DG Sport Herock Yamaha Van Keymeulen/Cudlin/Vizziello SST 40 laps
11 Atomic Motorsport Suzuki Muteau/Jond SST 44 laps
12 Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers BMW Molinier/Prulhiere/Briere WEC 45 laps
13 Racing Team Sarazin Kawasaki Gerouah/Kokes/Bernon SST 46 laps
14 Louit Moto 33 Kawasaki Baz/Guarnoni/Chevaux SST 49 laps
15 Dunlop Motors Events Suzuki Charpin/Maccio/Wolf WEC 51 laps
16 Team R2CL Suzuki Capela/Dumain/Cheron WEC 54 laps
17 SH Technologie Scrubs BMW Pouhair/Teramoto/Demarey WEC 59 laps
18 Moto AIN Racing Team Yamaha Haquin/Mizera/Varesco SST 63 laps
19 MCS Racing Ipone Suzuki Devoyon/Bellucci/Saseta SST 70 laps
20 National Motos Honda Monge/Bocquet/Masson WEC 77 laps
21 Space Moto Suzuki Nouvellon/Deneque/Gallerand WEC 81 laps
22 Aprilia Le Mans 2 Roues Aprilia Boue/Parisse/Le Royer SST 91 laps
23 Viltais Racing Division Yamaha Bardet/Besnard/Berthome SST 91 laps
24 Motors Events AMT Assurances Suzuki Savary/Dietrich/Moreira SST 98 laps
25 Leman Racing BMW Villarroya/Monnot/Vinet WEC 106 laps
26 BI-Meca Racing Team Kawasaki Feuillee/Pons/Bergeron SST 109 laps
27 24 Racing + BMW Delage/Romanens/Bruno SST 111 laps
28 Max et Yann Racing Team Suzuki Thepaut/Cury/Laniel WEC 113 laps
29 Motos Actives Sport 14 Suzuki Pigeon/Pigeon/Roche SST 115 laps
30 Acro Racing Team Yamaha Jean/Grimber/Lucas SST 116 laps
31 Team Racing 85 Kawasaki Gaugfreteau/Landreau/Perrin SST 126 laps
32 AZ Moto Expert Suzuki Mezard/Mau/Navarrete SST 133 laps
33 Flembbo Dijamant Serbia Kawasaki Bosio/Cersosimo/Dehaye WEC 133 laps
34 Team Racing+ Oui FM Honda Dubarle/Tabaries/De Sousa SST 135 laps
35 Team ACR 74 Suzuki Huguenin/Schertenleib/Petitjean SST 144 laps
36 YD Racgin CG Motos Kawasaki Thouzet/Deneque/Belmomme SST 157 laps
37 Ecurie Chrono Sport Kawasaki Herveux/Pibolleau/Segura SST 179 laps

Source: Bol d’Or; Photo: SERT