The Bol d’or, fifth and penultimate round of the 2009 Qtel FIM Endurance World Championship will take place on 12th and 13th of September on the French track of Magny-Cours. If current championship leader Yamaha Austria has a great chance of clinching their first world title, the battle for victory will however remain highly disputed will the three other official teams, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, Yamaha France Team GMT 94 and Team GSR Kawasaki, not to mention several top teams who will also targeting a spot on the podium.
Against runner-up RT Racing Team, Yamaha Austria is only one point away from the world title. Theoretically speaking, with 35 points allocated for the winner, the Austrian Yamaha of Igor Jerman, Steve Martin and Gwen Giabbani, who took victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans against the same competition, can be crowned in France. Their main opponent will remain the SERT Suzuki. Vincent Philippe, Barry Veneman and Olivier Four will try their best to do better than their third place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, now that their GSX-R is more developed than at the start of the season.
The Yamaha Austria and the 2007 Bol d’or winner, Yamaha France GMT 94 of Sébastien Gimbert, David Checa and Erwan Nigon might enter into a fratricidal battle. The French Yamaha also has a revenge to take, after they had to retire from Le Mans with a leaking radiator.
A surprise might come from the Team GSR Kawasaki which enters, next to Kenny Foray, an exclusive team with American rider Kenny Noyes, who is currently racing the Spanish Superbike, and has already been seen on the world endurance scene, and the Spanish David Salom and Javier Fores, who are respectively racing for the Perdecini team in the World Superbike and the Superstock 1000.
Only Honda is missing amongst the Japanese factories. Due to the economic world crunch, Honda France, who scored a great second place at Le Mans with their CBR1000RR, won’t enter the Bol d’or. Michelin Power Research Team took the opportunity of recruiting one of their rider, Matthieu Lagrive, who’ll race alongside William Costes and Josep Monge. The Honda Michelin is also a serious podium contender.
With David Morillon, Frédéric Jond and Jean-Louis Devoyon, RT Racing Team will try their best to keep their second place in the championship. They’ll have to battle against Amadeus X-One and their Yamaha ridden by Anthony Dos Santos, Will Gruy and Ayrton Badovini, the Bolliger Team Switzerland and its Kawasaki ridden by Horst Saiger, Rico Penzkofer and Eric Mizera, the Suzuki Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers (Stéphane Molinier, David Brière, Jérôme Tangre) and the Yamaha BK Maco Moto Racing Team (Dani Ribalta, Jason Pridmore and Victor Carrasco).
Some others will try to break from their back luck since the beginning of the season. The Yamaha Phase One Endurance (Pedro Vallcaneras, Alex Cudlin and Damian Cudlin) would love to finish a race in the top 5 more than once this season, as they did at Albacete. Same applies to the Honda RMT 21 Racing Germany and the Suzuki AM Moto Racing Competition.
In the Superstock class, the favorite to win remains the Junior Team LMS Suzuki, but the 2009 FIM World Cup will probably go to the Qatar Endurance Racing Team. However, they still have to dispute it amongst the Suzuki Endurance Moto 45, their championship runner-up, and the Kawasaki Cordoba Patrimonio de la Humanidad and the Yamaha LTG Zone Rouge, unlucky this season, except at the 8 Hours of Albacete.
The free practice of the 73rd Bol d’or will start on Thursday morning and the first qualifications will begin Thursday at 4:30 pm. The second qualifying session is scheduled for Friday morning. The start of the Bol d’Or will be on Saturday at 3 pm on the Magny-Cours race track, in the Nievre department.