In a season that he’d rather forget, Damian Cudlin’s incredible run of bad luck continued at the 73rd Bol’Dor 24 hour motorcycle race in France on the weekend.
Magny Cours played host of the 5th round of the World Endurance Championship and hopes were high for Cudlin and the Phase One Yamaha Team. Languishing just 15th in the WEC standings heading into the event, Cudlin was desperate for a strong points haul to recover some ground in the championship standings.
Unable to take part in the Pre Bol’Dor testing sessions, the Phase One Team found themselves on the back foot in practice and qualifying, struggling to find a suitable set up for the new R1 in the limited track time available. Although qualifying in an uncustomary 14th position, progress was made in the Warm Up session and the team was confident of a stronger showing in the race.
Being start rider for the first time at Phase One, Damian’s brother Alex made a solid start to the race and stayed clear of the 2nd lap carnage that forced a Pace Car onto the circuit. In a controlled first stint, ‘Jnr’ handed his big brother the reigns in good shape, as Damian set off in chase of the leaders. The gritty Aussie charged up the order as Phase One entered the top 10 for the first time, eventually pitting in 7th. Spaniard Pedro Valcaneras continued the climb up the order and by the 4th round of stops the Phase One Team sat in a fighting 5th position.
However just after 9pm local time Cudlin Jnr pitted unexpectedly with a rattling engine. The Phase One crew frantically searched for the fault as the #3 Yamaha dropped down the order. After a swift diagnosis, the Phase One Team were forced to abandon the race with a damaged crankshaft.
Disappointed with another non finish, Cudlin’s comments reflected most of the team’s after such a promising start to the race.
“Another disappointment in a season that we’d rather forget. If 2009 was an animal, I’d put it down.” Cudlin joked. “Although most of the weekend was a struggle, we made real progress in the race and showed that Phase One fighting spirit. We were in a strong position and we were all riding well. It’s a shame another engine failure means we’ll go home empty handed again… We deserved more than that.”
The Factory Suzuki squad claimed the race ahead of the Honda Michelin Team who were later penalized for running an illegal fuel tank. The Yamaha Austria Racing Team claimed the 2009 World Endurance Championship despite overheating problems dropping them from the major results.
Cudlin went on to congratulate his former team and in particular fellow Aussie Steve Martin on the championship win.
“Congratulations to the team that deserved the championship most this year, YART. I want to also congratulate my mate Steve Martin on becoming a World Endurance Champ. If I couldn’t win it, I’m glad he did.” Cudlin said.
The final round of the World Endurance Championship will be held in Qatar on the 14th of November.