News 11 Apr 2016

Australians podium at Le Mans 24 Hours EWC opener

Cudlin brothers finish second and third in gruelling affair.

Source: Supplied.

Source: Supplied.

Team Kawasaki SRC was the uncontested winner of the 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans, ahead of Team April Moto Motors Events, which ran a superb race right from the start, and F.C.C. TSR Honda, the highly competitive Japanese newcomer to Le Mans.

Team Kawasaki SRC’s FIM EWC season has got off to a flying start. Gilles Stafler’s team wiped out the competition at the 39th edition of the 24 Heures Motos and swept the deck, pocketing the 40 winner’s points plus the 20 bonus points awarded to the leader at the 8-hour and 16-hour mark.

Despite a minor crash at the start of the race on a treacherous track, the Kawasaki SRC coasted past the chequered flag with a nine-lap lead over Team April Moto Motors Events. This Suzuki with Gregg Black, Grégory Fastré and Australian Alex Cudlin in the saddle was a real eye-opener, leading the race in the first 14 laps thanks to Black.

Third at the finish line, F.C.C. TSR Honda also took the lead midway through the race, for 115 laps. Well-known in Japan with three wins at the Suzuka 8 Hours, the Japanese team backed by Bridgestone made a dramatic entrance at the 24 Heures Motos.

The Japanese Honda entrusted to Kazuma Watanabe, Alan Techer and Damian Cudlin – elder brother of Alex – ran a faultless race, but was unable to stand up to pressure from April Moto Motors Events in a final-stage duel.

Also in the leading pack, Team R2CL of another Australian in Aaron Morris finished in fourth place after being held up by a rear wheel problem, which did not stop one of its riders, Lucas Mahias, posting the fastest lap time at 1m38.448s.

The Suzuki Endurance Racing Team finished fifth, unusually for the reigning champion. Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Etienne Masson did an amazing climb-back from the depths of the standings after two crashes.

SERT was not the only favourite to bite the dust. Riding the YART Yamaha, Broc Parkes and Max Neurkirchner, manning the bike on their own after Ivan Silva’s fall, gave no quarter, and finished 11th. After a long spell battling for the podium, Honda Endurance Racing fell back because of electrical problems and finished 19th.

Other teams were forced to retire. The BMW Motorrad withdrew from the race during the evening with an engine problem. GMT94 Yamaha threw in the towel after Louis Rossi’s three crashes and so did Jackson Racing. Team Louit Moto 33 Traqueur also had to withdraw because of electrical problems.

The next race of the FIM EWC will take place on Saturday, 11 June, when the 12 Hours of Portimão takes place as the second round of the 2016 season.