News 19 Sep 2016

SERT opens 2016/2017 EWC season with Bol d'Or 24 Hours victory

Damian Cudlin's TSR Honda squad takes fifth position.

Source: Supplied.

Source: Supplied.

Suzuki Endurance Racing Team pulled off a superb 2016/2017 Endurance World Championship opening round win with a 10-lap lead over Team SRC Kawasaki and Japanese team Trick Star Racing, which made a brilliant debut at the Bol d’Or.

Defending champions SERT made a clean-sweep at the first race of the season, scooping 40 points for the win plus the 20 bonus points awarded to the team in the lead eight and 16 hours into the race. Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Etienne Masson had a perfect race, staying in the lead for 683 of the race’s 687 laps.

The 80th Bol d’Or will also be remembered for putting MotoGP riders on both the EWC and Superstock podiums and for having two Japanese teams in the top five – proof of the championship’s new international slant.

Randy de Puniet finished on the second step of the podium after his first Bol d’Or, alongside his SRC Kawasaki teammates Gregory Leblanc and Fabien Foret. A broken wheel axle slowed the team down shortly after nightfall, but SRC Kawasaki quickly caught up with the front group, though they admit the Suzuki clan was invincible this weekend.

Like F.C.C. TSR Honda at the Le Mans 24 Heures Motos in 2016, a Japanese team stepped on the podium at the Bol d’Or. Trick Star Racing pulled off third place on its very first foray outside the Suzuka 8 Hours with riders Erwan Nigon, Osamu Deguchi and Hitoyasu Izutsu.

Maco Racing Team fell just short of the podium after Greg Junod, Anthony dos Santos and Marko Jerman completed a fantastic race. F.C.C. TSR Honda rounded off the top five after the team featured Shinichi Ito, four-time winner of the Suzuka 8 Hours. The Bol d’Or marked his return to the track as he rode with top Aussie Damian Cudlin and Kazuma Watanabe.

A Superstock battle raged just behind the top five, with another GP rider in the spotlight carrying off a historic win. This was Moto3 rider Alexis Masbou’s first-ever endurance race, alongside Johann Nigon and Hugo Clere on the Yamaha Moto Ain bike. They finished six overall and first in Superstock.

Pole-sitter GMT94 Yamaha plummeted to the depths of the standings after two crashes, but finished ninth after a brilliant climb back up. Others were less fortunate as several teams had to throw in the towel at the opener.

Engine failure put paid to YART Yamaha Official EWC Team’s hopes in the early hours. Broc Parkes, who posted the race’s fastest lap at a 1m59.124s, Josh Hayes and Sheridan Morais had got the Austrian Yamaha up to second place when it happened, after running out of fuel during the first stint.

Honda Endurance Racing got unlucky yet again. After lapping in the top three for the first quarter of the race, the British Honda squad fell back following a crash, then had to withdraw because of a gearbox problem two hours from the finish line. Alex Cudlin’s new BMW Motorrad Team withdrew with a broken engine and Team April Moto Motors Events with a broken gearbox.