Josh Hook wins Le Mans with teammates Freddy Foray and Alan Techer
Bridgestone take first ever Le Mans 24 Hour victory
Honda now lead World Endurance Championship
Falls cost both YART and GMT94 dearly
F.C.C. TSR Honda France has won the 24 Heures Motos and made history into the bargain. This is the first time a Japanese team has made it to the top step of the podium at Le Mans, finishing ahead of British squad Honda Endurance Racing and BMW-mounted German team Wepol Racing by Penz13.
The 41st edition of the 24 Heures Motos will go down in history for several reasons. The most notable one is the victory of the Japanese team: a Honda France partner this season.
Three-time Suzuka 8 Hours winner F.C.C. TSR Honda France today became the first Japanese team to win the 24 Heures Motos. By doing so, the squad handed tyre manufacturer Bridgestone its first Le Mans victory, and shot to the top of the 2017-2018 FIM EWC provisional standings.
F.C.C. TSR Honda France had previously won a spot on the championship podium in 2016, but today the squad’s determined riders Freddy Foray, Alan Techer and Josh Hook finally enabled Honda to once again taste victory at Le Mans. The brand’s last win here dates back to 2006, with National Motos.
Another Honda team was also on the podium: British squad Honda Endurance Racing. Gregory Leblanc, Sébastien Gimbert and Erwan Nigon did a fantastic climb back up after slipping down to 38th place in the early stages of the race due to an electronics problem.
Germany was represented on the podium too, by Wepol Racing by Penz13. The BMW-mounted team comprising Michael Laverty, Christian Iddon and Daniel Webb ran a superb race despite a crash and all the pitfalls of a 24-hour race. Wepol Racing by Penz13 had picked up 2nd place at the Bol d’Or last September.
Three nationalities were represented on the podium, and three tyre manufacturers: Bridgestone, Dunlop and Pirelli, in that order. An absolute first.
Switzerland narrowly missed a podium place: Kawaski-mounted Bolliger Team Switzerland’s all-Swiss line-up (Roman Stamm, Robin Mulhauser and Sébastien Suchet) finished fourth.
In 5th place (and deserving of a mention for sheer tenacity) was Team SRC Kawasaki. After lapping in front in the early part of the race, a crash followed by a radiator problem saw the team plunging to the bottom of the rankings. But Randy de Puniet, Mathieu Gines and Jérémy Guarnoni rode hard and doggedly for the full 24 hours to finish in the Top 5. Their perseverance netted Team SRC Kawasaki the Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy, which rewards a team’s fighting and competitive spirit.
The 2018 24 Heures Motos will also be remembered as an action-packed race peppered with upsets. Many of the leading teams had a rocky time of it. YART Yamaha had no choice but to withdraw following a crash. BMW-mounted NRT48 threw in the towel because of an electronics problem. Tecmas BMW was stopped by an engine breakdown. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team was afflicted by brake problems and finished far back in 24th place. GMT94 Yamaha, which was constantly in the lead for 557 of the race’s 843 laps, lost its footing after two crashes and finished 10th, just behind Mercury Racing.
76,000 spectators were at Le Mans to watch the 41st edition of the 24 Heures Motos.
Next race on the FIM EWC calendar: the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring on 12 May.
2018 24 Heures Motos Results
- FCC TSR Honda France
- Honda Endurance Racing
- Wepol Racing
- Bolliger Team Switzerland
- 3ART Moto Team 95
FIM EWC – TEAMS RANKING
- F.C.C. TSR Honda France 95
- GMT94 YAMAHA 91
- Honda Endurance Racing 82
- WEPOL Racing by penz13.com 81
- MERCURY RACING 48
FIM EWC – MANUFACTURERS RANKING
- Honda 120
- BMW 98
- Yamaha 86
- Kawasaki 73
- Suzuki 52
Superstock podium trio in the Top 8
3ART Moto Team 95 (Yamaha/Alex Plancassagne, Matthieu Lussiana and Pepijn Bijterbosch) got the upper hand in this category, coming in on the heels of the factory-backed Kawasaki after a hassle-free race, just ahead of Moto Ain (Yamaha/Roberto Rolfo, Alexis Masbou and Christoffer Bergman) and Junior Team Le Mans Sud Suzuki’s Hugo Clère, Alex Sarrabayrouse and Louis Rossi (the Suzuki-mounted team was also on the Superstock podium at the Bol d’Or).
Yamah rue what could have been
Christophe Guyot – GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team Manager
“The races follow each other and are not alike. We have to accept this blow of fate. David Checa always respected the running chart that we set together. We don’t have any regrets. We were 5 laps ahead and running excellent lap times throughout the night, but that only gave us a 10 minute advantage, and 10 minutes is not a really comfortable advantage. Following his fall, David was amazing because the head of the bike was blocked and it was very difficult to move. We do not know how he managed to get it back to the box. The mechanics managed to fix a damaged motorcycle, the fuel rail, tank, handlebars, radiators, exhaust system, dashboard, brakes, foot pegs, everything, in less than 30 minutes. Finishing this race after the disappointment of losing the lead has been a great satisfaction for us. We look forward to the next race in Slovakia.”
Mandy Kainz – YART Yamaha Official EWC Team Manager
“We did nothing wrong all week, we were always the fastest, so it is unfortunate to leave Le Mans without any points. Let’s just focus on the positive parts. We were the fastest in Qualifying, and we made Pole Position. We were also fast in most of the practice sessions. The riders were riding well; it was just unlucky for Marvin to crash. The bike was really damaged and it took 1 hour to repair it, which cost us a lot of laps and time. We made the decision to withdraw to preserve the riders and the material so we will be ready for the next race in Slovakia Ring, where we will also be the team to beat. We will do our best to return to the top of the championship.”