2021 FIM Endurance World Championship
24 Heures Motos
The YART trio of Karel Hanika, Marvin Fritz and Niccolo Canepa all set brilliant laps during qualifying to take pole position ahead of the Yoshimura Suzuki and the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Teams.
YART bagged an important five World Championship points for that pole position and increased that tally to a total of 14 after a running duel for the lead of the race with the Yoshimura Suzuki team consisting of Gregg Black, Xavier Simeon and Sylvain Guintoli. That duel ended though in the tenth hour of the race when an engine failure put YART out to pasture.
YART had set the pace in every session leading up to the race start and looked to have the speed and consistency to win with Karel Hanika particularly impressive. The team actually rebuilt the engine within an hour and an attempt was made to return to the track before they confirmed their retirement.
Marvin Fritz – YART Yamaha Official EWC Team
“I don’t know what to say, it’s like a never-ending story. Last year we finished fourth and this year we were so strong in practice, and we had pole. We knew our strongest point would be in the night because our tyres and bike was working well in night practice, so we knew this would be our strongest point. We struggled in the day a bit more than we expected but even before the technical issue we was catching SERT by half a second to a second a lap and was in a good place for the night running. Karel, Niccoló and I have done a good job this week, the team has done an amazing job and we deserve so much more. The championship will be hard because we lose a lot of points in the 24-hour races but we’re already focussed to do as best as we can in Estoril and recover some points.”
The Tati Team Beringer Kawasaki of Alan Techer, Sebastien Suchet and Julien Enjolras had performed better than pundits had expected with a strong fourth in qualifying but their pace was also ultimately unrewarded after crashes ruined their run. They were ultimately forced to retire after 339 laps and over ten hours of racing.
The Halfway Mark
After taking the hole-shot at the race start BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team crashed and then had several mechanical issues before regrouping and setting a great pace to fight their way back up to tenth by the eighth hour of the race, and were then up to fifth by the halfway point.
It was much the same story for the ERC Ducati entry who had been beset by some problems and had also suffered a crash before battling hard back up eighth place by the 12-hour mark.
At that halfway 12-hour mark Yoshimura Suzuki were a stunning five laps clear of the field.
Holding down second place halfway through was the F.C.C. TSR Honda France trio of Josh Hook Mike DiMeglio and Yuki Takahashi. The Australian had proved the fastest of the Honda triumvirate in qualifying and put in solid stints for the team to keep them ahead of the Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar entry of Jeremy Guarnoni, Erwan Nigon and David Checa, who had been slowed earlier in the race by braking problems.
Six Hours Left
With six hours left in the race the dawn broke with Yoshimura Suzuki leading F.C.C. TSR Honda France by four laps. Gregg Black was in the hot seat for Suzuki while the Fireblade was being piloted by Josh Hook.Honda in turn were three laps clear of Erwan Nigon on the Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar entry.
With three-quarters of the race down the BMW Motorrad entry had improved to fourth place ahead of Team Bolliger Switzerland’s ZX-10R.
Problems for F.C.C. TSR Honda France
With five-and-a-half hours left Josh Hook’s tyres were toasted and he entered the pits for fuel, Nissin brakes and Bridgestone rubber while handing over the controls of the Fireblade to Mike DiMeglio. It was certainly at a very critical juncture as he actually seemed to run out of fuel at the start of pit-lane and had to push the bike the last couple of hundred metres to his pit garage!
The fuel issue also affected their re-start as the bike refused to fire and the crew attempted to push-start the bike up pit-lane but it still stubbornly refused to start. Team members then pushed the bike back down the pit-lane and back to their pit garage to try and investigate the matter further and breathe some life back into the bike. The clock was still ticking of course, and by the time they got the bike back into the garage five-minutes had already passed.
As technicians removed the bodywork and fuel tank to investigate the issue further on the F.C.C. TSR bike the Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar was clicking over laps and relegated the Honda entry to third place. A few minutes later Markus Reiterberger then promoted the BMW Motorrad entry to that third place as F.C.C. TSR Honda drifted further down the leader-board. Technicians continued to try and sort whatever issue was preventing the Fireblade from firing.
Switch-blocks and various parts were being changed to try and fault-find their way to the source of the problem. A senior Japanese engineer was leading the effort but with the problem not being obvious it was slow and painful going.Parts of the wiring loom were being extricated next along with injector feed lines. The F.C.C. TSR Honda had been running in a safe looking second place after completing 659 laps, but it was now looking uncertain if they were going to add any more laps to that tally… Was it even a lack of fuel that caused the fire to go out on Hook as he entered pit-lane after all..?
After more than half-an-hour in the pits the F.C.C. TSR Honda got back on track in sixth position. Now a lap behind the National Motos Superstock Honda in fifth place, three-laps behind Team Bolliger Switzerland Kawasaki.
The ERC Ducati squad also experienced a few more problems and after working their way back up to eighth from 15th, had drifted back to 11th with four-hours left in the race.
Just when it looked as though F.C.C. TSR would likely move back up to fifth place and perhaps even fourth place before race end, Josh Hook went down with two-hours and 45-minutes to go and had to slow limp back to the pits via access roads with no brakes. He rolled straight back into the pit garage where technicians quickly got down to work, replacing the master cylinder and clip-on along with various other components.By the time Hook was back on track they had lost another four positions, slipping to tenth with just over two-and-a-half hours to run.
The challenges were still not over for the F.C.C. TSR squad. They had been back on track and running well for the full duration of Hook’s stint but once he pitted to hand over to Mike DiMeglio the Fireblade once again refused to fire when he tried to leave the pits. The Fireblade was rolled into the pit garage once again for investigation and this time 17-minutes were lost in the pits before the bike fired up and rejoined the race. While in the pits they were relegated further down the order with ERC Ducati pushing them down to 12th place.
With half an hour left in the race Yoshimura Suzuki had an eight-lap lead and were running like clockwork. Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar were in second place and had five-laps on the third placed BMW Motorrad squad. Team Bolliger Switzerland were fourth, another 11-laps behind the BMW outfit and on the same lap as fifth placed National Motos Honda Fireblade, which was the leading Superstock machine. F.C.C. TSR Honda France had clawed their way back to tenth but were three-laps behind the ninth placed Ducati.
Nothing of significance happened in the final half-hour to upset that apple cart and Yoshimura Suzuki sailed home to a brilliant eight-lap victory over the Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar squad. BMW Motorrad kicked off their 2021 campaign with a podium that was achieved against the odds after they suffered a few issues earlier in the race.
Sylvain Guintoli won his first ever 24-hour race with the Yoshimura Suzuki squad alongside Gregg Black and Xavier Simeon. A faultless run for the Damien Saulnier run squad.
Yohei Kato – Yoshimura Team Director
“It’s a victory for Yoshimura, for the SERT but also for Suzuki. It’s an honour to represent this brand and a great responsibility. We had a lot of pressure on our shoulders but the success at the 24 Heures Motos is a reward for our work. We had worked a lot beforehand to prepare for the race and the whole team was looking forward to the result. So this nice victory is very important. The SERT gave us the number 1, the aim is clearly to keep it in 2021 in this very competitive and rewarding championship. Our four riders and team crews did a perfect job through the weekend and we got a valuable victory because of everyone’s efforts. The Suzuki GSX-R1000 has been strong and reliable and it made the whole race really smooth. We had no issues today and we really had a perfect race.”
The Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar entry of Jeremy Guarnoni, Erwan Nigon and David Checa crossed the line eight-laps behind the 855-lap tally of the victors to claim second place for Kawasaki
BMW Motorrad Team were a further five-laps behind to round out the podium after an event that significantly tested the whole squad and sets them up for a strong challenge for the title.
Markus Reiterberger – BMW Motorrad
“I felt very honoured to ride at the start. Even walking to the bike was good, and when I pulled away it was really good. I really tried not to let the tyres cool and to save fuel but the tyres were still not right up to temperature, which really surprised me, as it was really hot. The front wheel ultimately folded in on me in the penultimate corner and I skidded into the gravel. I then did two more laps on the damaged bike, but then had to come into the pits. I feel sorry for the whole team that I made this mistake. In the end, the crash was not that bad. The main problem was the technical issues. Once those had been resolved, we were basically flawless for the rest of the 24 hours. I would like to thank the whole team for their hard work, and my team-mates for persevering so valiantly.”
Yoshimura Suzuki spent the least time in the pits of any team, just under 33-minutes spent in the pits over the 24-hour duration compared to the 42-minutes of the second place getters and 47-minutes for BMW Motorrad in third. The starting problems for F.C.C. TSR Honda France saw them spend a total of 1hr-25-minutes in the pits.
Bridgestone took first blood in the tyre war and Honda took opening honours in the Superstock battle with the National Motos squad of Stéphane Egéa, Guillaume Antiga and Kevin Trueb finishing fifth outright.
In the hours after the race though fourth placed Bolliger Team Switzerland was removed from the results after technical checks revealed a non-conforming fuel capacity. The declassification promoted National Motos Honda to 4th place and also improves the standing of those finishing lower than fourth all up by one position.
The 44th edition of the 24 Heures Motos – the first race of the 2021 FIM EWC – lived up to its promise to be an exciting, action-packed race. The drama started almost immediately on the Dunlop turn with a crash involving three teams, Wójcik Racing Team, Team 18 Sapeurs-Pompiers CMS Motostore and RAC41 ChromeBurner.
The action taken by Hugo Clère, a rider of the Yamaha 18, to help Sylvain Barrier, stuck underneath the Wojcik bike which had caught fire, won him the Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy. Wójcik Racing Team continued the race with two riders, Balint Kovacs and Artur Wielebski, and finished 30th.
The 24 Heures Motos was the opening round of what is scheduled to be a four-round 2021 FIM Endurance World Championship. The second round is the 12 Hours of Estoril on July 17, then the famous Bol d”or back in France on the weekend of September 19.The finale is also the cherry on top of the FIM EWC calendar, the fabled Suzuka 8 Hour, is slated to tale place on the first weekend of November.
2021 FIM Endurance World Championship
24 Heures Motos Results
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