Broc Parkes and YART win despite electronic issues
Josh Hook and FCC TSR Honda podium
F.C.C. TSR Honda lead FIM EWC Championship
After winning the 24 Heures Motos in April, F.C.C TSR Honda once again proved it is in top form, picking up pole at the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring. In the saddle of the Honda CB 1000 RR #5, Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Alan Techer also held the FIM EWC championship lead after consistently great results.
YART Yamaha (Broc Parkes, Marvin Fritz and Max Neukirchner) were looking to collect big points in Slovakia after being forced to withdraw from the first two races of the season, the Bol d’Or and the 24 Heures du Mans.
Broc Parkes took the start from second on the grid, and was almost immediately hit with a threat to victory as an electronic issue meant traction and wheelie control were out of action.
The team worked hard through the repeated pit stops to try and re-set the bike but were finally able to ride above the problem. Parkes, Fritz and Neukirchner giving the ride of their career to deliver the win, without the added electronic support.
Broc Parkes – YART Yamaha Official EWC Team
“We’ve been so close so many times, and something has happened to take it away form us, so this is it, it was definitely our time! We had a problem with the electronics in the first stint, wheelie and traction control shut off, so we basically tried to turn the bike on and off during the pit stops which cost us some time but it didn’t fix it. In the end we had a great strategy with the fuel and GMT94 had to pit one more time so it worked for us. Big thanks to Mandy and Yamaha who put in so much effort over the winter, we’ve shown we are the fastest team on track so to put it on paper with a win is perfect. Also big thanks to the team who’ve worked as hard as us to get to this win, and of course to Marvin and Max who kept it on track and on top despite the electric problems we’ve had. It really is a team effort that makes this result so special. Thanks also to Bridgestone for the great rubber that helped us win.”
The only competition to come close were fellow Yamaha riders GMT94, though a different pit stop strategy gave YART the edge and the well deserved win.
The fight between the two factory Yamahas lasted until the very last minute of the race after nightfall in Slovakia. In the end, YART Yamaha emerged the winner with a 32-second lead over GMT94 Yamaha.
The Austrian Yamaha squad, which scored its first points this season, took over the lead 1 hr 30 minutes into the action and then ran a masterful race to win the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring.
Mandy Kainz – YART Yamaha Official EWC Team Manager
“Finally our moment is here, it’s been a long time coming and is so well deserved and nearly not a reality due to bad luck again here. After the first five laps all our electronics failed, adding huge pressure to the riders to stay at a competitive speed without the electronic support. I told them and the team to stay calm throughout the early hours of the race, we could maybe take more risks at the end if we needed to. So finally we arrive at our well deserved victory and it is an amazing feeling. First I need to thank my family who give up so much to let me focus on this dream. Now my team, no time team works so hard to be competitive and be here at this level. I also need to thank Yamaha and of course Bridgestone, without who this wouldn’t be possible. My rider Broc has been amazing. He has led every EWC race for a while at some point! He really deserves this, and also Marvin and Max, who all worked together to calmly make this happen.”
YART had managed to hold off a charging GMT94 Yamaha piloted by David Checa, Niccolò Canepa and Mike Di Meglio.
“The main goal is achieved and we are really happy. The fight for the world championship is more intense than ever. Congratulations to YART “7”, for this superb victory. A first special mention for Niccolò Canepa who had a very heavy fall on oil at over 200 km/h Tuesday night. His very damaged elbow allowed him to ride only a few minutes the next day and we were not sure he would be able to race. Courage and motivation, his start to the race was brilliant. Thanks to Niccolò for his commitment despite the pain. Mike Di Meglio and David Checa also gave everything. They shone by their performances. The mechanics were the fastest in the pits. We can be very proud of this team, which continues to progress. The second mention is for Dunlop, who, in 3 weeks, achieved the performance of providing all teams a tire adapted to this track that we had issues last year. The Yamaha R1 was very competitive and had worked perfectly. See you in Oschersleben.”
Considering the blistering pace set by the two machines in the lead, F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s Freddy Foray, Alan Techer and Josh Hook put up a good fight. In fact, Freddy Foray broke the race’s lap record with a time of 2:04.185. F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s 3rd-place finish at the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring allows the squad to hold on to top spot in the 2017-2018 FIM EWC provisional standings, though they are now just one point ahead of GMT94 Yamaha.
Another Fireblade ran a fine race to finish at the foot of the podium. After doing battle in the leading pack for a lengthy spell, Honda Endurance Racing came home ahead of BMW-mounted NRT48’s Kenny Foray, Stefan Kerschbaumer and Peter Hickman. Mercury Racing’s Karel Hanika, Jakub Smrž and Matej Smrž came home in sixth place.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team finished 7th, just behind Mercury Racing, in the aftermath of a troublesome race.
After being held up by a stop-and-go penalty because of a missing tyre marking in qualifying yesterday (20 tyre stickers are allocated in the EWC class and 13 in Superstock for an 8-hour race), SERT riders Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Gregg Black had braking problems similar to the ones they had experienced at Le Mans.
Bolliger Team Switzerland (Roman Stamm, Robin Mulhauser and Sébastien Suchet) finished 8th, ahead of Team SRC Kawasaki’s factory ZX-10R. The Kawasaki #11 had been tipped as a favourite, but after Randy de Puniet crashed early on in the race, the bike was repaired but then ran out of fuel 5 hours in, losing touch with the 5 teams in the lead.
F.C.C. TSR Honda retain the FIM Endurance World Championship points standings by a single point over GMT94 Yamaha. Thanks to strong performances this year also by the British based Honda Endurance Racing squad, Honda lead Yamaha by 20-points in the manufacturers ranking.
World Endurance next heads to Germany for the 8 Hours of Oschersleben on June 9th. The big one, the Suzuka 8 Hours will decide 2018 overall honours on the last weekend in July.
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