GMT Yamaha won the 24 Heures Motos after a relentless battle against YART Yamaha Official EWC Team. Team SRC Kawasaki rounded off a podium with three tyre manufacturers represented: Dunlop, Bridgestone and Pirelli. 74,500 spectators watched the suspenseful race on the Bugatti circuit.
GMT94 Yamaha pulled off an exceptional performance after wresting the lead in the race at 11am today. David Checa, Niccolò Canepa and Mike Di Meglio completed 860 laps, finishing with a less-than-20s lead over Broc Parkes, Marvin Fritz and Kohta Nozane for the YART Yamaha Official EWC Team. Yamaha last won at Le Mans in 2009 with YART, and in 2005 with GMT94.
This 40th edition of the 24 Heures Motos will be remembered for the amazing performance and endurance of the two factory-backed Yamaha squads, who dominated the proceedings for nearly the entire duration of the race. After a lengthy spell in the lead, YART Yamaha Official EWC Team gave in to insistent pressure from GMT94 Yamaha in the late stages of the race.
David Checa – GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team
“I don’t think I’ve ever done a 24hr race like this, it was incredible. I have to say congratulations to YART, their riders made it a Superbike race that lasted for 24hrs, which is not usual! When we knew Niccolò was not feeling well we decided to continue to ride until the morning because the rhythm was so high and we didn’t want the risk to be exhausted at the end. In the morning we decided to push, we made nearly a minute riding but then lost it also nearly in the garage. In the end we managed it and for me it was an incredible race. We never gave up. It shows everyone that the R1 is fast and works well, to be 12 laps ahead shows what the bike is capable of, and also what the Dunlops can do.”
Broc Parkes – YART Yamaha Official EWC Team
“From a team perspective I think we did a great job, unfortunately we didn’t win the race but we only lost five points to GMT over the whole weekend. We showed that as a team we are very strong and we led over 20 hours of the 24 hour race. We just missed out a little bit at the end. We knew this would be one of the hardest races for us, the eight hour races will be better and riding at circuits that the other two will know. The positive is we performed really well, now we can look forward to the next races and we are not too bad on points. Congratulations to my teammates who did a great job.”
Their unstinting battle enabled the two teams to finish 12 laps ahead of Team SRC Kawasaki, who placed 3rd at this edition of the 24 Heures Motos, with Randy de Puniet, Fabien Foret and Mathieu Gines in the saddle. After being slowed down by a crash and a few technical issues, SRC Kawasaki finished with a narrow 45-second lead over Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Alex Cudlin), also slowed by crashes.
SERT, the winner of the Bol d’Or, the first round of the FIM EWC 2016-2017, still tops the world championship standings, three-points ahead of Team SRC Kawasaki and GMT94 Yamaha.
SERT riders Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Alex Cudlin crossed the line just-off the podium with a total of 848 laps completed following a difficult and emotional event close-to the team’s headquarters – and hearts – at the Circuit Bugatti. In memory of Anthony Delhalle, the team’s long-standing rider, who succumbed to injuries during testing last month, the team raced throughout, despite suffering a couple of slip-offs during the night when Masson clipped another rider. Then, following a quick pit-stop, Masson slipped-on oil and the team had to climb back-up the ranks again.
When Cudlin took over the # 1 Suzuki GSX-R1000, SERT was ninth, but then the team made an amazing climb through the field with every rider change throughout the night moving SERT into third place when the sun rose on Sunday morning after a close-fight with the Honda FCC team – and then SRC Kawasaki – who like SERT suffered a crash. To get as much chance as possible to reach the podium, the team decided to double the stints by Philippe and Masson, but they couldn’t quite make-up the time lost in the pits, finishing just 44 seconds from the podium.
“Well Le Mans 24 hour is finished for another year. This year we placed 4th. A few issues during the race halted our chances of a podium finish, but the important thing is we are still Leading the Endurance World Championship with 3 rounds to go. A huge thank you to SERT for welcoming me into the team and a very good job by my team mates Étienne Masson and Vincent Philippe for a great race. I look forward to Oschersleben 8 hour in 4 weeks time.”
F.C.C. TSR Honda ran a flawless race and finished 5th. Though the excellent performance of riders Gregg Black, Damian Cudlin and Arturo Tizon was somewhat overshadowed by the front-end duels, it enables the squad to remain in the running for the title as current 4th place holder in the overall standings.
With a 6th place finish, Tati Team Beaujolais Racing was the top Superstock. Julien Enjolras, Dylan Buisson and Kevin Denis ran a faultless race on their Kawasaki ZX-10R. They also won the EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy, which netted them a €5,000 prize. With a 7th place finish, the 2nd Superstock, Moto Ain CRT, won the EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy runner-up prize. After leading the category for a good portion of the race, Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences lost ground because of an oil leak problem and finished 3rd Superstock and 9th overall behind Maco Racing Team. Another Superstock team, AM Moto Racing, rounded off the Top 10.
Handicapped from the start by a chain problem, Honda Endurance Racing finished 11th, ahead of Japanese team Eva RT Webike Trick Star. Another favourite, Tecmas BMW, also had a rocky time of it, and finished 28th.
The 40th edition of the race in the presence of Susumu Yamashita, Chairman of Mobilityland and owner of the Suzuka circuit, saw a few records smashed. Randy de Puniet broke the lap record with a 1’36.408 lap. The race also witnessed a new record distance of 860 laps in 24 hours, and the narrowest gap of its history at the finish (19s 819): proof of the sheer intensity of Endurance racing.
The frenzied pace was hard on riders and bikes alike, and quite a few threw in the towel. After an excellent start in the Top 10, Bolliger Team Switzerland dropped back, then withdrew altogether with an electronics problem on Sunday morning, while Team April Moto Motors Events quit the race in the early evening of Saturday when the gearbox on its Honda CBR1000RR broke.
Mechanical breakdowns also forced EVO IVRacing BMW CSEU, WSB Endurance, Ecurie Chrono Sport and Starteam 67 to withdraw.
24 Heures Motos Race Results – 2017 Le Mans 24 Hour
GMT Yamaha Official EWC Team – Yamaha YZF-R1 – 860 laps 24:04:27
YART Yamaha Official EWC Team- Yamaha YZF-R1 – 860 laps +19.819
Team SRC Kawasaki – 848 laps +12 lps
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team – 848 laps +12 lps
F.C.C. TSR Honda – 843 laps +17 lps
Tati Team Beaujolais Racing – 837 laps +23 lps
Moto AIN CRT – Yamaha YZF-R1 – 834 laps +26 lps
Maco Racing Team – Yamaha YZF-R1 – 831 laps +29 lps
Their will to stay the course, their ability to pick themselves back up after the toughest of ordeals, and the motivation of the entire team, faithful to the spirit of Endurance so dear to Anthony Delhalle: these were the reasons behind the jury’s decision to award the first ‘Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy’ to the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, who finished the 24 Heures Motos in 4th place.
The Suzuki Endurance Racing Team had to come to grips with the demise of their rider Anthony Delhalle a few weeks before the second round of the FIM EWC. Despite the shock of his untimely death and the absence of team manager Dominique Méliand, an iconic figure who has withdrawn from the circuit for a few months for health reasons, the entire squad banded together in a fine demonstration of the spirit of Endurance.
Anthony Delhalle’s wife Jessie gave away the first trophy to the whole team, represented on the podium by riders Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Alex Cudlin, and by Dominique Hébrard, SERT’s team manager at Le Mans.
The ‘Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy’ will be given out after each FIM EWC championship race to keep the sporting spirit and character of a great rider of the calibre of Anthony Delhalle alive on the racing circuit for a long time to come.
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