Reigning Champions GMT94 Yamaha take first Bol d’Or win since 2007
Josh Hook in F.C.C. TSR take sixth
National Motos Honda finishes 27th, Cudlin choses not to race
Broc Parkes and YART Yamaha forced to withdraw
Reigning champion GMT94 Yamaha has won the Bol d’Or for the first time since 2007. The French factory-backed team clinched the victory ahead of Wepol BMW Motorrad Team by Penz13 and Honda Endurance Racing.
The latter two teams staged a historic finish, with a duel between Sébastien Gimbert and female rider Lucy Glöckner of Völpker NRT48 Schubert Motors by ERC.
The 81st Bol d’Or will go down in history as the only EWC race in which a female rider waged an unstinting battle for a podium spot with a factory-backed rider.
Lucy Glöckner, 27, a familiar face on the IDM (German Superbike championship) circuit, went all out to stop Honda Endurance Racing getting on the podium at the Bol d’Or. 673 laps into the race, Sébastien Gimbert wrested the third place after a suspenseful duel a few minutes from the finish, passing the chequered flag less than a second ahead of Lucy Glöckner.
The other headline event of the opening round of the FIM EWC was that the reigning FIM EWC champion started the new season by sweeping to victory. GMT94 Yamaha combined the bonus points awarded at the 8-hour and 16-mark (20 points in all) with the 40 points allocated to the race winner, zooming to the top of the 2017-2018 FIM EWC standings.
GMT94 Yamaha’s riders David Checa, Niccolò Canepa and Mike Di Meglio were in the lead practically throughout, and finished 9 laps ahead of the competition despite running out of fuel at one point.
Christophe Guyot – GMT94 Yamaha
“The race was of a rare intensity. We had many successive opponents to achieve our victory goal. The energy, talent and determination of the riders, mechanics and a dedicated team were the key to this victory.”
David Checa – GMT94 Yamaha
“For me, every victory is special, it is sharing. We have often experienced problems and bad luck, but here everything works wonderfully. For the first race of the 2017/2018 season we make a full card with the 60 possible points, between those granted for the victory and those given during the passages at 8 and 16 hours of racing. It is the result of a lot of work. We have never given up on any circumstances.”
Niccolò Canepa – GMT94 Yamaha
“We did not let go, we gave ourselves 110% and in the end it paid and we won. Last year was a great year, the bike is always better at each race, my teammates are very fast, we had an incredible season and I am really happy.”
Mike Di Meglio – GMT94 Yamaha
“We knew that in coming here you had to score big points. We had to stay focused. It was a fantastic race, we gave everything from start to finish, first to get points every 8 hours then for victory. It was very hard during the night and it was really a sharing between the three riders and the team.”
Wepol BMW Motorrad Team by Penz13 got on the second step of the podium after an epic race. Having dropped to the bottom of the standings after a problematic refuelling stop, Markus Reiterberger, Alessandro Polita and Danny Webb climbed back up at speed to ease into the Top 5.
Markus Reiterberger – Wepol BMW Motorrad Team by Penz13
“I’m really happy. Second place at the Bol d’Or is a result none of us had expected. We hoped for it and we knew we could get it if everything worked well. In the beginning, we had a problem with the starter relay and dropped several positions but we fought back and in particular my both team-mates from road racing did a brilliant job. It all worked really well and our consistency was the key to success in this race. It was superb team work and a really great weekend.”
Alex Polita – Wepol BMW Motorrad Team by Penz13
“I’m really happy, because the Bol d’Or was my first endurance race and the first on a race track in a long time. We had a problem in the night practice and it was difficult to ride in the dark, but in the race we could push with our team mates. To finish on the podium here makes me really happy.”
Danny Webb – Wepol BMW Motorrad Team by Penz13
“It is an amazing feeling, to stand up there and see all the people and get to spray champagne; it’s an incredible feeling. I haven’t had this for a while and to do it at World Championship level is just incredible. We were an outstanding team, Alex, Reiti and the whole team. I want to say thank you for the opportunity.”
Honda Endurance Racing had to fight hard to score third spot on the podium at the tail end of the race. Electronic issues and a faulty alternator had slowed down Grégory Leblanc, Sébastien Gimbert and Yonny Hernández. Völpker NRT48 Schubert Motors by ERC, the team comprising Lucy Glockner, Stefan Kerschbaumer and Jan Bühn, finished 4th, missing the podium by a hair’s breadth.
Another S 1000 RR was in 5th place: IV Racing BMW CSEU’s bike, with riders Karel Hanika, Fabrizio Lai and Julian Mayer.
F.C.C. TSR Honda France started from 3rd position on the grid and wrested the lead from GMT Yamaha on Sunday morning. But at around 11am, a crash dashed the hopes of victory of the Japanese team backed by Bridgestone (and, as of this weekend, by Honda France). Josh Hook, Alan Techer and Freddy Foray finished 6th.
Josh Hook – F.C.C. TSR Honda France
“The Bol D’Or done and dusted for @fim_ewc_official 17/18 season. After leading the race and fighting for the win for the first 22hours of the race I am disappointed to come away with P6. Big thanks to F.C.C. TSR Honda France and my team mates @freddyforay @alantecher89 – The whole team has done an amazing job and we have proven we are one of the leading teams in the championship. Thanks to all for your support, we bagged some valuable points this weekend and we will be back fighting for the win next year in Le’mans.”
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team was back in top form on the new GSX-R 1000. However, this being the machine’s debut run in a 24-hour race, several mechanical and electronic issues cropped up. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team finished 7th.
The fastest Superstock squad, Tati Team Beaujolais Racing, picked up a superb 8th place, with riders Julien Enjolras, Julien Pilot and Kevin Denis running a flawless race. 9th past the finish line (2nd in the Superstock class), Team 33 Accessoires Louit Moto (Kawasaki) was three laps behind Tati Team Beaujolais Racing. After a smooth climb back up into the Top 10, Junior Team Le Mans Sud Suzuki was the third Superstock team at the race finish.
This edition of the Bol d’Or proved particularly gruelling for both the riders and the machines. Only 29 of the 59 competing teams made it past the chequered flag. More than one team in the lead was forced to withdraw early on in the race. After taking the lead for Kawasaki SRC, Randy de Puniet rode long enough to post the fastest lap of the race (a 1’58.386) before returning to the pits with a broken engine on the ZX 10R #11.
Other favourites too were forced to throw in the towel. YART Yamaha withdrew around 9pm after sliding down to the tail end of the standings following Kohta Nozane’s crash.
Broc Parkes – YART Yamaha
“Of course it is disappointing to come away not having finished the race, but Endurance racing is like this, it is always unexpected. I felt really good going in to the race, the bike is really fast, my teammates are on good form and the team is working well so we had everything in place to be a serious challenger at the front for the podium. Unfortunately Kohta crashed, but he was able to get up and bring the bike back, I’m glad he was ok. We had electronic issues come on and off making it almost impossible to ride consistently quickly without being very dangerous so it was the right decision to retire. We’ll be back in Le Mans and fighting at the front!”
Team Tecmas BMW featured in the leading pack for quite some time, then had to abandon the track during the night with a broken engine. Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers was the first to withdraw, 10 laps into the race, with a broken engine.
Maco Racing also gave up after the first quarter of the race, followed by multiple withdrawals as the night wore on. Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences, Moto Ain CRT and RAC41 Honda crashed out; Ecurie Chrono Sport, WSB Endurance and Atomic Motosport had engine breakdowns, and Team April Moto Motors Events had electrical and electronic issues.
Damian Cudlin also shared on media that he chose not to race, citing preparation not going to plan being the reason.
Damian Cudlin – National Motos Honda – on social media
“The BoldOr preparation didn’t go to plan this year, so I chose not to race, but I’m glad I had the full support of my friends and sponsors, especially Heath Griffin- who had my back all weekend. We’ll be back…”
68,000 spectators watched the 81st edition of the Bol d’Or on the Castellet circuit, a 5 per cent increase over last year.