GMT Yamaha wins inaugral 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring
Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences wins Superstock Championship by one point
Alex Cudlin second with SERT, Broc Parkes fourth with YART and Josh Hook of F.C.C. TSR Honda 21st

Riders head for the bike to start the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring
Riders head for the bike to start the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring

GMT Yamaha won the first edition of the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring, pulling off a hat-trick in the FIM EWC, the fourth round of the World Endurance Championship and the third ranked victory for the Yamaha GMT94 team.

It allowed the team to close the gap to a single point off the lead of the World Championship, which will be played out now, at the 8 Hours of Suzuka.

GMT Yamaha and YART Yamaha battling it out
GMT Yamaha and the YART Yamaha which included Aussie rider Broc Parkes battling it out

David Checa, Niccolò Canepa and Mike Di Meglio won the day on their GMT94 Yamaha, beating reigning champion Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Alex Cudlin) and Honda Endurance Racing (Julien da Costa, Sébastien Gimbert and Freddy Foray) – the latter won their first podium of the season.

Packed with high drama and incidents, the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring turned out to be a suspense-filled race from start to finish. After Vincent Philippe’s masterly holeshot for Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, two Australians – Josh Hook of F.C.C. TSR Honda and Broc Parkes of YART Yamaha Official EWC Team – wrestled each other for the lead.

Honda Endurance Racing leading Suzuki Endurance Racing Team
Honda Endurance Racing leading Suzuki Endurance Racing Team

Following a cautious start due to the high track temperature, GMT94 Yamaha surged into the front-end fray, while Suzuki Endurance Racing Team slipped back after briefly going off track and then getting a puncture.

A little over three hours into the race, fate dealt its first blow: F.C.C. TSR Honda got held back by engine shutdown issues. F.C.C. TSR Honda lost a lot of time in the pits, and finished the race in 21st place, with Australian rider Josh Hook later commenting:

Josh Hook

“No luck in this race, with a electrical problem in the third hour of the race ruling us out of a potential podium. I got the fastest lap of the race and also circuit lap record. We take the positives away from this weekend and roll onto Suzuka. Massive thanks to TSR for preparing a winning machine!”

The GMT94 Yamaha
The GMT94 Yamaha

Then, when it looked like YART Yamaha Official EWC Team and GMT94 Yamaha would be battling for the win, with just over two hours to go, Broc Parkes experienced an issue with the rear of the YART bike and was forced to pit.

After a quick check, he was sent back out, but the issue wasn’t resolved and the Australian returned to the pits for more repairs to his R1. This effectively robbed the YART team of any chance they had of fighting for their first victory since 2009, the team re-joining the race down the field.

The road to the podium opened up for four teams that had been lying in wait – Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, Maco Racing, Bolliger Team Switzerland and Honda Endurance Racing. Maco Racing was unable to grasp the nettle because of a crash, and Bolliger Team Switzerland got held back by electrical issues.

The Suzuki Endurance Racing Team ended up taking the runner up slot and retain a 1-point championship lead
The Suzuki Endurance Racing Team ended up taking the runner up slot and retain a 1-point championship lead

In the end, the contest for runner-up position played out between Suzuki Endurance Racing Team and Honda Endurance Racing.

Said Hébrard – SERT

“I am so happy! This result rewards all the team’s work and a few months in a difficult situation following the loss of Anthony Delhalle, and with team chief Dominique Meliand still in convalescence. We are working a lot at the workshop and during the races, all members are giving their best and everybody inside the SERT
team are all deserving this position!”

Suzuki Endurance Racing Team - Image by David Reygondeau
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team – Image by David Reygondeau

SERT prevailed, thereby holding on to its place at the top of the FIM EWC 2016-2017 provisional standings, with a mere one-point lead over GMT94 Yamaha ahead of the championship grand finale: the end-July Suzuka 8 Hours.

Christophe Guyot – GMT Yamaha

“We can be very happy to be back on the fight for title. The interesting thing is we only miss one point compare to the SERT on the championship ranking. The team who will finish in front of the other will get the title. We will prepare the 8 hours Suzuka race with a lot of determination and motivation. The race here in Slovakia was very difficult. Temperatures were blistering. Riders, tires but also the bike endured a lot. But in spite of that, we were able to keep an high pace. It was difficult because we knew that we were engaged in the title fight since our victory at 8 hours of Oschersleben but at the same time it’s very hard for champions to not think to the victory, but today we cannot risk too much. Today the right behavior to have was to keep an eye on the bike who was behind us in the championship and not on the YART. It was also important to never give up, and to stay on the victory fight. We were able to do that.The fight with the YART was one more time unbelievable with tricky overtakes. We had to be quick but at the same time think to the championship. Well done to our riders who were always fast by not making any mistakes. We are very proud of our team.”

GMT94 Yamaha celebrating on the podium
GMT94 Yamaha celebrating on the podium – Christophe Guyot, David Checa, Niccolò Canepa, Mike Di Meglio
David Checa – GMT Yamaha

“It was a great race. I was always confident we could win it even when we were a couple of seconds behind YART. I always thought winning was possible and all the mechanics, the team and my teammates never gave up this idea, even if the World Championship was the main goal. I’m really happy to have won the race because it was what I really wanted !”

Niccolò Canepa – GMT Yamaha

“It’s fantastic ! We gave everything during the race. Dunlop tires worked perfectly all the way. It was a tough race and thank you to Dunlop and the team for all the hard work. It’s wonderful to be a contender for the world title.”

Mike Di Meglio – GMT Yamaha

“The fight with YART was pretty intense. I’m very happy because it is my third victory in a row in three endurance races with Yamaha GMT94. We couldn’t ask for more !”

YART Yamaha
The YART Yamaha Racing Team suffered a late game technical issue which ended their lead

Determined to finish strongly, Parkes, Fritz and Nozane all put in good final stints towards the end of the race to make sure that the YART team finished in a strong fourth position.

This sees the YART Yamaha Official EWC Team move up to third in the championship standings with 105 points, 27 points behind the leaders with 30 up for grabs in Suzuka.

Broc Parkes – YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“We are really disappointed considering we had a good pace all weekend and all three riders were really strong. To have that issue was disappointing because we had a better pace than GMT94 all weekend. It was the first time that we felt confident we could take the fight to GMT94, all three riders had a better pace and the Bridgestone tyres were working excellent in the hot conditions. That’s racing sometimes, it happens, but hopefully in the future our luck will change and things will go our way one time. We will now put all our efforts into trying to secure the best result possible at Suzuka.”

Kohta Nozane – YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“The end result was not an indication of the true pace we had. We were having a great battle for the victory with GMT94 before we had the issue. I enjoyed the fight with David Checa at the front and the whole team was very strong here, so it is disappointing to come away without the victory, but we remain positive and look forward to fighting for the victory in Suzuka.”

Marvin Fritz – YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“We had a really good weekend, everyone has been very strong and fast. Broc and Kohta did really good first stints, unfortunately I made two little mistakes in my first stint, but I caught up to GMT94 again. We then took the lead and a gap. My second stint was really good, I opened up a 20 second gap to Di Meglio, but then we got the issue with the bike. We have to be positive, we had a good weekend, we have a really strong team and now we will focus on Suzuka to ensure we get the best result possible there.”

Völpker NRT48 Schubert Motors wins EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy
Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences wins Superstock Championship
Volpker NRT48 Schubert Motors
The Volpker NRT48 Schubert Motors winning Superstock team included Kerschbaumer, Buhn and Puffe.

Fifth past the finish line at the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring, Völpker NRT48 Schubert Motors by ERC snatched the Superstock victory in Slovakia and carried off the EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy for the first time, winning a €4,000 cash prize. The squad triumphed over AM Moto Racing Compétition and Tati Team Beaujolais Racing at the 1st edition of the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring.

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Having emerged as the leading contender to win the EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy just over halfway into the race on the Slovakia Ring, Völpker NRT48 Schubert Motors by ERC also won a superb duel in the closing stages. With Stefan Kerschbaumer, Jan Bühn and Julian Puffe riding, the German team’s BMW #48 was 5th past the finish line, snatching the Superstock victory from Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences.

Volpker NRT48 Schubert Motors - 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring
Volpker NRT48 Schubert Motors – 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring
Jan Bühn – Volpker NRT48 Schubert Motors 

“It was a fantastic success for us. For the team, it was the first-ever victory in the Endurance World Championship, as it was for me as a rider so it was just awesome to stand on the top step of the podium after eight hours of racing. We were lying in third after the start and improved to second when another team in front of us crashed. From then on we had an intense battle with the #333 team. I made a little mistake at the pit stop that cost us a minute and was worried that we could miss victory because of that so I tried to make up the time back on the track. I succeeded, took the lead in my final stint and Stefan then brought the victory home. One key to success was, apart from the great team effort, the low fuel consumption of our BMW S 1000 RR. We have benefitted from that during the entire season: we have a lot of power, our bike was incredibly fast on the straight, and at the same time we are able to save a lot of fuel.”

Voelpker NRT48 Schubert Motors
Voelpker NRT48 Schubert Motors
Stefan Kerschbaumer – Volpker NRT48 Schubert Motors

“It was a tight battle at the very front. In the closing stages of the race, both us and our rivals on the #333 bike had to do another short notice pit stop. When we returned to the track, we were separated only by a few seconds but I managed to open the gap back to 15 seconds. When I crossed the line in first place, I was more than happy. The entire team did a fantastic job once again and we three riders have been consistant and on a similar fast pace. Our newcomer Julian was really great in his first ever endurance race. Despite the pain he suffered after a crash in free practice through no fault of his own, when another rider took him to the ground, he delivered super fast lap times. In addition, we could count on the low fuel consumption of our BMW S 1000 RR and were able to once more do the longest stints of all. All this together was key to victory.”

For Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences, 2nd place in Superstock was as good as a win, as it enabled them to carry off the FIM EWC World Cup with a mere one-point lead over Moto Ain CRT. Niccolò Rosso, Kevin Manfredi and Andrea Boscoscuro of the Italian squad No Limit Motor Team were on the third step of the podium in Slovakia.

AM Moto Racing Compétition finished 11th overall and won the EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy’s €3,000 runner-up cash prize. Alexandre Ayer and Jonathan Hugot completed the race as a two-man team on the French squad’s Kawasaki ZX-10R.

Another Kawasaki-mounted French team rounded off the EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy podium in Slovakia. Tati Team Beaujolais Racing (Julien Enjolras, Dylan Buisson and Kevin Denis) finished 13th despite a crash early on in the race, pocketing the €2,700 cash prize awarded to the second-runner up in the EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy.

The other prize-winners at the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring were Poland’s Wójcik FHP YART Racing Team, French teams Moto 39 Compétition and Moto Ain CRT, and Slovakian squads Maco Racing 2 and Motomaxx Racing Team.

The EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy – renewed this season by FIM EWC promoter Eurosport Events, the organizers of individual FIM EWC races and tyre manufacturer Dunlop – gives backing to Dunlop-shod private teams that do not benefit from direct support from a manufacturer.

8 Hours of Slovakia Ring 2017 EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy final standings
8 Hours of Slovakia Ring 2017 EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy final standings
Voelpker NRT48 Schubert Motors wins EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy
Voelpker NRT48 Schubert Motors wins EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy
8 Hours of Slovakia Ring Superstock Results
  1. Voelpker NRT48 Schubert-Motors by – 08:02:54.215
  2. Yamaha Viltaïs Experience – 08:03:09.973
  3. No Limits Motor Team – 08:01:57.276
  4. AM Moto Racing Competition – 08:03:08.863
  5. GERT 56 by rs speedbikes – 08:02:31.612
  6. Tati Team Beaujolais Racing – 08:02:46.331
  7. Exteria Racing Team – 08:02:07.717
  8. Moto 39 Competition – 08:03:17.668
  9. MOTO AIN CRT – 08:02:23.410
  10. MACO RACING 2 – 08:03:08.403
  11. motomaxx Racing Team – 08:02:39.983
No Limits Motor Team
The number three finishing No Limits Motor Team bike

Next race: the 2016-2017 FIM EWC final round – the 40th anniversary of the Suzuka 8 Hours in Japan on 30 July.

8 Hours of Slovakia Ring Overall Results
Pos. Team – Cat. – Laps – Time
  1. GMT94 YAMAHA – EWC – 223 – 08:01:09.914
  2. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team – EWC – 222 – 08:01:47.418
  3. Honda Endurance Racing – EWC – 222 – 08:02:02.967
  4. YART – YAMAHA – EWC – 222 – 08:03:02.629
  5. Voelpker NRT48 Schubert-Motors – SST – 219 – 08:02:54.215
  6. Yamaha Viltaïs Experience – SST – 219 – 08:03:09.973
  7. Team LRP Poland – EWC – 218 – 08:01:22.730
  8. Bolliger Team Switzerland – EWC – 218 – 08:01:27.250
  9. MACO RACING Team – EWC – 215 – 08:01:10.001
  10. No Limits Motor Team – SST – 215 – 08:01:57.276
  11. AM Moto Racing Competition – SST – 215 – 08:03:08.863
  12. GERT 56 by rs speedbikes – SST – 214 – 08:02:31.612
  13. Tati Team Beaujolais Racing – SST – 213 – 08:02:46.331
  14. Bertl K. Racing Team – EWC – 213 – 08:02:55.790
  15. Exteria Racing Team – SST – 209 – 08:02:07.717
  16. Team Rabid Transit – EWC – 207 – 08:03:06.200
  17. Wójcik FHP YART Racing Team – EWC – 206 – 08:03:14.800
  18. Moto 39 Competition – SST – 206 – 08:03:17.668
  19. MOTO AIN CRT – SST – 202 – 08:02:23.410
  20. EVA RT WEBIKE TRICK STAR – EWC – 201 – 08:02:23.503
  21. F.C.C. TSR Honda – EWC – 197 – 08:01:11.689
  22. MACO RACING 2 – SST – 197 – 08:03:08.403
  23. motomaxx Racing Team – SST – 177 – 08:02:39.983
  24. Motobox Kremer – EWC – 172 – 08:03:43.904
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team - Image by David Reygondeau
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team – Image by David Reygondeau
FIM EWC Championship Team Standings
  1. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team – 132
  2. GMT94 Yamaha – 131
  3. YART – Yamaha – 105
  4. Team SRC Kawasaki – 92
  5. Maco Racing Team – 87
  6. F.C.C. TSR Honda – 84
  7. Yamaha Viltaïs Experience – 66
  8. Moto Ain CRT – 65
  9. Tati Team Beaujolais Racing – 65
  10. EVA RT Webike Trick Star – 54
  11. Honda Endurance Racing – 42
  12. Bolliger Team Switzerland – 42
  13. Voelpker NRT48 Schubert-Motors – 42
  14. AM Moto Racing Competition – 21
  15. No Limits Motor Team – 20
  16. Team 3ART Yam’Avenue – 18
  17. GERT 56 by rs speedbikes – 17
  18. Team LRP Poland – 14
  19. Rac 41 Honda – 13
  20. Team R2CL – MKS – Partelya – 12