The Japanese-backed F.C.C. TSR Honda France team have clinched victory at Le Mans, ahead of Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar and Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, with SERT continuing to lead the championship standings with a 40-point lead.
Three different constructors and three different tyre manufacturers stood on the 2020 24 Heures Motos podium. Bridgestone-shod F.C.C. TSR Honda France notched up their second win at Le Mans with riders Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Mike di Meglio.
At the end of the first eight hours of the 43rd edition of the 24 Heures Motos, F.C.C. TSR Honda France were still holding on to first place and scored the 10 bonus points awarded after the first third of the race. The team spent the whole night at the front of the pack, maintaining the lead over their rivals, to collect a further 10-point bonus at the end of the 16th hour. During the night, Di Meglio even set the race lap record with 1’36.985.
The trio of riders did not make any mistakes during this picture-perfect race and eventually crossed the line taking the chequered flag to win the 24-hour race.
Making their first outing on the track using Michelin tyres, Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar defended their second place to the last thanks to Jérémy Guarnoni, Erwan Nigon and David Checa. They finished one lap ahead of Dunlop-shod Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Etienne Masson, Gregg Black and Xavier Simeon), who held second on hour four, before settling into third overnight.
Unfortunately, two hours from the finish, Black was involved in a collision with a lapped rider and needed to come into the pits for a quick repair and after five minutes, the team – headed by Damien Saulnier – was back on track in third position; a position they held until the flag.
Following a crash early on in the race, YART Yamaha pushed hard to get back into the leading pack. Throughout the night, YART were the quickest team on track, taking advantage of the grip provided by the Bridgestone slicks in the cooler, dry conditions. Chasing down fourth position, Hanika powered through a wet Sunday morning before Canpea took over as the track dried out, closing the gap to BMW in fourth, catching and passing them with just over three hours to go.
YART’s podium chances were reignited with two hours remaining after a crash for the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, who were running second at the time. Despite the best efforts of the Czech rider, he couldn’t match the pace of the repaired Suzuki, who strapped on the dry tyres while Hanika was still on wets. YART Yamaha turned their attention to bringing the bike home in fourth, which they were able to successfully do. YART’s Karel Hanika, Marvin Fritz and Niccolò Canepa finished in fourth place, five laps behind the winners.
BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, solidly anchored in fifth place, lost their position after Ilya Mykhalchyk crashed at the tail end of the race. The factory BMW team were unable to cross the finish line and therefore not classified. The late-stage drama enabled F.C.C. TSR Honda France to shoot up to second place in the provisional championship standings.
It also benefited VRD Igol Pierret Experiences, who inherited fifth place, ahead of 3ART Best of Bike and Polish team Wójcik Racing Team, which included Australian Broc Parkes alongside Gino Rea and Axel Maurin – who became winners of the EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team now leads the standings from F.C.C. TSR Honda France, with Yamalube Yamaha EWC Official Team by YART third overall.
As a result of the fickle weather and constantly changing track conditions, the teams were under pressure for the entire 24 hours of this year’s race. Stray showers in the final stages of the race forced the teams into some chancy tyre strategy.
The race also threw the FIM Endurance Championship open. Five of the six factory teams are grouped together at the top of the provisional standings with less than a month to go for the final, which will play out on Saturday 26 September at the 12 Hours of Estoril in Portugal.
Ducati is missing from that group, despite some great performances by Team ERC Endurance all weekend long. The German team did their utmost to stay within striking reach of the leading pack at Le Mans. But they ran into a number of problems, running out of fuel, crashing more than once and experiencing technical issues, ultimately withdrawing at the end of the night with an electrical problem.
A BMW team won for the first time this season by dint of running a flawless race in the Superstock class with riders Stefan Kerschbaumer, Lucy Glöckner and Toni Finsterbusch. GERT56 by GS Yuasa’s win ahead of No Limits Motor Team and Moto Ain also throws open the FIM Superstock World Cup. Moto Ain, who finished on the podium despite multiple crashes, still top the provisional standings, but the points gaps are narrower on the eve of the final at Estoril.
Two other teams in this category lost their chance at the overall win. BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers and Wójcik Racing Team withdrew after several crashes.
The only Aprilia-mounted team, local squad and 24 Heures Motos regular Aprilia Le Mans 2 Roues, were given the Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy. After Nelson Major crashed, Eddy Dupuy and Marco Boué pushed on throughout the night as a two-man team to keep Aprilia in the race. The Aprilia #15 crossed the finish line in 27th place with Nelson Major making a comeback to take the pressure off his teammates. Their combative spirit won them the trophy launched in memory of Anthony Delhalle.
Josh Hook – F.C.C. TSR Honda France – P1
“It was an unbelievable race! We headed in this weekend with the new bike, the team had only few months to prepare it and we arrived here and got the job done. The new Honda Fireblade SP is amazing, straight out of the box it’s already competitive and surprised us all, riders and team, because we went faster on that bike than on any other bike directly. We kept on improving the bike and we arrived in Le Mans with a bike that was able to win the race, and we knew that from the start. A massive thank you to the team and our partners that worked so hard to get this new bike up and running. They deserve this victory and I’m happy that Freddy, Mike and myself were able to do it!”
Freddy Foray – F.C.C. TSR Honda France
“When you look back, you realise that the Fireblade made its first steps and won the race today. I just want to say a big thank you to this team for achieving an incredible performance because at the start of the week we didn’t know what to expect from a bike that started from scratch. Sharing this with the team and my teammates is fantastic too. I would like to congratulate Mike for riding really well and also Josh who was injured and made it through to the end. This is the second win we’ve shared here with the team and it’s great. A few weeks ago we didn’t even know if it would be possible to race because of the sanitary situation and today we are in Le Mans and we won the race, it’s just magic!”
Mike Di Meglio – F.C.C. TSR Honda France
“It was a crazy race! Right from the start I thought that the race pace would be much faster, and as we were starting from a new machine I was ready to accept to let my rivals go. I made a good start and I was second behind Gregg Black, who I quickly overtook at the end of the first lap, and then I started to ride with my own pace. I was quite surprised to see that I was able to build up a gap so I calmed things down a bit during the first stint. When a few competitors started to make mistakes with the tricky conditions, we chose to stay focused on our pace. Then during the night, I started to understand how the bike worked and to have fun with it, and I set quite good lap times. The team did a really fantastic job on the new Fireblade SP, we trained as much as we could during the whole Covid period and we won in the end, that’s great.”
Damien Saulnier (Team Manager) – Suzuki Endurance Racing Team – P3
“For sure, we are always aiming for victory but after this very complicated race, with changing weather conditions and many twists and turns, I’m really satisfied with this third place, especially since it’s a great deal for us in the championship. We are still leading the championship but it’s not over yet. There is still one race left and in Endurance you never know what can happen until you cross the finish line! Once again, I would like to thank all the technical staff and the riders for the great work they did. I am very proud of them. I would also like to thank the ACO and Eurosport Events for the organisation of this event in a complex sanitary context. And last but not least, a big thank you to our sponsors for their strong support despite the difficult year that we have all experienced.”
Karel Hanika – YART Yamaha EWC Official Team – P4
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow. We were, of course, aiming to be higher in the standings. I’m very sorry for the crash in my first stint. I felt good on the bike, and when the rain came, I didn’t feel like I was pushing, but when I arrived at the corner, there was more water than I expected and slipped off breaking the handlebar. We lost a lot of time, but from there we did our best, each rider was strong and the team did a great job. We were the fastest on the track, we could do 1:37s, but in the end, we did well to come back to P4 – not the podium we were hoping four but got good points. We are still able to fight for the championship in Estoril, but it’s tough to go to Portugal with no trophy here in Le Mans. I want to thank the team for standing by me, it’s my first crash in an Endurance race, but we all stuck together and did our best to recover. Bridgestone supported us a lot, Yamaha has made a great bike, so I thank everyone in our team, and we can bounce back stronger in Estoril.”
Broc Parkes – Wójcik Racing Team – P7
“We got it! Team 77 after 793 laps finish the legendary 24 Heures Motos race in a great seventh place! We also won the Dunlop Trophy. Unfortunately, after 14 hours of the competition due to the failure, the Polish National Team fell off 🇵🇱 777, but the boys also showed an amazing class. Thank you! See you in four weeks in Estoril at the FIM EWC final.”
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.