SERT win Le Mans 24 Hour | Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin takes the 2014 title!
The 37th 24 Heures Moto will probably leave a lasting mark for a long time on all those who saw it. First of all because an Open bike (BMW) and a Superstock (Kawasaki) upset the established order among the front-runners. Then because Suzuki ended an incredible series of wins by Kawasaki in world endurance 24-Hour races. And last but not least because 6 years on, Yamaha won the world title again, its third in endurance.
The start of the race was given on Saturday 20th September on the Le Mans Bugatti circuit. Almost right away there were a few collisions among the bikes that had just been unleashed. The works Yamaha entered by Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin (Checa, K. Foray, Gines), the world championship leader before this race, was one of the machines that had to make a quick pit stop for repairs.
There was a lot of action in the first hour, in particular by the very quick Sylvain Barrier who took the lead on his BMW Open run by the Penz 13.com. team opening up a gap of over 50 seconds on his nearest pursuer. He put on a stunning show that delighted the large crowd, which prefigures an all-out return by the German make in 2015.
At the end of his stint it was a Superstock that tried to hunt him down, the hard-charging Qatar Endurance Racing Team Kawasaki ridden con brio by Anthony West, which went to the front.
Thus, there was a never-before-seen hierarchy at the top of the time sheets of the 24 Heures Moto.
After the opening round of refuelling stops the favourites in endurance gave the overall classification a more conventional look. The works Kawasaki (Leblanc, Lagrive, Foret) took the lead at the end of the first hour.
The Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Philippe, Delhalle, Nigon) installed itself in second place until around 22h00 when Foret had a fall on his Kawasaki allowing Dominique Méliand’s men to take the lead. They stayed there till the chequered flag even if they never managed to build up a comfortable advance. Honda Racing, after Gimbert fell without injury or damage, set off in pursuit of the Yamaha trio who had a 2-lap lead.
Honda Racing (Gimbert, Da Costa, F. Foray) then ran into engine problems and had to retire handing second place to the no. 94 Yamaha that had made a mind-blowing comeback after falling down to 48th place on the first lap. In third was another Yamaha, the one entered by Monster Energy Yamaha YART (Parkes, Laverty, Morais).
There were no changes in this classification in the remaining 12 hours despite numerous technical problems and changing weather conditions.
Vincent Philippe then got it all wrong on his Suzuki at the start of a stint when he made a U-turn on the pits straight with his engine running thinking that he had a problem. He was handed a 30-second stop and go penalty, and he then made an unexpected stop to have the front wheel of his bike changed. This incident helped the riders of the second-placed Yahama believe that they had a chance of winning the race. Despite their talent and effort the Suzuki guys fought back and scored the manufacturer’s11th win at Le Mans. The GMT 94 team’s second place was good enough to give them the world championship title for the second time, 10 years after the first, the third in total for Yamaha.
After a no-holds-barred battle with the YART Yamaha (3e), the Qatar Endurance Racing Team (West, Cudlin, Al Naimi) finished fourth and first in Superstock. The Junior Team Le Mans Sud Suzuki (Guittet, Masson, Black) was also involved in the scrap for the category victory until Gibert had a minor fall on Sunday morning. Nonetheless, the points scored gave the team victory in the FIM Superstock World Cup.
The Honda National Motos squad (Junod, Tison, Four) put on a good performance thanks to the consistency of its riders and finished sixth despite several problems with its bike.
The Penz13.com BMW of de Pridmore, Barrier, Allerton came out on top in the Open category after providing a lot of on-track action in the first hour: it finished seventh overall.
Among the riders the 2014 EWC world title went to David Checa (ESP), Kenny Foray (FRA) and Mathieu Gines (FRA), the works Yamaha trio. In Superstock the winners were Baptiste Guittet (FRA), Etienne Masson (FRA) and Greg Black (FRA), the Suzuki Junior Team riders.
70 500 spectators attended the 24 Heures Moto. It was a small increase compared to 2013 (70 200), but it confirmed the revival of the 24 Heures Mot0.
There’s no doubt that in 2015 the return of the 24 Heures Moto to its original date – spring – will consolidate the success of the most important endurance race for bikes. This change has been asked for by the spectators who will be able to attend the 38th event in seven months – on 18-19 April 2015.
Vincent Philippe (Suzuki, winner of the 2014 24 Heures Moto): “This victory is a very emotional one for me as I haven’t won here for a long time – eleven years, in fact ! It’s been a difficult year for the team and from a personal point of view. I was asking myself how we could bring the bike home, but you have to understand that the race lasts twenty-four hours.”
Dominique Méliand (Team Manager du Suzuki Endurance Racing Team team manager, winner of the 2014 24 Heures Moto): “It’s a bit too early to start speaking about 2015. We’re going to savour this victory and celebrate! Then we’re going to sit down round a table with the people from Suzuki to talk. One thing’s sure: what just happened will open up some doors for us so it’s a good idea to start talking as quickly as possible.”
Christophe Guyot (Team manager of the Yamaha Racing GMT94 Michelin 2014 FIM World Endurance Champion team): “The title was almost done and dusted after eight hours (points were awarded after eight and sixteen hours). This being said we’re fighters and when the opportunity to win arose we tried to seize it. We gave Suzuki a few cold sweats and we’re proud of that. The title we’ve just clinched is very important for our three riders.”
Anthony West (1st in Superstock) : “It’s my first 24 Heures Moto and I’ve finished first! I’m delighted for the whole team who did a super job. I made a good start and I pushed as hard as I could, but I wasn’t expecting this. Maybe I was a bit over optimistic concerning my strength considering the difficulties hanging on in there for twenty-four hours. At 06h00 this morning I asked myself ‘what am I doing here?’ Finally, I’ll remember a really fantastic, wonderful experience. Our efforts paid off in the end.”
Sylvain Barrier, who recorded the fastest lap of the race on the BMW of Penz13.com Racing Team – “It was fantastic. We had a perfect bike to ride. I got ahead at the start without a second thought. We were just there to prepare the BMW project for next year.”
Yamaha Take 2014 World Endurance Championship Victory
The Yamaha Racing GMT94 Michelin Yamalube team has taken title victory in the 2014 FIM World Endurance Championship with the Yamaha YZF-R1. Riders David Checa, Kenny Foray and Mathieu Gines made the last race of the season count yesterday, working tirelessly through the night to score second on the podium in the gruelling 24Heures du Moto at Le Mans.
With several teams in the running for the title in the run up to last weekend’s race everything was to play for in the toughest road race in the world. The French team employed a brilliant strategy, working carefully through the practice and qualifying sessions to focus on their overall set up.
Having qualified in fifth position the team then dropped over 40 places in the first lap of the race when a crashing rider collided with David Checa. Luckily he was uninjured and the following incredible team effort then saw an unstoppable climb up the ranks. As the team rode through the night their skills and the abilities of the Yamaha YZF-R1 where put to the test as they swapped between rain and slick tyres to battle the changing elements. As dawn broke the team were securely in second place and held it to the race finish, closing the distance to the lead bike with every lap.
The podium finish delivered an impressive point score of 50 to take the team’s total to 141 points in the final standings, 37 ahead of their closest rivals.
David Checa – Yamaha Racing GMT94 – “To be on the gravel after 24 seconds of race and to be world champion after 24 hours really demonstrates how difficult the competition was! But I feel lucky to be here. That was a near miss – things could have changed dramatically! We made a very regular season. Even if we did not manage to get it, we were always aiming for victory and this world champion title is a great reward.”
Kenny Foray – Yamaha Racing GMT94 – “It is my fifth season with the GMT94 team and we’ve been expecting this moment from a very long time! It is the result of hard work and a close team with whom I feel really great. I will be happy to share this title with each member of the team, my family, my friends and all the people who were supporting us in the good moments and in the difficult ones during all those years.”
Mathieu Ginès – Yamaha Racing GMT94 – “My first season with the GMT94 ends on a high note. I knew that the team had a strong potential, I knew my teammates and Michelin before joining the team. I certainly do not regret my choice because it was an extraordinary human adventure with a fantastic technical staff.”
Christophe Guyot – Yamaha Racing GMT94 Team Manager – “I would just like to say that I am very happy for the riders, David Checa Kenny Foray and Mathieu Gines are top riders. The bike is really good and the team worked really hard every day since the beginning of the season to get this title. Many people are behind us, it is so important that everybody believes in the team, bike and riders. This is especially true in endurance, when you are in difficulties and you start from last position and three laps behind everybody else. You can’t do anything without top riders. For me all three 100% deserve the title, they are the best Endurance riders in the world, I am very proud of them for this achievement. I also need to say thank you to all at Yamaha for their support in helping us achieve this amazing result.”
Eric De Seynes – Operational Director, Yamaha Motor Europe – “This title rewards the quality of the involvement of a team, a spirit and professionalism that merged with the special features of Endurance. Yamaha was able to evolve in this championship thanks to a common motivation, to a bike, the R1, that has been significantly developed during the last three years. World Endurance is a production road-racing championship that allows us to operate our bikes in the hardest conditions and also to get closer to our customers. It is a beautiful image for the motorsport.”
FIM Endurance World Championship – Le Mans 24 Hours Race Results 2014
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team | Phillipe – Delhalle – Nigon | 812 laps
Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin | Checa – Foray – Gines | 2 laps
Monster Energy Yamaha YART | Parkes – Laverty – Morais | 8 laps
Qatar Endurance Racing Team | West – Cudlin – Al Naimi | 10 laps (First Superstock category machine home)
Junior Team LMS Suzuki | Guittet – Masson – Black | 12 laps
National Motos | Junod – Tizon – Four | 18 laps
Penz 13 Racing Team BMW | Pridmore – Barrier – Allerton | 20 laps (First Open category machine home)
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