SERT Suzuki wins Le Mans 24 Hour 2015
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The 38th 24 Heures Motos took place under the sun of the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans and Suzuki held the lead from the sixth hour and went on to win the Le Mans 24 Hour 2015 in front of 70,500 spectators.
The 8-time previous winner the 24 Hours Motos, Dominique Méliand – SERT team manager, did not hide his joy – “In Endurance, you have to manage the race, see what happens, set the pace according to the issues suffered by the opponents, take the least possible risks, and that is how we are on the top step of the podium at the finish. And our greatest strength is to have good riders and a team which always answers the call of duty and never gives up!”
Vincent Philippe confirmed the words of the person which everyone in the team calls ‘the boss’– “We are a tight-knit group and we knew that the package was capable of winning.”
Anthony Delhalle suffered an early fall in the race and then struggled throughout the race – “It was a painful race for me. I managed to do five laps before losing grip of the front tyre. I concentrated on holding the bike as much as possible so as not to go into the gravel trap too fast and to prevent greater damage. Then in the night I was sick. In the morning, and for the first time, I went to Dominique to tell him that I was not able to ride and my two team-mates finished the race.”
Coming from the Junior Team, Etienne Masson was emotional at the finish – “First race with the SERT and first victory, it’s a great feeling and the result of all the work we did this winter. I was afraid of not being up to scratch and I am very proud of what we have done!”
Gilles Stafler, SRC Kawasaki team manager, admits he was angry with Fabien Foret who fell early in the race, but he appreciated the effort of his three riders to fight back from thirtieth place to the second position, nine laps behind the leaders. “To prove to Fabien that we had no hard feelings towards him, we offered him to cross the finish line. Seen as we could not catch the Suzuki, we had to secure as many championship points as possible.” One of his riders, Gregory Leblanc, admits to not being fully satisfied: “I had come here to win, but such are the hazards of the race!”
“I appreciated Gilles’ gesture at the finish,” commented Fabien Foret. “For sure, to fall early in the race is difficult to live with for the rest of the team, and I apologized for this. I regret that because of this we were not able to live an intense battle with the SERT! ”
Team Bolliger Switzerland completes the podium after a very regular race, only bothered by a faulty sensor which caused them to lose a few laps. “Apart from a small problem, we can say that everything went like a Swiss watch! ” Said Horst Saiger.
Another fine performance came from the Junior Team Le Mans Sud Suzuki, which gave full satisfaction to its team manager Damien Saulnier: “We came here to win the class and we did it! The challenge was all the greater as the technical team was composed of new students. This means that we start from scratch each time. Hats off to the three riders Baptiste Guittet, Gregg Black and Romain Maitre who brought us to this fourth place overall and leader of the Superstock class.”
The GMT94 Yamaha of David Checa, Kenny Foray and Mathieu Ginès finished fifth after suffering some technical problems throughout the race as explained by team manager Christophe Guyot: “We had chosen not to use the anti-spin but, because of this, the power of the bike was damaging the transmission and we had to return to the pits several times to solve this problem. This significantly delayed us. Fortunately we ended up finding a solution. I have to applaud the bravery of our riders and especially of David Checa who rode although injured and showed a lot of courage.”
Eric De Seynes – Operational Director Yamaha Motor Europe – “First of all the bike is definitely well made. We have demonstrated that the bike was the fastest during practice and all through the first part of the race. Immediately YART was able to compete at the front. I discussed with Mandy and all the riders that we would keep a minimum of one second in our hands, so that we’d be sure. We didn’t want to risk a crash and even with this mentality we were fighting for the lead from second position.
“GMT did a very good job, because from the beginning the setting of the bike was really for endurance and the rhythm of the team was good enough to be in the top 4- 5. So a very steady race. All the issues we encountered with the bike were minor things but it cost us the podium. The endurance championship has two types of races. 8 hours and 24 hours. We knew that starting the season with a 24 hour race would be tougher, but if you realize that, after 8 hours we were in second and fourth position, then that’s a great result for a new bike entering the World Endurance Championship. We can be very proud of the results. It’s like when a new baby takes it’s first steps.
“We finished fifth and are fourth in the Championship standing overall. We got the points, we got the position and we learned a lot. We have to thank the engineers who developed the bike. The championship is very mature and being on that level of performance in the first race is very promising. We are very optimistic and trust in the future wins of the bike. All the teams and riders are very happy with the bike and feel very confident racing it. We have to work, fight and win.”
After almost twenty hours racing and working hard, Honda Racing team had to retire from the 24h Motos in Le Mans. Endurance specialists Julien Da Costa, Sébastien Gimbert and Freddy Foray worked relentlessly with the team to get the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP to the finish line of the 24h Motos race in Le Mans. Unfortunately, at 10:40 Honda Racing had to announce its retirement from the race when elements were found in the oil – increasing the risk of an engine failure on track. Honda Racing had qualified in third place on the grid of the 24h Motos race in Le Mans. Julien Da Costa started the race for the team and managed to take immediately second position. Then, a few minutes before the first pit stop, Honda Racing took the race lead.
The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP was able to do very long runs and performed better than any other bike on track in terms of fuel consumption. The team consequently had to stop less for refuelling and was able to build a gap. During the first six hours of the race, Julien Da Costa, Sébastien Gimbert and Freddy Foray found an excellent race pace, riding from second to first place regularly. Unfortunately, during the first phase of the night, a number of issues forced several unscheduled stops for the riders in the pits. The team worked relentlessly fixing the problems in order to get to the end of the race.
After these misfortunes, the Honda CBR1000R Fireblade SP was back on track and the riders started to gain places little by little, riding at an excellent pace again. The team had climbed back to 28th position when the bike stopped on track at around 10:00 in the morning. Sébastien Gimbert pushed the bike to the garage where, having tried to isolate the problem, the team was forced to retire. The team’s determination to get the bike to the finish line regardless of the race result means that every piece of data collected during the race will help for the rest of the 2015 Endurance World Championship and Honda Racing is now looking forward to Suzuka 8 Hours on 26 July.
Neil Tuxworth – Honda Racing – “We’re very disappointed on behalf of Honda and obviously on behalf of our riders and all the mechanics and staff because everybody worked so hard to be prepared for this race. We just seemed to have an endless amount of problems that we are going to have to look into and find out why they have happened. We are going to have a big meeting back at Honda and decide what direction we are going to go for Suzuka because obviously we have to make some changes to make sure we don’t have any of these issues when we get to that race.”
Steven Casaer – Honda Racing – “Today, what I want to remember is that the supposedly ‘old bike’ that is the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is absolutely competitive anyway. Besides, it allows us to have a great race strategy because it consumes far less fuel than all the other bikes. Here we had a lot of little problems – usually you get two or three per Endurance race, but today we had them all together, so let’s hope that now we’ll be done with trouble for the rest of the season!”
Gareth Jons, riding for BMW Motorrad France, finished in seventh place.
Alex Cudlin and the Qatar Endurance Team finished 15th.
The second round of the FIM EWC will take place on July 26th 2015 in Japan for the “Suzuka 8 Hours.”
Classification FIM World Endurance Championship
1. SUZUKI ENDURANCE RACING TEAM – Suzuki GSXR 1000 – 60pt
2. TEAM BOLLIGER SWITZERLAND – Kawasaki ZX 10R – 42pt
3. SRC KAWASAKI – Kawasaki ZX 10R – 41pt
4. JUNIOR TEAM LE MANS SUD SUZUKI – Suzuki GSXR 1000 – 34pt
5. GMT94 YAMAHA – Yamaha YZF-R1 – 33pt
6. TEAM TRAQUEUR LOUIT MOTO 33 – Kawasaki ZX 10R – 29pt
7. BMW MOTORRAD France TEAM PENZÖ – BMW S 1000RR – 22pt
8. NATIONAL MOTOS DEBISE – Honda CBR1000 RRSP – 22pt
9. TATI TEAM BEAUJOLAIS RACING – Kawasaki ZX 10R – 17pt
10. AM MOTO RACING COMPETITION – Suzuki GSXR 1000 – 13pt
Yamaha Pit Stop
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