Kawasaki top Le Mans 24 Hour qualifying
A wet track at the start of the second qualifying practice broadly preserved the status quo coming out of yesterday’s session on dry. Team SRC Kawasaki will start in pole position tomorrow in the 37th edition of the 24 Heures Moto at Le Mans, final of the 2014 FIM Endurance World Championship. In second place on the grid ahead of Monster Energy Yamaha YART, Honda Racing is looking like a serious contender for a win.
The French factory Kawasaki, winner of the last four editions of the 24 Heures Moto, will therefore be first on the grid followed by the British Honda, which got a taste for victory at the Oschersleben 8 Hours, and the Austrian Yamaha, determined to make its first podium of the season. These three teams are all bent on winning, but the SRC Kawasaki is looking very good with a perfectly matched crew and three riders under the 1’37.500 mark.
Even if this pole position doesn’t mean so much in a long and gruelling 24 hours, it shows at least the serious potential of the Kawasaki SRC squad for the race as Gilles Stafler explained : “It’s the first time ever for me that I got such a result from my riders. The gap between them it’s only four tenths of a second on either race tyres or qualifiers. The team made a really good job as well, and it’s the perfect start for this long race week-end. Now the most difficult part is coming and we have to be 100% focused on the race. Pole position is one thing the race something very different.”
Matthieu Lagrive commented : “For sure I’m really happy to get this pole position for Kawasaki and the team. I was quite worry about so many bikes near me during my first run but I was lucky to get a clear lap in the second qualifying. Gregory, Fabien and I are very close on lap time and with the team and the Ninja Kawasaki ZX-10R we also have a really good package to make a strong race.”
Fabien Foret concluded : “I really enjoyed my qualifying session. I could have been a little bit faster but I made a small mistake and almost crashed. So it’s a good result for the team and a perfect way to prepare the race. We all know that it will be much more different and difficult in the race but, for sure, we are ready for the fight.”
Jason O’Halloran has been riding with the Honda squad – “I managed to get the good session today, which was nice. I improved my time on a race tyre so I’m pleased with that. The set-up changes the team has made in the last two days have been really positive and I think they are in a really strong position for the race. My work here is pretty much done but it’s been a great experience. I’ve learnt a new track and I really enjoy being with the team so it’s been a good week.”
In fourth on the grid, a focused Suzuki Endurance Racing Team is sitting just ahead of the current top of the leader board, Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin, that will have to defend its 21-point lead to add a second world crown to its first title won in 2004. The first private team, Honda National Motos, has the best Superstock crews right on its tail. First in this class, Qatar Endurance Racing Team (Kawasaki) will be starting in 7th ahead of Team Traqueur Louit Moto 33 (Kawasaki), Junior Team LMS Suzuki, current leader of the FIM Superstock World Cup, Tati Team Beaujolais Racing (Kawasaki) and AM Moto Racing Compétition (Suzuki).
As in EWC, here at Le Mans there is everything still to play for in the FIM Superstock World Cup. Junior Team LMS Suzuki has a slim 9-point lead over Penz13.com Franks Autowelt Racing Team (BMW), out of the limelight in the qualifying practice but still one to watch. During the practice, impressive performances by the BMW Penz13.com Racing Team #31, entered in Open with Sylvain Barrier, Jason Pridmore and Glenn Allerton, earned it 10th place on the starting grid.
In all classes, the race is therefore shaping up to be more undecided and suspenseful than ever. This 37th edition of the 24 Heures Moto will start tomorrow, Saturday, at 15 hours on the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans.
The start of the 37th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours race will be on Saturday 20 September at 3 o’clock and the famous number 11 ZX-10R Ninja bike will start proudly ahead of 55 other competitors.