The works Kawasaki ZX-10R #11 of Team SRC has claimed a triumphant win in the 2016 edition of the Le Mans 24 hours, round One of the 2016 FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC).
Riders Fabien Foret, Matthieu Lagrive and Gregory Leblanc piloted their green machine a whopping 819 times around the 4.2km Le Mans Bugatti circuit, to win with a comfortable margin of 9 laps over their nearest competitors. A margin that no doubt would have been larger, had the team not suffered an early low-side fall, on a treacherous wet track, which left the right hand side of the ZX10R battle scarred for the remainder.
Second place went to Team April Moto Motors Events, with their privately entered #50 Suzuki GSX-R1000. Riders Gregg Black, Alex Cudlin and Gregory Fastre upstaged many more fancied rivals and win the ‘best of the rest’ race that developed over the last 6 hours.
They narrowly beat home eventual third place finishers Team F.C.C. TSR Honda, a name well known to followers of Japanese Superbike and endurance racing, however it was a maiden appearance at the famous French venue for the team. Their riders Damian Cudlin, Alan Techer and Kazuma Watanabe fought well on their #5 Honda CBR10000RR Fireblade to grab the last spot on the podium. This resulted in a unique podium celebration, as riders Alex and Damian Cudlin, brothers from Taree in NSW, shared the podium, however riding for different teams ñ and neither of whom was tipped to be spraying champagne at the completion of the gruelling event.
Many of the fancied front runners struck dramas, with reigning EWC winners S.E.R.T managing to scrabble back into fifth place on their #1 GSXR1000 after not one, but two crashes early in the race. S.E.R.T. (Delhalle/Masson/Phillippe) looked like they might climb as high as fourth, however a determined ride from Pouhair/Morris/Mahias on the #2 GSXR1000 for team R2CL kept the champion team at bay, and secured fourth for the underdogs. Team R2CL also have the accolade of the fastest lap of the event, a 1.38.448 from Lucas Mahias the benchmark.
Also running into dramas were the fast and experienced Yamaha teams, GMT94 and Y.A.R.T. suffering crash damage. GMT94 retired, however Y.A.R.T. fought on – Broc Parkes and Max Neurkirchner rode almost 20 hours as a two rider team due to Ivan Silvaís sustaining injury in his early fall, to grab a few championship points in 11th.
Broc Parkes – YART Yamaha Official EWC Team, Rider
“That was easily the hardest race I’ve ever done in my whole life. At times I didn’t think it was possible. After we had a meeting with Mandy, I was questioning it because the weather was so bad and cold and there were moments when I was riding towards the end when I wasn’t sure and I didn’t think that even I could keep continuing. It’s good for the team, I think we went from nothing to getting some good points for the championship. I’ve been with the team now for three or four years, I gave everything for them and I’m happy that it’s over.”
The Factory Honda Endurance Racing Team could only manage 19th place after electrical dramas, and Team Bolliger Kawasaki withdrew from the intense fight for second just after sunrise on Sunday.
Sixth outright and winning the Superstock class was Team 3ART YAMíAVENUE, salvaging pride for Yamaha and their new YZF-R1. Riders Plancassagne, Trautmann and Bulle made more passes during the race than anyone else, having qualified in 50th position!
The superstock podium was completed by AM Moto Racing Competition on another ZX10R and Voelpker NRT48 by Schubert-Motors with their BMW S1000RR.
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