Pirelli and Bridgestone prove competitive but Dunlop took top honours at Bol d’Or
GMT94 Yamaha won Bol d’Or but BMW leads World Endurance Manufacturer’s Cup
The Pirelli-shod Kawasaki SRC dominated qualifying, taking pole and posting the fastest race lap. Wepol BMW Motorrad Team by Penz13, which claimed the second step of the podium, also uses Pirelli tyres.
An official tyre supplier to the FIM EWC since 2016, Bridgestone equipped the F.C.C. TSR Honda France bike, which stayed consistently at the front end of the race. After battling for more than 17 hours at the Bol d’Or, the Japanese team took the lead on Sunday morning on the Paul Ricard circuit.
Two Dunlop-shod teams, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team and GMT94 Yamaha, staged a thrilling duel during the last eight hours of the race. Winner GMT94 Yamaha took Dunlop to the top step of the podium, while Honda Endurance Racing, another Dunlop user, climbed on the third step.
Honda Endurance Racing snatched the third place during the last few minutes of the race from the jaws of Völpker NRT48 Schubert Motors by ERC, a private German BMW team which has also opted for Dunlop tyres.
Temperatures at the track varied from a high of 35-degrees to a low of just 10-degrees during the night. Dunlop teams benefitted from the ability of the tyres to reach peak performance temperatures on the opening lap. The tyres also proved their durability, with private teams able to multiple stint by up to three stints on the rear, and six stints on the front. Five Dunlop teams were in the top eight in the EWC, with three of the top four finishers in the Superstock class choosing to race on Dunlops.
GMT94 Yamaha Racing took the flag a full nine laps ahead of its nearest competitor after 24 hours of racing, but until the 21st hour there were continual lead changes and everything to race for. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) took their turn at the top until issues, including penalties and mechanical issuesconcerns, led to them slipping down the order, eventually crossing the line in seventh place. The third step of the podium was claimed by Honda Endurance Racing who were in podium contention throughout the race, overcoming an electrical problem to fight back and end the race in an intense battle. Honda eventually winning that battle for the coveted third spot after several laps in the closing stages, overtaking Voelpker NRT48 on the final lap and crossing the line just 0.989 seconds ahead.
Roland Wozniak, International Event Manager, Dunlop Motorsport
“That was a great way to start the season and a good opening to the title defence for GMT94 Yamaha. It was a shame that SERT had issues as they were looking very strong this weekend. Honda Endurance Racing were also racing well – it would have been good to have had the Dunlop 1-2 that looked possible until the electrical problems occurred. The battle between them and NRT48 for third though was fantastic. It is a shame we now have to wait until April for more great racing. We had no tyre problems all weekend and our teams were happy that they could push much more quickly on new tyres.”
The constructor championship is also opening up. Yamaha was first past the finish line, but with Wepol BMW Motorrad Team by Penz13 taking second place and Völpker NRT48 Schubert Motors by ERC just missing the podium, BMW (57 points) went to the head of the constructors’ standings, ahead of Yamaha (50 points) and Honda (47 points). Suzuki and Kawasaki notched up 28 points each.
François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events and FIM EWC promoter
“In a first for a 24-hour race, the Bol d’Or enabled Honda and Suzuki’s new machines to express all their potential. The new CBR1000RR Fireblade and GSX-R1000 demonstrated that they will be formidable adversaries for Yamaha, BMW and Kawasaki.
“The intensified competition between tyre suppliers this season is another very positive sign, as it takes the FIM EWC to a higher level of technology and sport. Team SRC Kawasaki’s pole and fastest race lap were proof that Pirelli had come to the Paul Ricard circuit armed with very high-performance tyres. And it was the first time in a 24-hour race that Bridgestone was in the lead four hours from the finish with F.C.C. TSR Honda France. However, the Dunlop-GMT94 Yamaha combo’s performance proved to be the most consistently high-level in this tough and very fast race over 3,955 km.
“The EWC must remain an event where every constructor and tyre manufacturer can demonstrate the value of their products, all the way from racing to series production. Tough, demanding races like the Bol d’Or offer a fantastic showcase for their technology.”
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.