Bikes: 24 Hrs Moto Victory to Suzuki and the World title to Yamaha
Le Mans – Sun 20th Sep 2014 –
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team emerged victorious from the 24 Heures Moto with a two-lap lead over Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin, who take the 2014 FIM Endurance World Championship title. Monster Energy Yamaha YART took the third step of the podium after a heart-stopping race.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team collected their first win of the season at the 24 Heures Moto at Le Mans, final of the 2014 FIM Endurance World Championship. Although the FIM Endurance World title eluded them this time after four successive years at the top of the world rankings, Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Erwan Nigon and the team led by Dominique Méliand have finished a tough season on a high note. In this 24 Hour race, they took the maximum number of points, leading after 8 and 16 hours before taking the chequered flag in first place. The Suzuki Endurance Racing Team took command of the race early in the evening after a crash for Fabien Forêt on the Team SRC Kawasaki. The factory ZX-10R, also ridden by Gregory Leblanc and Matthieu Lagrive, had clocked up 200 laps at the front of the field.
Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin is the other star of this team race at Le Mans. At the top of the provisional leader board going in to the race, David Checa, Kenny Foray and Mathieu Gines stayed with the pace set by the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team at the front. The race did not start well for Christophe Guyot’s team after a touch and a crash for David Checa in the first lap, but after attacking hard for the rest of the race, Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin takes its second world crown ten years after its first FIM Endurance World Championship title in 2004.
Third at the finish, Monster Energy Yamaha YART was also a major protagonist in the show at Le Mans with Broc Parkes, Michael Laverty and Sheridan Morais. They clocked up some breathtaking laps but were held up somewhat by a crash on Sunday morning. The two first Superstocks took the chequered flag in 4th and 5th. Qatar Endurance Racing Team with Anthony West, Alex Cudlin and Mashel Al Naimi were in control throughout. The Qatari Kawasaki finished two laps ahead of Junior Team LMS Suzuki with Baptiste Guittet, Etienne Masson and Gregg Black. But after a very regular season, Junior Team LMS Suzuki managed by Damien Saulnier takes the 2014 FIM Endurance World Cup ahead of Qatar Endurance Racing Team. Starteam PAM Racing, who turned heads at Oschersleben, took third place on the Superstock podium at Le Mans with Claude Lucas, Jonathan Hardt and Kevin Longearet.
Sixth overall, Honda National Motos with Greg Junod, Arturo Tizon and Olivier Four finished just short of the Formula EWC podium in fourth ahead of Team R2CL, held up by crashes. Credit is also due to Bolliger Team Switzerland, who were among the Top 5 for a significant period before a problem with overheating. The hopes of two major favourites for a win came to an end during the night. Held up by gear box problems halfway through the race, Honda Racing dropped out just before 7 h in the morning. Julien Da Costa, Sébastien Gimbert and Freddy Foray had tucked themselves into second in the wake of the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team despite a crash for Sébastien Gimbert before the end of the first hour just after he went on the track. Held up first by a crash for Fabien Forêt just after nightfall, Team SRC Kawasaki went out of the race shortly after Honda Racing. After a further crash during the night The Kawasaki ZX-10R was too badly damaged to get back into the race.
The start of the race was almost unprecedentedly dramatic. A series of touches from the first lap sent several teams to the back of the field including Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin. Then Sylvain Barrier on the Open BMW of Penz13.com Racing Team took the lead ahead of the Formula EWC heavy hitters. This BMW, which was not in contention for the title, finished 7th overall. The weather conditions played a major role as intermittent rain and a track that remained tricky during much of the race led to numerous changes of tyres.
What they said…
Vincent Philippe, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team rider
“I haven’t won here for 11 years and 2014 was a difficult year for SERT and for me. On Friday, we would
never have fancied our chanced to win but we shall be back fighting in 2015.”
Erwan Nigon, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team rider
« It’s my first win in a 24 hour race. I’d like to give a special mention to the team, my fellow riders and allntheir hard work. The track was tricky and we managed to avoid the pitfalls.”
Anthony Delhalle, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team rider
“It’s really nice to win at home. I live just 15 minutes away from the circuit. I have been watching riders on the Bugatti since I was a kind. This is the third time I’ve tried for a win and it finally paid off.”
Dominique Méliand, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team Team Manager
“It’s a bit early to talk about 2015 but this win at the end of the season will open a few doors for us. We have already received congratulations from Japan!”
David Checa, Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin rider
“That was a very tough race. I was on the ground after 24 seconds and I’m World Champion after 24 hours! We are champions without a win but we went for it in every race. That’s the most important thing.”
Mathieu Gines, Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin rider
“It’s been an extraordinary human adventure!”
Christophe Guyot, Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin team manager
“We knew the SERT was a tough opponent but we are all competitors so we kept on fighting till the end.”
Mashel Al Naimi, rider of the Qatar Endurance Racing Team’s Kawasaki
“It was my first win in a 24 hour race. I’d like to express my admiration for Anthony’s performance. He set a really high standard from the start.”
Anthony West, rider of the Qatar Endurance Racing Team’s Kawasaki
“I got a very good start but I never thought I would find myself ahead of all the EWC Formula guys. But ifI’d known just now tough the race would be I’d have started off a bit more gently.”
Baptiste Guittet, Junior Team LMS Suzuki rider
“We were aiming for the title but I made a small mistake this morning which cost us two laps.”
Etienne Masson, Junior Team LMS Suzuki rider
“The QERT riders were in a class of their own. We couldn’t follow Anthony who rode a fabulous first relay.”
Gregg Black, Junior Team LMS Suzuki rider
“For me it’s been a successful season with the title in the French Superbike Championship and the Superstock World Cup.”
Sylvain Barrier, who signed 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 or next year.”