24hr: Suzuki scoop two class wins in FIM Endurance World Championship opener at Le Mans
Sun Apr 17th 2015 – Today Suzuki triumphed in the Sarthe winning two categories and the overall trophy in the 24 Heures Motos. Kawasaki never gave up, and Honda, Yamaha and BMW still have room for improvement. These are the main lessons to be drawn from the 38th 24 Heures Motos. Suzuki’s 12th victory equals Kawasaki’s record in the results. 70 500 spectators came to enjoy Suzuki’s triumph on the Bugatti circuit.
Report. FULL results here.
The 38th 24 Heures Motos will be remembered for the final stages which turned into a triumph for Suzuki. This year the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team works team is celebrating its 35th anniversary and the 30th of its legendary GSX-R , and it covered itself in glory by winning two of the three classes in which the 56 bikes at the start were entered as well as being involved in the victory of the Metiss in the open category.
In the blue riband category (EWC), the no. 30 works Suzuki was delayed by a minor off by Anthony Delhalle in the very early stages of the race, while several of its direct rivals brought about their own downfall early on. The Suzuki squad was worried about the low fuel consumption of the no. 111 Honda and the speed of the no. 7 Yamaha. The latter retired in the ninth hour of the race (engine failure). The no. 30 Suzuki held the lead until the chequered flag, its only issue being the fact that its rider line-up was reduced to two as Anthony Delhalle, who wasn’t feeling well during the night, was unable to do any stints from Sunday morning onwards. He let his team-mates Vincent Philippe and Etienne Masson finish the job.
The no. 11 pole-setting works Kawasaki of Gregory Leblanc, Mathieu Lagrive and Fabien Foret was the first bike to take the fight to the Suzuki. Then the no. 111 Honda of Gimbert-Da Costa-Foray took up the chase, but the engine lost power due to a clutch problem around 20 h 30, after which a succession of technical glitches dropped n°111 to the bottom of the time sheets. It fought back during the night but retired with a mechanical problem on Sunday morning.
In the Kawasaki camp Foret severely compromised no. 11’s chances after around two hours racing when a fall cost the team 13 minutes in the pits. The riders on the green bike knew they couldn’t close the gap unless their rivals hit problems. Nonetheless, they made a magnificent comeback from 50th to second place!
The fable of the tortoise and the hare could be applied to no. 7 Yamaha and the one entered by the GMT 94 team, which saw the flag in fifth place 14 laps behind the winners. The Austrian entry retired with engine failure in the middle of the night after putting pressure on the no. 30 Suzuki for a long time. Sheridan Moraïs lowered the lap record to 1m38.381sec.
On its return to the blue-riband category, the no. 13 BMW S 1000RR finished seventh overall and fifth of the bikes entered in the EWC after showing strongly in the early hours of the race. The BMW Motorrad France Team penz13.com has everything to play for in the 2015 FIM World Endurance Championship.
In the Superstock category the 2014 winner, the Qatar Endurance Racing Team (Cudlin, Al Naimi, Tizon) led on several occasions, but finally victory went to the n°72 Suzuki entered by the Junior Team LMS Suzuki with Baptiste Guittet, Gregg Black and Romain Maitre, after the Qatar bike ran into technical problems. No. 72 battled with the other two Kawasakis, nos 33 and 4, finishing in their wake. The riders on no. 72 looked on course for a top-3 finish overall until the no. 8 Kawaski entered by the Bolliger Switzerland team upped the pace and snatched third in the closing stages.
The second part of the race turned into a duel between a Suzuki and two Kawasakis in the two categories counting for the FIM Endurance Championship and the FIM Superstock Endurance World Cup.
Victory in the Open Category went to the only bike at the finish, the no. 45 Metiss that came home in 18th place, 43 laps behind the winners. This bike powered by a Suzuki GSX-R engine with an innovative front drive train completed the triumph of the make in this year’s 24 Heures Motos.
The second round of the 2015 FIM Word Endurance Championship will take place on 25th July with the Suzuka 8 Hours in Japan.
The next rendezvous on the Bugatti circuit for motorbike aficionados is the French Grand Prix on 15-17 May, the fifth round of the 2015 MotoGP Championship.