60 teams will be at the start of the 40th edition of the 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans on 15 April. The 24 Heures Motos is the second round of the FIM EWC 2016-2017 championship, and it promises to be a mega edition in many respects: new machines, the arrival of MotoGP riders, and a strongly international slant with 2 Japanese teams, 12 nationalities and 9 manufacturers will feature in the starting line-up.
The 2017 edition has sparked an unprecedented amount of interest. No fewer than 72 teams submitted entries for the 60 spots on the starting grid. It’s the first time since 2010 that this has happened at the 24 Heures Motos.
Of the 60 approved teams, the spotlight will initially be on the factory-backed teams. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, reigning champion and winner of the Bol d’Or, the first race of the 2016-2017 season, is still coming to grips with the tragic death of one of its riders, Anthony Delhalle. Also, Dominique Méliand’s squad will have to show up on the starting grid with the GSX-R 2016 because of the delayed arrival of parts being developed for the 2017 model. Junior Team Le Mans Sud Suzuki will be in the Superstock line-up on the new GSX-R 1000.
As to Honda, British factory-backed team Honda Endurance Racing is expected to race on the promising new CBR1000RR – like Team April Moto Motors Events, which placed third in the FIM EWC 2016 and has left Suzuki for Honda, and Team National Motos. Team F.C.C. TSR Honda has announced it will be using the 2016 Honda.
Nine manufacturers in the running
Yamaha has lined up two factory-backed teams to chase the win: French team GMT94 Yamaha and YART Yamaha Official EWC Team, which is getting support from Bridgestone in 2017. Privateers running Yamaha bikes also have big ambitions, like Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences and Maco Racing.
The Kawasaki flag will be flown by Team SRC Kawasaki, the 2016 winner of the 24 Heures Motos, and Japanese team Eva Trick Star Racing, not to mention private squads like the seasoned Team Bolliger Switzerland, French teams Tati Team Beaujolais Racing, AM Moto Racing Compétition and Ecurie Chrono Sport, and the German team WSB Endurance, which is making its FIM EWC debut.
Tecmas BMW will represent the German brand together with three private full-season entries: Czech team IV Racing BMW CSEU and two German squads, Völpker NRT48 Schubert Motors and GERT56 HMT by RS Speedbikes.
Other manufacturers on the starting grid will include Metiss JLC Moto in the Experimental category, an Aprilia RSV4 Superstock and, in the Supertwin category, a KTM RC8R and two Ducati Panigale bikes.
Women riders at the start
Girls Racing Team, which got itself noticed with a 23rd-place finish at the Bol d’Or 2016, will be at the 24 Heures Motos too, with American rider Melissa Paris and Frenchwomen Amandine Creusot, Margaux Wanham and Muriel Simorre. Another woman rider – German racer Lucy Glöckner – will be in the saddle of the BMW run by Völpker NRT48 Schubert Motors.
Free practice at the 24 Heures Motos starts on Thursday 13 April from 10am onwards on the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans.