It’s an absolute first in Endurance! After the 12-hour race, GMT94 Yamaha scraped past Suzuki Endurance Racing Team with a mere 0.081s lead. Honda Endurance Racing took third place on the podium
Hard to find adjectives to describe it! Thrilling, mind-blowing, emotionally charged, stressful: the final half-hour of the 12 Horas de Portimao turned the usual trends of Endurance upside down. David Checa for GMT94 Yamaha and Etienne Masson for Suzuki Endurance Racing Team gave us a MotoGP-style finish after a 12-hour battle. The fight between Suzuki Endurance Racing Team and GMT94 Yamaha started in the first hour. The Suzuki #1 and Yamaha #94 alternately led throughout the race between refuelling stops. Behind the two duellists, Honda Endurance Racing doggedly chased a podium place after having a tough time of it in practice and starting from 11th place on the grid. The only squad barring their way, YART Yamaha Official EWC Team, were slowed down towards the end by an exhaust problem and finished 4th, two laps from the Honda.
Team April Moto Motors Events finished 5th but, most importantly, is topping the provisional FIM EWC standings after Portimão. This private team managed by Hervé Moineau is ahead of Team Kawasaki SRC, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team and F.C.C. TSR Honda. GMT94 Yamaha has entered the rankings in 5th place, with 45 points.
Tight group in the Superstock class
Hats off to Tati Team Beaujolais Racing, 6th overall and top Superstock: they ran a flawless race. Tati Team Beaujolais Racing is ahead of Völpker NRT48 Schubert Motors (which now tops the FIM Superstock World Cup), Junior Team Le Mans Sud Suzuki and Team 3Art Yam’Avenue – all three got to the finish in a tight group, in 6th to 9th place.
A rough ride for the favourites
A series of misfortunes befell the leaders in the early stages of the race. F.C.C. TSR Honda were let down by a clutch problem and finished 12th. Team Kawasaki SRC started from pole but were forced to withdraw because of fuel consumption issues and an overheating engine. Likewise, the Portuguese Parkalgar team featuring Miguel Oliveira retired after several crashes.
This extraordinary race has turned the FIM EWC championship standings on their head. A private team is in top place, and Lucas Mahias, GMT94 Yamaha’s new recruit, leads the rider standings.
The next FIM EWC championship race is scheduled for 31 July: the Suzuka 8 Hours in Japan.
What they say
David Checa, GMT94 Yamaha rider
“I chose to take risks at the end of the race, and they paid off.”
Etienne Masson, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team’s last-stint rider
“We’ve partly achieved our objective – scoring big points – but we didn’t win. It bothers me that we got so close but didn’t win.”
Freddy Foray, Honda Endurance Racing rider
“We had a tough week. This third place is good for the team, but we’ve still got work to do, because we’re here to win.”
Julien Enjolras, Tati Team Beaujolais Racing rider
“It wasn’t an easy win, but we didn’t make any mistakes and we were able to manage our race without too much effort.”