Suzuki Endurance Racing Team pulled off a superb win with a 10-lap lead over Team SRC Kawasaki and Japanese team Trick Star Racing – who made a brilliant debut at the Bol d’Or. Fellow-Japanese team F.C.C. TSR Honda finished 5th.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team made a clean sweep at the first race of the FIM EWC 2016/2017 season, scooping 40 points for the win plus the 20 bonus points awarded to the team in the lead 8 and 16 hours into the race. Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Etienne Masson had a perfect race. The team ran like clockwork, staying in the lead for 683 of the race’s 687 laps.
The 80th Bol d’Or will also be remembered for putting MotoGP riders on both the EWC and Superstock podiums, and for having two Japanese teams in the top 5: proof of the championship’s new international slant.
Randy de Puniet finished on the second step of the podium after his first Bol d’Or, alongside his SRC Kawasaki teammates Gregory Leblanc and Fabien Foret. A broken wheel axle slowed the team down shortly after nightfall, but SRC Kawasaki quickly caught up with the front group – though they admit the Suzuki clan was invincible this weekend. Randy Puniet turned in a flawless performance in the saddle of the #11, proving he’s a genuine Endurance rider who really understands the sport.
Like F.C.C. TSR Honda at the Le Mans 24 Heures Motos in 2016, a Japanese team stepped on the podium at the Bol d’Or. Trick Star Racing pulled off an amazing 3rd place on its very first foray outside the Suzuka 8 Hours with riders Erwan Nigon, Osamu Deguchi and Hitoyasu Izutsu. The team will clearly be a force to reckon with at all the other FIM EWC races.
Maco Racing Team fell just short of the podium after Greg Junod, Anthony dos Santos and Marko Jerman completed a fantastic race. F.C.C. TSR Honda rounded off the top 5. The team featured Shinichi Ito, four-time winner of the Suzuka 8 Hours. The Bol d’Or marked his return to the track. He rode the Honda #5 with Damian Cudlin and Kazuma Watanabe.
A Superstock battle raged just behind the top 5, with another MotoGP rider in the spotlight carrying off a historic win. This was Moto3 rider Alexis Masbou’s first-ever Endurance race, alongside Johann Nigon and Hugo Clere on the Yamaha Moto Ain bike. They finished 6th overall and 1st in Superstock, ahead of Tati Team Beaujolais Racing (Julien Enjolras, Dylan Buisson and Anthony Violland, slowed down by a wheel axle problem) and Team 3Art Yam’Avenue (Louis Bulle, Alex Plancassagne and Luca Marconi, hampered by a tumble and then by running out of fuel). Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences led the Superstock class for a long time before losing ground because of a fuel pump problem.
Pole sitter GMT94 Yamaha plummeted to the depths of the standings after two crashes, but finished 9th after a brilliant climb back up.
Others were less fortunate. Several teams had to throw in the towel at the 80th Bol d’Or. Engine failure put paid to YART Yamaha Official EWC Team’s hopes in the early hours. Broc Parkes, who posted the race’s fastest lap (a 1’59.124), Josh Hayes and Sheridan Morais had got the Austrian Yamaha up to 2nd place when it happened, after running out of fuel during the first stint.
Honda Endurance Racing got unlucky yet again. After lapping in the top 3 for the first quarter of the race, the British Honda squad fell back following a crash, then had to withdraw because of a gearbox problem two hours from the finish line.
Earlier in the race, Penz13.com BMW Motorrad Team withdrew with a broken engine, and Team April Moto Motors Events with a broken gearbox.
Next date on the FIM EWC calendar: 18 March 2017 (12 Horas de Portimão, Portugal).