After 16 hours: YART Yamaha battles back from slow stop to lead 24h Spa EWC Motos.
As the sun came up over the iconic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, the two championship frontrunners were battling over the lead in Belgium.
YART Yamaha leads the way, scoring 10 championship points at the 16-hour mark to add to the nine they collected after eight hours.
It lost momentum after 13 hours when a slow front tyre change cost it 20 seconds in the pits, handing 2022 EWC champion F.C.C. TSR Honda the initiative.
But a rapid response by YART Yahama’s Czech star Karel Hanika enabled it to fight back and narrow the gap for the pole-sitting Austrian outfit, before taking the lead with a big move on F.C.C. TSR Honda’s Josh Hook just after the 15-hour mark.
The Australian rider expressed concerns of a possible issue throughout his laps as he returned to the pits at the demanding 6.985-kilometre circuit, with the team 14 seconds behind two thirds into the race.
It was then forced into the pits for five minutes shortly after 16 hours of high-speed action with exhaust problems, handing Yoshimura SERT Motul the chance to capture second place and give YART Yamaha a two-lap lead.
But with F.C.C. TSR Honda holding the edge after eight hours, its nine-point haul for second place after 16 gives it a provisional nine-point championship advantage as things stand.
Yoshimura SERT Motul was two laps down on the leaders after two thirds of the race, having endured an eventful opening eight hours, scoring another eight championship points.
The French team was also firmly in contention for the lead, but it suffered an early mishap when Sylvain Guintoli attempted to pit at the wrong garage. It was then hit by a costly stop-go penalty after Étienne Masson collided with the Holland Motorstore Racing bike in turn seven just after the five-hour mark. The Suzuki-powered squad’s misfortune continued when it was forced into the pits for three minutes to rectify a technical issue after six hours.
THE CHASING PACK
Belgian squad BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, the winner in Spa last season, was placed fourth after 16 hours, scoring seven points, three laps down on the leaders after some mechanical issues in the first eight hours.
Team Kawasaki Webike Trickstar held fifth to claim another six points having lost some time due to electrical problems just after the nine-hour mark.
Another Belgian team, KM99, enjoyed a strong night with its Yamaha, blazing from P14 overall after eight hours to sixth spot, scoring five points at 16 hours – 10 laps down on the leaders. Its fightback came after Bastian Mackels crashed at Eau Rouge in the opening hour, before his team-mate Lucas Mahias slipped off near the pit entrance at the seven-and-a-half-hour mark.
BMW-powered Team LRP Poland is seventh, scoring four points. Team Moto AIN dropped back to eighth in the EWC class, scoring three points, after its Yamaha was forced into the pits with a mechanical issue just before the 16-hour mark.
Honda Viltaïs Racing was ninth scoring two, having suffered exhaust problems at around the eight-hour stage. Motobox Kremer Racing was the final bonus points scorer by making it through to 16 hours in P10.
DUNLOP SUPERSTOCK TROPHY SHOWDOWN DELIGHTS
In the Dunlop Superstock Trophy showdown, National Motos Honda overhauled Chromeburner-RAC41-Honda for the lead in a tense battle for FIM Endurance World Cup honours. Chromeburner-RAC41-Honda had the initiative, holding a lap in hand after the eight-hour stage, but National Motos closed the gap and moved ahead to secure 10 points after 16 hours. But there was despair for the RAC41 team after 16 and a half hours, when Chris Leesch crashed, forcing it to pit for repairs. Kawasaki-powered Team 33 Louit April Moto was a lap behind in third place after 16 hours, scoring eight points, with Honda No Limits taking fourth spot and seven points and Yamaha-powered Wójcik Racing Team STK fifth, scoring six. It was forced into the pits just before the 16-hour mark with mechanical problems, before Kamil Krzemień crashed shortly afterwards. Having held fourth place in the Superstock class after eight hours, Pitlane Endurance – JP3 was forced to retire after 197 laps, shortly after ADSS97’s Kawasaki machine also pulled up, having completed 179 laps. Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team – the fastest Superstock outfit in qualifying – retired from the race after 201 laps.
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