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All down to the Bol as EWC heroes go for world title glory

All Down To The Bol As Ewc Heroes Go For World Title GloryFive titles will be up for grabs when the curtain comes down on another epic FIM Endurance World Championship season during the Bol d’Or 24-hour race at Circuit Paul Ricard in southern France next week (14-17 September).

Six squads are locked in battle for the FIM Endurance World Championship for Teams following three action-packed counters in France, Belgium and Japan. And it’s a similar story in the FIM Endurance World Cup with as many as 10 outfits still in contention to lift the Dunlop Superstock Trophy. With a maximum of 85 points still to fight for in each category, the destinations of all titles are wide open and set to go down to the wire next Sunday afternoon.

F.C.C. TSR Honda France tops the headlining Formula EWC category after three rounds as it bids to claim back-to-back titles. Frenchman Mike Di Meglio, who partners compatriot Alan Techer and Australian Josh Hook on the #1 Honda, said: “The feeling is good and we can be confident we can keep the #1 for next season. I am 35 years old now so I am starting to be close to the end of my career. I want to do a good end of my career and give many titles to Honda and my team. I will not put more pressure on myself but I know we can do it.”

After taking the EWC title last season without winning a race, F.C.C. TSR Honda France began its title defence by claiming victory in the 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans in April. However, with an advantage of 13 points in the championship chase, Di Meglio has admitted that winning the Bol d’Or, a feat he’s achieved on two previous occasions, isn’t vital to his team’s glory hopes.

“Winning a race is not the most important, we saw last year we didn’t win a race but we were world champion,” he said. “Sometimes it’s better to sacrifice having a great race if, at the end, we can be world champion. This is the most important.”

Having claimed its first 24-hour race win in the EWC since 2009 when it finished first at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in June, Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team starts this year’s Bol d’Or firmly in the championship mix, 13 points behind F.C.C. TSR Honda France.

“We wish we would be closer or ahead, but 13 points is nothing in the EWC, especially in the Bol d’Or where we get more points,” said Germany’s Marvin Fritz, who partners Italian Niccolò Canepa and Czech Karel Hanika in the Austria-based organisation. “Last year SERT was 24 points ahead of us and after one and a half hours in the race we could be world champion. In one and a half hours a lot of things can change, unfortunately we were unlucky last year, many teams were with the strong back wind on the Mistral Straight. But we can catch five points in the qualifying and you never know what can happen in the race. We will not give up fighting, we have a strong team and we are very confident.”

With a 38-point deficit to overcome, a first EWC victory of 2023 for the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team would provide a huge boost to the Belgian outfit in its title pursuit. After Ukrainian Illya Mykhalchyk qualified on pole for the Bol d’Or last year, Markus Reiterberger, who completes the BMW line-up along with Frenchman Jérémy Guarnoni, is aiming high.

“Winning the title would be the main goal we are working for and my personal goal for sure,” said the German two-time EWC race winner. “I’ve won many championships, but I miss a world championship. This would be my main objective, I hope we can do it and I know we can do it.”

The Bol d’Or will be broadcast live on TV and online throughout the world and will also benefit from extensive highlights packages. More details at https://www.fimewc.com/where-to-watch

Having celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2022, this year’s Bol d’Or is the 30th to take place at Circuit Paul Ricard. While it’s the third longest track on the calendar at 5.673 kilometres, 1.8 kilometres are taken up by the imposing Mistral Straight. A place to pass and be passed, the Mistral Straight puts a big strain on the competing bikes, which will run for approximately 20 seconds at more than 300kph.

Belgian KM99 Yamaha rider Bastien Mackels said: “You have to stay really focused on the RPM, try to get the best of the engine but not too much. Lap after lap, hour after hour you try to save a little bit the engine because it’s really important to keep the bike safe to the end.”

Florian Alt, part of the Viltaïs Racing entry that won the Bol d’Or last year, is braced for a tough race aboard the #333 Honda, which the German shares with South African Steven Odendaal and Argentine Bol d’Or rookie Leandro Mercado.

“For the technic it’s really demanding because you have 16 or 17 seconds of full gas from the engine,” Alt said. “But for the rider it’s some time to rest and take a breath and you can concentrate on some other things like you can check the temperature.”

Yoshimura SERT Suzuki’s Étienne Masson said: “It’s demanding a lot of power and a strong engine because you are full gas maybe for 20 seconds and you can win a lot of time.”

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team’s Karel Hanika said: “We need to set up the bike so we don’t stress so much [the engine] on a 20-second, sixth-gear straight.”

Team Kawasaki Webike Trickstar rider Randy de Puniet added: “The Mistral Straight is an easy place to overtake. You can take a slipstream and you can win in this straight, maybe six or seven tenths if you have a good bike.”

FLORIAN ALT: “For the technic it’s really demanding because you have 16 or 17 seconds of full gas from the engine”

With the Bol d’Or 24-hour race once again deciding the outcome of the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship for Teams and Manufacturers, the 2023 FIM Endurance World Cup for Teams and Manufacturers and the EWC Independent Trophy, this is a refresher on how points can be scored at Circuit Paul Ricard.

Bol d’or race points are multiplied by a factor of 1.5 and awarded to teams in the Formula EWC and Superstock categories as follows:

1st = 60 points; 2nd = 49.5; 3rd = 42; 4th = 36; 5th 31.5; 6th = 28.5; 7th = 25.5; 8th = 22.5; 9th = 19.5; 10th = 16.5; 11th = 15; 12th = 13.5; 13th = 12; 14th = 10.5; 15th = 9; 16th = 7.5; 17th = 6; 18th = 4.5; 19th = 3; 20th = 1.5.

Points will also be awarded to teams in the Formula EWC and Superstock categories after 8 and 16 hours of racing as follows: 1st = 10 points; 2nd = 9; 3rd = 8; 4th = 7; 5th = 6; 6th = 5; 7th = 4; 8th = 3; 9th = 2; 10th = 1.

Prior to the race getting under way, the fastest five Formula EWC and Superstock teams following the completion of Second Qualifying on 15 September will score points as follows: 1st = 5 points; 2nd = 4 points; 3rd = 3 points; 4th = 2 points; 5th = 1 point.

It means a Formula EWC or Superstock team can score a maximum of 85 points, providing they qualify on pole position, leader after both eight hours and 16 hours of racing and win their respective category.

As well as the battle for FIM Endurance World Championship title glory, the Dunlop-equipped FIM Endurance World Cup for Superstock machinery will go down to the Bol d’Or season finale at Circuit Paul Ricard next week.

Ahead of the third and final counter from 14-17 September, last season’s Bol d’Or Superstock winner, Chromeburner-RAC41-Honda, tops the provisional standings by six points ahead of Honda No Limits with National Motos Honda just two points further back following its category triumph in the 24H SPA EWC Motos in June.

Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team, the Superstock winner in the 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans in April, is fourth in the provisional title table and with a 16-point margin to Chromeburner-RAC41-Honda to overcome following its non-finish at Spa. Team 33 Louit April Moto and 3ART Best of Bike hold fifth and sixth positions respectively.

With 85 points on offer in the Bol d’Or season decider, more than 10 squads remain in realistic contention for the FIM Endurance World Cup for Teams and the Dunlop Superstock Trophy titles. They also include Wójcik Racing Team, TRT27 Bazar 2 La Bécane, Team Slider Endurance, Junior Team LMS Suzuki and BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers, the Bol d’Or Superstock winner in 2021.

Some of the other Dunlop Superstock Trophy teams set for Bol d’Or action are ADSS97, Aviobike, Holland Motorstore Racing, JMA Racing Action Bike, OG Motorsport World Endurance Team, Pitlane Endurance – JP3, 2022 title-winning Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore, Team 202, Uniserv Moto82 Team and Falcon Racing, which is back on EWC duty after being unable to compete in the 24H SPA EWC Motos.

David Checa (Spain), ERC Endurance Ducati: “We never expected that Ducati can win the race last year but we proved we was able to do until we had a little problem with the clutch. We repaired, we finished fifth, it was a really good race for us, we showed that Ducati can win and everybody believed in us. In endurance you find the solution on one side but you find a problem on the other side. The Bol d’Or [last year] was a nightmare for a lot of teams, in four hours a lot of bikes were broken and normally they never break. The best is to be there, do your best and at the end of 24 hours if you are on the podium, you are happy and if you win you are the best.”

Karel Hanika (Czech Republic), Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team: “We are fighting for the championship and it’s the goal to win the race and be successful in the championship. I have never won the Bol d’Or so it’s one of my dreams to take home this gold trophy. But we know our competitors are very strong and the race is definitely hard for the bike, so we have to use the areas where we are strong and focus on these.”

Étienne Masson (France), Yoshimura SERT Motul: “Suzuka was a big disappointment. The bike was perfect, and we followed the established strategy to the letter. The refuelling was also very quick. Everything was perfect until the rain came. We thought that luck would finally be on our side. We’ll have to wait for the Bol d’Or and we’re going to give it 100%, that’s for sure.”

Illya Mykhalchyk (Ukraine), BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team: “It’s the main race of the year and the main points, which is more than needed. It’s something special because I never won this race. By showing the work of the whole team and all the riders we got the pole position [last year]. There was quite a lot of problems with traffic but I had a strategy to wait for everyone to be gone and I exited on an almost empty track. I managed a good slipstream at the beginning but then I decided not to use the slipstream and just ride along. Maybe I lose a few tenths on the straight but then I won some time in the third sector and the last one. Thanks to BMW, they’ve made a big step with the bike from last year.”

Alan Techer (France), F.C.C. TSR Honda France: “I never win the Bol d’Or, I never even make the podium, but I like this race so much and it’s my motivation this year to win the race and to win the championship. I am born not so far from the track. It’s not such a physical track but it’s a very fast track and if you make a mistake you can have big problems.”

Kazuki Watanabe (Japan), Team Kawasaki Webike Trickstar: “Last year’s Bol d’Or finished earlier than expected but we need to finish the race this year to make a good result for the championship. The package is still changing for the Bol d’Or and we are expecting to be quicker for the weekend and I know the team has the potential. For the rider the race is physically more easier, but for the bike it’s pretty demanding with the long straight.”

Thursday 14 September:
14h30-16h30: Free Practice
17h30-17h50: First Qualifying (Blue Rider)
18h00-18h20: First Qualifying (Yellow Rider)
18h30-18h50: First Qualifying (Red Rider)
19h00-19h20: First Qualifying (Green Rider)
20h30-21h30: Night Free Practice

Friday 15 September:
09h00-09h20: Second Qualifying (Blue Rider)
09h30-09h50: Second Qualifying (Yellow Rider)
10h00-10h20: Second Qualifying (Red Rider)
10h30-10h50: Second Qualifying (Green Rider)
11h00: Post-qualifying press conference (Press Conference Room, Media Centre)
17h20-18h50: Pitwalk

Saturday 16 September:
15h00: Start of the 86th Bol d’Or

Sunday 17 September:
15h00: Finish of the 86th Bol d’Or
15h10: Podium
15h30: Post-race and champions’ press conference (Press Conference Room, Media Centre)
*All timings shown in CET

Tony Zind rode solo to win the first Bol d’Or on a five-kilometre circuit of dirt roads close to Paris in 1922. For the 100th anniversary race in 2022, Florian Alt, Erwan Nigon and Steven Odendaal joined forces to triumph on Circuit Paul Ricard’s 5.673-kilometre layout. Since the first edition, seven venues have staged the race. Paul Ricard held its first Bol d’Or in 1979 and the 2023 event, the EWC season finale, will be the 30th at the track. At more than one kilometre in length, the Mistral Straight has turned the race into an exciting battle of attrition.

*The Bol d’Or was first held in 1922 on a five-kilometre circuit of dirt roads between Vaujours, Clichy-sous-Bois and Livry-Gargan.
*Back then it was more a question of survival than an out-and-out race with one rider per bike allowed and no stops except for refuelling.
*Competitors had to wait until 1954 before they could count on a team-mate with a third rider not permitted until 1978.
*While the Bol d’Or celebrated turning 100 in 2022, the event was actually the 85th running and the 29th edition to take place at Circuit Paul Ricard.
*World War II, waning public interest and the COVID-19 pandemic respectively resulted in no Bol d’Or between 1940-46, 1961-68 and 2020.

WHERE: Circuit Paul Ricard, France
LOCATION: RDN8 – 2760 Route des Hauts du Camp 83330 Le Castellet, France
WHEN: 14-17 September 2023
TRACK LENGTH: 5.673 kilometres
BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team – Illya Mykhalchyk, 1m51.641s, 2022
ERC Endurance-Ducati – Xavi Forés, 1m52.979s, 2022

ENTRY LIST: Available at the EWC Media Sportity channel, password: 2023FIMewc-media

LIVE TIMING: https://www.its-live.net/#/live/ewc/2023

2022: Viltaïs Racing Igol (Florian Alt, Erwan Nigon, Steven Odendaal) 718 laps
2021: Yoshimura SERT Motul (Gregg Black, Xavier Siméon, Sylvain Guintoli) 704 laps
2019: Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Vincent Philippe, Étienne Masson, Gregg Black) 313 laps
2018: F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Freddy Foray, Josh Hook, Mike Di Meglio) 698 laps
2017: GMT94 Yamaha (David Checa, Niccolò Canepa, Mike Di Meglio) 683 laps

“This race is more tough for the bikes because we have such a long straight with full throttle, which is obviously not the best for the engine for 24 hours. After that it’s not such a difficult track, it’s a pretty flowing track but you need good references on the track to understand where to brake and also understand the mistral, as we say in France, the wind, which can adjust the braking points. If it’s dry we can manage but you need to understand how the wind can help you in some way and understand when you have to be careful and this is down to experience. I do some extra work in the gym to strengthen my neck because you can feel more tension on the neck with the long straight and the wind. But it’s quite a fun track with a lot of places to overtake which is good for the race.”

EWC PROVISIONAL STANDINGS (full standings at https://www.fimewc.com/standings)

1: F.C.C. TSR Honda France, 138 points
2: Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team, 125
3: BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, 100
4: Yoshimura SERT Motul, 77
5: Team Kawasaki Webike Trickstar , 65
6: Honda Viltaïs Racing, 64
7: TATI Team Beringer Racing, 46
8: ERC Endurance Ducati, 38
9: Team HRC with Japan Post, 35
10: Motobox Kremer Racing, 30

1: Honda, 168 points
2: Yamaha, 110
3: BMW, 86
4: Kawasaki, 77
5: Suzuki, 73

1: Chromeburner-RAC41-Honda, 85 points
2: Honda No Limits, 79
3: National Motos Honda, 77
4: Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team, 69
5: Team 33 Louit April Moto, 65
6: 3ART Best of Bike, 53
7: Wójcik Racing Team, 50
8: TRT27 Bazar 2 la Bécane, 49
9: Slider Endurance, 48
10: Junior Team LMS Suzuki , 25

1: Honda, 120 points
2: Yamaha, 86
3: Kawasaki, 75
4: Suzuki, 70
5: BMW, 44

1: Honda Viltaïs Racing, 91 points
2: KM99, 61
3: Motobox Kremer Racing, 52
4: TATI Team Beringer Racing, 42
5: Honda No Limits, 41

For more info check out our dedicated Endurance World Championship News page Endurance World Championship

or visit the official Endurance World Championship website fimewc.com

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