The 24 Heures Motos has thrown the race for the 2019-2020 FIM Endurance World Championship title wide open. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team consolidated their place as leader, but four other factory teams are in the Top 5 with a chance at claiming the world title.
The 24 Heures Motos 2020 lived up to its promise of being a thrilling, no-holds-barred, action-packed race in frequently tricky track conditions. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team got to Le Mans with a slim 5-point lead over BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, but after a 3rd-place finish at the 24 Heures Motos with riders Etienne Masson, Gregg Black and Xavier Simeon, the factory Suzuki team are 40 points ahead of their rival. However, the main contenders for the title now form a tight group at the top end of the standings.
Four highly motivated factory squads
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team therefore have not one but four rivals to fend off at the 12 Hours of Estoril, to be held at Estoril on 26 September. A maximum of 67.5 points will be up for grabs in the final race, split up among the win, the lead 8 hours into the race, and pole position.
F.C.C. TSR Honda France pocketed practically all the available points at the 24 Heures Motos by winning the race after also being the race leader at the 8-hour and the 16-hour mark, and made a spectacular jump to 2nd place in the provisional standings, 40 points behind Suzuki Endurance Racing Team. The new Honda CBR 1000 RR-R 2020, its Bridgestone tyres and three competitive riders (Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Mike di Meglio) made up the recipe for the Japanese team’s victory at Le Mans. Having claimed the 2017-2018 FIM EWC crown, F.C.C. TSR Honda France are once again targeting the title this season. They will be Suzuki Endurance Racing Team’s best placed and keenest rival at Estoril.
Following their 8 Hours of Sepang win and 4th-place finish at the 24 Heures Motos with riders Marvin Fritz, Niccolò Canepa and Karel Hanika, YART Yamaha are also in the running for the world title. With their 45-point gap to the leader, anything is still possible at Estoril. The Austrian team, who started from pole at Le Mans, are very competitive. After leading in the early stages of the race, they fell back from the front group following a crash. YART Yamaha, the winners of the 2009 FIM EWC world crown, will go all out to conquer a fresh title.
BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team (Kenny Foray, Ilya Mykhalchyk and Markus Reiterberger), Suzuki Endurance Racing Team’s chief rival before the 24 Heures Motos, lost out on 5th place a few minutes before the end of the race at Le Mans after Ilya Mykhalchyk had a crash and was unable to reach the finish line due to his injuries. As a result, the Belgian BMW team were not classed at the 24 Heures Motos and have slipped back to 4th place in the provisional world standings, 45 points behind the leader. The factory BMW team will get to Portugal on 26 September keen to exact revenge.
Now in 5th place, with a 47-point gap to Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar did very well for themselves at Le Mans. Jérémy Guarnoni, Erwan Nigon and David Checa’s 2nd-place finish at the 24 Heures Motos places the 2018-2019 FIM EWC crown winners back in the running for a new title. The Kawasaki-mounted team’s strategy at Estoril will be to gun for the win, whatever it takes.
Forced to withdraw from the race at Le Mans despite running a great race, Ducati-mounted ERC Endurance are the only factory team no longer within reach of the world title. In the saddle of the Panigale V4R, Randy de Puniet, Julien da Costa and Louis Rossi showcased the team’s performance by claiming 5th place on the starting grid, posting one of the race’s fastest laps and positioning themselves in the leading pack before running into technical and electronics-related problems.
Fastest challengers worth keeping an eye on
Statistically speaking, three other teams, all privateers, are still in a position to claim the world title at Estoril: Wójcik Racing Team, VRD Igol Pierret Experiences and 3ART Best of Bike. With a clutch of five factory teams at the top end of the standings, it is very unlikely one of these three teams will win the title, but the three Yamahas will stage an all-out battle in Portugal. At the 24 Heures Motos, VRD Igol Pierret Experiences, 3ART Best of Bike and Wójcik Racing Team respectively finished in 5th, 6th and 7th place.
At Estoril, the battle for top independent team will be as fierce as the fight for the title.
Close fight for the FIM Superstock World Cup
In this class, the fight for the World Cup will take place, like last season, between two teams: Moto Ain and GERT56 by GS Yuasa. The winners of last year’s crown, Yamaha-mounted French team Moto Ain, will get to Estoril with a lead of only 26 points over the German BMW-mounted team GERT56 by GS Yuasa, who are on top form after their Superstock win at the 24 Heures Motos. Third in the provisional standings, Italy’s No Limits Motor Team on Suzuki still have a chance at winning the Cup if one of the two leaders fall short, or they could be the decider in the fight between the two claimants to the win.
The 12 Hours of Estoril, the finale of the 2019-2020 FIM EWC season, will be raced on the Estoril circuit near Lisbon on Saturday 26 September.