Night drama leaves EWC title race finely balanced and ERC Ducati leading the Bol d’Or by five seconds.
The battle for FIM Endurance World Championship glory has raged throughout the night and shows no sign of relenting as the 100th-anniversary Bol d’Or enters its final eight hours at Circuit Paul Ricard.
Having topped the order at the eight-hour mark and maintained its advantage after a stop and go penalty was handed out following a pitstop infringement just prior to midnight, there was despair for ERC Endurance-Ducati when it was forced to make an unscheduled stop shortly before 00h45 for a replacement clutch. The delay initially dropped the German team down to fourth and promoted TATI Team Beringer Racing into first place.
With F.C.C. TSR Honda France – already delayed by earlier radiator and exhaust issues – in fifth and losing more time due to a second exhaust change at 03h56, TATI Team Beringer Racing appeared to be on course to win the FIM Endurance World Championship for Teams, a remarkable achievement by the Kawasaki-powered French privateer outfit.
Led by four-time Bol d’Or winner Grégory Leblanc and featuring team newcomer Leon Haslam and young star Bastien Mackels, TATI Team Beringer Racing has been on exemplary form and avoided the pitfalls that have struck several rivals, such as BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC and Yoshimura SERT Motul, who managed little or no night running.
But ERC Endurance-Ducati’s bid for a first EWC victory isn’t over, and it was back in front at 06h09, a change of positions that has swung the title pendulum back in F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s favour after the bonus points handed out at the 16-hour mark were applied.
Incredibly, just 5.675s separate the leading duo with eight hours left and the chances of more twists and turns in terms of the outcome of the deciding round of the 2022 EWC remain high.
“We had a couple of issues and lost the lead but we came back into the lead again,” Spanish ERC Endurance-Ducati rider Xavi Forés explained. “It’s still quite difficult and there is only a small difference to the second place. But we’re feeling okay but now it’s more about managing the situation. The bike is working well and we’re on a good pace.”
With Chaz Davies nursing a back injury, Forés and David Checa have done the bulk of the riding through the night. “When you are leading you don’t feel the pain so much,” Forés added.
Wójcik Racing Team currently occupies the final podium spot ahead of Viltaïs Racing Igol, F.C.C. TSR Honda France and Webike SRC Kawasaki France, which has battled back from outside the top 10 after an earlier engine wiring issue. Team Bolliger Switzerland, Team LRP Poland, MACO Racing and Motobox Kremer Racing complete the Formula EWC top 10 ahead of Team Moto Ain, which dropped back during the night having run in the top six.
Early-morning drama leaves RAC41-Chromeburner top of the Superstock order
OG Motorsport by Sarazin was on course for FIM Endurance World Cup glory only for Alex Plancassagne to crash heavily at 02h50. With the safety barriers at Turn 7 in need of repair, the safety car was deployed, as Plancassagne rode back to pitlane with his Yamaha sporting significant damage. Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore inherited the category lead – and strengthened its grip on the title in the process – but two lengthy stops caused by an overheating issue has dropped it out of contention in terms of the race win. BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers is second in class ahead of the pole-sitting Wójcik Racing Team. Pitlane Endurance is currently sixth behind Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore. Technical issues have caused Team 33 Louit April Moto considerable delay, while an earlier crash for Valentin Suchet forced National Motos Honda to retire and left the Swiss rider needing hospital treatment.
Fores’ sensational slipstream overtake an early Bol d’Or highlight
The opening laps delivered more classic FIM Endurance World Championship action with Gregg Black, Mike Di Meglio, Xavi Forés and Markus Reiterberger all taking their turn to lead. But it was Forés who pulled off the most spectacular pass, overtaking his three rivals on a sensational slipstream move on the Mistral Straight.
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