At 15:00 on the dot, Jorge Viegas, president of the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), waved the flag to start this year’s 24H Motos, unleashing the 59 bikes for motorcycle endurance racing’s most famous event. A few minutes before the start, Dominique Méliand, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team manager, joined the 24H Motos Hall of Fame in recognition of his 10 Le mans wins, his 15 Endurance World Championship titles and his 16 triumphs at the Bol d’Or.
As the 59 competitors in the 24H Motos lined up on the starting grid, Jorge Viegas, the race’s honorary starter revelled in the glorious spring sunshine and what he described as “the best crowd in the world”. The #6 BMW run by Team ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance started from pole but the #2 Suzuki fielded by Suzuki Endurance Racing Team had already taken the lead by the end of the first lap. The first half-hour of the race – the second round of the 2018-19 FIM EWC Endurance World Championship – saw an epic battle between Randy De Puniet (#111 Honda Endurance Racing) and Jérémy Guarnoni (#11 Kawasaki, Team SRC Kawasaki France), as well as a few falls requiring the safety car to be deployed.
All three classes will be hotly disputed, much to the fans delight. Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki and BMW are all keen to take the crown from Honda, last year’s 24H Motos winner, and the five motorcycle manufacturers proved to be on a par during the qualifying sessions. The Superstock and Experimental classes also promise a thrilling show for spectators.
There may be a few favourites for the win, but it would take a brave punter to confidently predict the first bike past the chequered flag at 15:00 tomorrow!
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