Digital Edition Subscribers: Read Roadracing World Magazine Now >
Roadracing - An Online Service of Roadracing World Magazine
Sep 6, 2012

BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent Fastest In Provisional Qualifying At The 24 Hours Of Le Mans

FIM Endurance World Championship
Le Mans, France
September 6, 2012
Provisional Qualifying Results:

1. BMW MOTORRAD FRANCE THEVENT (Sebastien GIMBERT 1:37.306/Damian CUDLIN 1:37.123/Erwan NIGON 1:37.623), BMW S1000RR, Superbike, 1:37.351 average time

2. SRC KAWASAKI (Julien DACOSTA 1:36.826/Gregory LEBLANC 1:37.546/Freddy FORAY 1:38.547), Kaw ZX-10R, Superbike, 1:37.640 average time

3. S.E.R.T. (Vincent PHILIPPE 1:37.311/Anthony DELHALLE 1:38.005/Takuya TSUDA 1:38.218), Suz GSX-R1000, 1:37.845 average time

4. YAMAHA FRANCE GMT 94 MICHELIN (David CHECA 1:38.164/Kenny FORAY 1:38.983/Matthieu LAGRIVE 1:38.307), Yam YZF-R1, Superbike, 1:38.485 average time

5. MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA YART (Igor JERMAN 1:38.881/Steve MARTIN 1:39.110/Gwen GIABBANI 1:39.466), Yam YZF-R1, Superbike, 1:39.152 average time

6. BOLLIGER TEAM SWITZERLAND (Horst SAIGER 1:39.672/Roman STAMM 1:39.602/Jerome TANGRE 1:39.972), Kaw ZX-10R, Superbike, 1:39.749 average time

7. HONDA TT LEGENDS (John McGUINNESS 1:40.267/Cameron DONALD 1:40.921/Mathieu GINES 1:39.025), Hon CBR1000RR, Superbike, 1:40.071 average time

8. MACO RACING TEAM (Gregory JUNOD 1:40.115/Gregg BLACK 1:40.476/Lucas DE CAROLIS 1:39.893), Yam YZF-R1, Superbike, 1:40.161 average time

9. YAMALUBE FOLCH ENDURANCE (Daniel RIBALTA 1:39.969/Arturo TIZON 1:39.609/Anthony DOS SANTOS 1:40.982), Yam YZF-R1, Superbike, 1:40.187 average time

10. NATIONAL MOTOS (Vincent BOCQUET 1:40.280/Dylan BUISSON 1:40.984/Etienne MASSON 1:39.532), Hon CBR1000RR, Superbike, 1:40.265 average time

More, from a press release issued by FIM Endurance Press Office:

BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent tops the qualifiers ahead of SRC Kawasaki and Suzuki Endurance Racing Team

The first qualifying session of the 24 Hours of Le Mans took place this afternoon in a highly charged atmosphere. A number of crashes punctuated the first timed practice sessions of this final and deciding round of the 2012 FIM Endurance World Championship.

This afternoon, on the average of its three riders' best lap times, BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent trumped the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), current leaders in the provisional standings with a 19 point lead. « We weren't going for the pole but Erwan Nigon, Damian Cudlin and myself are a very well balanced team » admits official BMW rider Sébastien Gimbert. For Sébastien, the stakes are threefold. He wants to win a 24 Hours race with BMW, beat Kawasaki rider Julien de Costa, his arch-rival in the French Superbike Championship, and clinch a win to celebrate his 35th birthday on Sunday.

"Our goal," team manager Michael Bartholemy, confirms, "is to finally bring home a 24 Hour race. It would be a first for BMW and we have been working hard for it for the past three years."

The SRC Kawasaki took second place on the provisional grid despite a best individual performance by Julien da Costa with a lap in 1'36.826. At SRC Kawasaki, the trio for the race has not yet been finalised. Freddy Foray and Olivier Four are in competition for the third spot alongside Julien da Costa and Gregory Leblanc.

In third place coming out of this first session, the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team confirmed the choice of Takuya Tsuda of Japan to join forces with Vincent Philippe and Anthony Delhalle, rattled by a minor crash. The SERT is ahead of Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube, with Matthieu Lagrive back on the job, and Monster Energy Yamaha YART again fielding its history trio of Igor Jerman, Steve Martin and Gwen Giabbani.

In the top 10 just behind the leaders, the Kawasaki of Bolliger Team Switzerland, Honda TT Legends, the Yamaha of the Maco Racing Team, Yamalube Folch Endurance and Honda National Motos will be ready to seize their chances if the teams out front should miss a trick.

In Superstock, MCP Starteam caused a stir by taking first place in the Superstock class ahead of Junior Team LMS Suzuki and the Suzuki of Team Motors Events AMT Assurances. The second qualifying session will take place tomorrow, Friday, at 11.00 hours.

More, from a press release issued by Honda TT Legends:

Honda TT Legends qualify in provisional seventh at Le Mans

The 35th edition of the 24 Heures du Mans got underway today with the first of two qualifying sessions taking place in warm and sunny conditions. The Honda TT Legends took to the French circuit one-by-one for 30 minutes apiece with the combined fastest times placing them seventh on the provisional grid. BMW Motorrad France secured provisional pole.

John McGuinness and Cameron Donald both posted times in the 1.40s, while stand-in rider and Le Mans specialist Mathieu Gines secured a lap of 1.39:025, equalling a combined average time of 1.40:071. The crew will be making some changes to the bike set-up with the aim of improving lap times in the second qualifying session tomorrow morning.

Simon Andrews has joined the team in Le Mans as reserve and took part in the fourth and final qualifying session today. Reserve rider times do not count towards qualifying, so Andrews was able to steadily reacquaint himself with the Honda TT Legends Fireblade following his crash at the Isle of Man TT in June.

Neil Tuxworth team manager

We've ended up in seventh overall, which is a good position to be in on the first day, but we do need to find some improvement in lap times, particularly for Cameron. We are making some changes to machine following the information provided by all the riders and we hope this will allow us to better our position tomorrow.

John McGuinness

It's not a bad qualification. The top six teams tested here on Tuesday and they're peaking now, so I guess we're a day behind but I think we'll be faster tomorrow. I'm actually quicker already than I was during the whole event last year. Like we always say, qualifying is not the be all and end all here, it's where we're going to be come 3pm on Sunday afternoon that's the most important bit.

Cameron Donald

It didn't go how I would have liked today, I would obviously like to be faster. I was considerably faster here last year. We made one or two changes on the bike that I struggled with a bit but it's getting there. I went fastest on a race tyre, which is always positive and I'm feeling good on the bike. The other boys are doing a great job so we just need to bring our times together a bit and see if we can go faster tomorrow. Bring on another day of sunshine at Le Mans.

Mathieu Gines

It was a good day for me. We didn't test this week so considering that the times are not so bad. I think we can definitely do better tomorrow but for the first day, seventh is ok. I am happy.

Simon Andrews

It was my first time on the bike since the 2 June and it was great. It was so good to be back out there. My arm hurt a little bit and the ache gets worse and worse, but I just took it easy. I came in for a small rest and then just kept chipping away. I was cruising the last sector with the sun in my eyes and in was just so nice, I really enjoyed it and didn't really want it to end. It was mega.

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:

Suzuki Endurance Racing Team is in provisional third position for the Le Mans 24-Hour World Endurance Championship final round this weekend after the opening practice and qualifying sessions at Le Mans in France.

Team regulars Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and guest rider Takuya Tsuda posted a combined time of 1:37,845 around the world-famous and historic Bugatti circuit, 200kms south-west of Paris, as less than half-a-second separated provisional pole-setters BMW Motorrad France, SRC Kawasaki and Le Mans-based SERT.

First rider out, Philippe, was the fastest on SERT's GSX-R1000 with a time of 1:37,311, closely followed by Dehalle on 1:38,005 and then Tsuda with a very-respectable 1:38,218. The trio's combined average time was 1:37,845. But the fastest lap of the day was posted by SRC Kawasaki's Julien da Costa and he was the only rider to dip under 1:37 minutes with a lap of 1:36,826 to put the team in provisional second place on the grid with an average combined time of 1:37,640. But it wasn't enough to beat the BMW's team's average of 1:37,351; Sébastien Gimbert posting the fastest individual time for them with a 1:37,306.

Suzuki's topped the first three positions in the Superstock class with the MCP Starteam posting the fastest combined lap of 1:40.379 ahead of Junior Team LMS Suzuki (1:40.428) and Motors Events AMT Assurance (1:40.448).

Tonight saw an hour-long evening practice session where SRC Kawasaki post the fastest time, Yamaha France GMT 94 second and SERT third again, but these times were not on the pace of the official qualifying results earlier.

Eleven-times World Endurance Champions SERT currently holds a 19-point lead in the series, but with 40 points being awarded to the race winner - and with 40 points separating the top six teams - the 35th-Anniversary 24 Heures du Mans is building-up to be one of the most hotly-contested and exciting season finale's in the history of the series.

Said Team Manager Dominique Meliand: "SERT has only one goal this weekend and that is to win the World Championship title again, but we would be very, very happy to take victory in the 24 hours of Le Mans race as well.

"Vincent Philippe is now up to full strength and completely recovered from his Japanese disappointments at Suzuka and is more motivated than ever to get both the World Championship title and the 24h du Mans victory. Anthony Delhalle is relaxed and knows how to give his best and draw from his reserves.

"Vincent and Anthony are an ideal pairing, but for a 24-hour race we need a trio of riders and that's why we approached Japanese pilot Takuya Tsuda. He finished in fourth place at Suzuka 8-Hours in 2011 and 2012 and his priority will be to support Vincent and Anthony. It is his first visit in Europe and we all believe he will show good results.

"The SERT Team is based at Le Mans so a victory here would mean a lot for us, so let's see what will happen on Saturday from 3pm!"

Thursday Qualifying Results: 1 BMW Motorrad France (BMW) 1:37.351, 2 SRC Kawasaki (Kawasaki) 1:37.640, 3 SERT (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 1:37.845, 4 Yamaha France GMT 94) 1:38.485, 5 Monster Energy Yamaha YART (Yamaha) 1:39.152, 6 Bolliger Team Switzerland (Kawasaki) 1:39.749, 7 Honda TT Legends (Honda) 1:40.071, 8 Maco Racing Team (Yamaha) 1:40.161, 9 Yamalube Folch Endurance (Yamaha) 1:40.187, 10 National Motos (Honda) 1:40.265, 11 MCP Starteam 67 (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 1:40.379 (Top SST Qualifier), 12 Junior Team LMS Suzuki (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 1:40.428 (2nd SST), 13 Motors Events AMT Assurance (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 1:40.448 (3rd SST).