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Sep 7, 2012

BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent Takes Pole Position For The 24 Hours Of Le Mans

BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent (99).
FIM Endurance World Championship
Le Mans, France
September 7, 2012
Final Qualifying Results:

1. BMW MOTORRAD FRANCE THEVENT (Sebastien GIMBERT 1:37.306/Damian CUDLIN 1:37.039/Erwan NIGON 1:37.623), BMW S1000RR, Superbike, 1:37.323 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 1:37.907/Kenny FORAY 1:38.102/Matthieu LAGRIVE 1:37.902), Yam YZF-R1, Superbike, 1:37.937 average time

5. MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA YART (Igor JERMAN 1:38.881/Steve MARTIN 1:38.476/Gwen GIABBANI 1:38.997), Yam YZF-R1, Superbike, 1:38.751 average time

6. MACO RACING TEAM (Gregory JUNOD 1:39.063/Gregg BLACK 1:40.092/Lucas DE CAROLIS 1:39.442), Yam YZF-R1, Superbike, 1:39.532 average time

7. BOLLIGER TEAM SWITZERLAND (Horst SAIGER 1:39.672/Roman STAMM 1:39.323/Jerome TANGRE 1:39.972), Kaw ZX-10R, Superbike, 1:39.656 average time

8. HONDA TT LEGENDS (John McGUINNESS 1:40.267/Cameron DONALD 1:40.423/Mathieu GINES 1:38.902), Hon CBR1000RR, Superbike, 1:39.864 average time

9. MOTORS EVENT AMT ASSURANCES (Michael SAVARY 1:39.330/Frederic CHABOSSEAU 1:40.734/Guillaume DIETRICH 1:39.687), Suz GSX-R1000, Superstock, 1:39.914 average time

10. NATIONAL MOTOS (Vincent BOCQUET 1:40.017/Dylan BUISSON 1:40.984/Etienne MASSON 1:38.813), Hon CBR1000RR, Superbike, 1:39.938 average time

More, from a press release issued by FIM Endurance World Championship:

BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent stays in pole position ahead of SRC Kawasaki and the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team

BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent has confirmed its pole position at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Damian Cudlin even improved on his best lap in the second practice session with a time of 1'37.039 and, with teammates Sébastien Gimbert and Erwan Nigon, he is part of the most evenly balanced crew at the top end of the leader board. However, the Australian rider is not counting his chickens: "Last year too, we were in pole position but the race didn't go our way. The most important work is still to be done tomorrow, as we have some very serious opposition."

Second on the grid, SRC Kawasaki did not manage to better its times this morning. The official Kawasaki clan had a major alert with a crash at the start of the session by Julien da Costa, the rider with the best individual lap yesterday in 1'36.826, who happily emerged unscathed. SRC Kawasaki have yet to announce their third rider: both Freddy Foray and Olivier Four are in the running. The Suzuki Endurance Racing Team is still in third place on the grid, an unwonted position for the multiple world champions who had a minor crash in practice and are fielding a new Japanese rider, Takuya Tsuda, unfamiliar with the circuit.

Most impressive on the track this morning was the Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube. David Checa, Kenny Foray and Matthieu Lagrive all bettered their times of yesterday and are now lying very close to the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team on the average of their best lap times. Reassured by a place on the podium in Suzuka, the Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube is looking good for another podium finish. The same can be said of the Monster Energy Yamaha YART, also faster than yesterday but still in fifth position on the grid thanks to fine performances by Steve Martin et Gwen Giabbani this morning.

Also among this morning's successes was the Yamaha of the Maco Racing Team with Gregory Junod, Gregg Black and Lucas de Carolis, which propelled itself into sixth position ahead of Bolliger Team Switzerland and Honda TT Legends.

In Superstock, Team Motors Events AMT Assurances (Michael Savary, Frédéric Chabosseau and Guillaume Dietrich) set things straight by clinching the first Superstock position on the grid with their Suzuki ahead of the Suzuki of the MCP Starteam and the Junior Team LMS Suzuki.

More, from a press release issued by BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent:

Le Mans, France - 7 September 2012: BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent will start the 24 Heures Moto at Le Mans from pole position for the second time in two years, after a dominant performance saw the #99 BMW S1000RR top the timesheet in both qualifying sessions at the Bugatti circuit.

Damian Cudlin and Erwan Nigon both topped their respective qualifying sessions yesterday, while Sébastien Gimbert placed second in his, but with an almost identical lap time to teammate Nigon. An average time of 1'37.351 was enough to secure BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent provisional pole position at the end of the opening day.

In this morning's final qualifying session it was again Cudlin who set the fastest lap aboard the Michelin shod #99 S1000RR, with a time of 1'37.039 ensuring that, once again, he topped the timesheet in his 30 minute qualifying session. Gimbert also finished his final qualifying session on top, after posting a time of 1'37.644 on his last flying lap, while Nigon was just over a second further back with a time of 1'38.787.

The average of all three lap times was enough to give BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent their second pole position at Le Mans in as many years but, for the riders, the focus remains tomorrow's race and the battle for the championship.

Reigning champions SERT currently top the series standings with a 19-point advantage over BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent, but with 40 points available to the winner here at Le Mans, any one of four teams could still lift the 2012 title on Sunday.

For BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent the aim remains the same; to win on Sunday and leave the championship to resolve itself.

Nigon and Cudlin have never won at Le Mans, while BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent are still looking for an elusive first 24-hour race win. Gimbert has won the 24 Heures Moto previously, but a victory on Sunday would be the perfect way for him to celebrate his 35th birthday.

Damian Cudlin: Pilote Blanc
"Pole position is good for the riders, the team, BMW and Michelin, especially when it comes at the biggest endurance race of the season. But, we've been here before so we we're well aware of the fact that starting the race at the front doesn't guarantee finishing the race at the front. It's going to be a tough race; there are a lot of strong teams out there and the competition is really high now, but we wouldn't have it any other way. We can't be thinking about the championship, we just need to go out there and try and win the race. Sure, if one of the leaders drops out then we can reassess the situation, but we can't afford to hang around, we need to push on from the start and try to control the race from the front."

Sebastien Gimbert: Pilote Bleu
"I'm happy to be on pole for the second time in as many years here at Le Mans. We found a good direction with the bike and the tyres during the Pre- Mans test and we've seen just how fast our package is, but the team are also on top of their game here too. All three riders are on the same pace and that will be important in the race this weekend. As for the race itself, we must push 100 percent from the start because our only option if we want to be in with a chance at the championship title is to win. A victory in the 35th edition of the 24 Heures Moto would be a good way for us to thank BMW, Michelin and our partners for their support, and a great way to celebrate my 35th birthday, which is also on Sunday!"

Erwan Nigon: Pilote Rouge
"Pole position is a good start to the weekend, but the race is long. Everyone has now seen that the #99 BMW is fast, not just on qualifying tyres but also in race trim, and that will certainly give our championship rivals something to think about ahead of the race. Practice and qualifying has gone well for us, with all three riders close on lap times, so now we just need to push in the race. A win on Sunday may not guarantee us the championship title, but it will certainly give us the best chance, so victory must remain our only goal here this weekend."

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"Once again the riders and the team have done a great job here at Le Mans, securing our second pole position in as many years, at what is undoubtedly the biggest race of the season. I'd like to say a big thank you in particular to Hugo Marchand. He's done a great job for us once again as our reserve rider, and he is as important to the team as the three riders who will start the race tomorrow. We go into tomorrow's race knowing a win is our best chance of winning the championship. Even victory here might not be enough, but if we at least cross the line in first place then we can leave Le Mans satisfied that we could do no more. It will be a tough battle, as always, but I have every confidence in the team, in BMW, in Michelin and in our three riders."

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

Eighth place start for Honda TT Legends at Le Mans

The Honda TT Legends will start the final round of the 2012 Endurance World Championship from eighth on the grid following the second qualifying day ahead of the 24 Heures du Mans, which will take place from 15.00 CET on Saturday.

Today's session was delayed due to an oil spillage from the earlier sidecar practice, which meant the first wave of riders were forced to take it relatively steady. As a result, McGuinness was unable to better yesterday's time, however second rider Cameron Donald and third rider Mathieu Gines both improved, posting 1.40.423 and 1.38.902 laps respectively.

Despite a one-place drop to eighth on the grid, the team is happy with today's progress as the main focus was on finding the right race set-up for Saturday's 24-hour battle. The riders and crew are in a positive frame of mind and ready to defend their position in the championship standings at the season finale.

BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent will start from pole, with SRC Kawasaki second and championship leaders SERT third.

Russell Benney race manager

Today's session was upset from the word go after the oil spillage during the sidecar practice. John was under instruction to go cautiously, which he did, and it quickly became evident that the track was about a second slower than yesterday. We knew he wouldn't be able to improve his times so instead we switched the focus to set-up and made some significant changes to rear suspension. That worked out well and took us forward a step. By the time Cameron and Mathieu went out, the oil had been cleared and that allowed them both to make an improvement. Cam did two exceptionally quick first and second sectors and if he hadn't got caught in traffic he would have secured a 1.39 lap, so realistically all our riders are about a second apart. We've had no crashes and no major issues, so overall we are in a good position and feeling positive.

John McGuinness

We're in the top ten, which is not too bad. We've been fifth in the three 24-hour races that we've done so far and I really feel like we deserve a podium. We've worked so hard and hopefully with a bit of luck we can get there. It's a bit of a dream to win the championship this year I think, but you never know what's going to happen. We've made some good changes and we're all a bit happier with the set-up. Let's see what happens in the race.

Cameron Donald

Of course we'd like to qualify higher, we say that at every round, but it's a 24-hour race and the most important thing is that we have a good race set-up. I've struggled a bit this week but at the end of that qualifying session we made some changes and I feel much more comfortable on the bike. I'm feeling positive and I'm confident that I'll be able to do a respectable pace in the race and keep the effort pushing along.

Mathieu Gines

It was a good day for me today and I was able to improve a little this afternoon. The others did some good work with the set-up of the bike and we are all feeling more positive ahead of the race tomorrow. I am really looking forward to it now and I hope we are able to finish in a good position.

The race will be streamed live on the FIM YouTube channel from 15.00 (Central European Time) on Saturday 8 September.

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

Defending Champions Suzuki Endurance Racing Team will start tomorrow's final round of the 2012 World Endurance Championship at Le Mans in France from third position after this afternoon's final qualifying sessions.

With just 600ths-of-a-second separating the top three teams; BMW Motorrad France, SRC Kawasaki and SERT's Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Takuya Tsuda - the same top three from yesterday's first qualifying sessions - only BMW improved its time at the historic Bugatti circuit, 200kms south-west of Paris as Damian Cudlin beat his lap time from yesterday to record a 1:37.039 to boost the team's combined average to 1:37.323. But the fastest lap - set yesterday by SRC Kawasaki's Julien da Costa - stands at 1:36.826; the only sub 1:37 time of the event so far.

In the Superstock class, Suzuki GSX-Rs filled the top three positions: Current Championship leaders Team Motors Events AMT Assurances Michael Savary, Frédéric Chabosseau and Guillaume Dietrich topped the timesheets with a lap of 1:39.914 ahead of MCP Starteam 67 (1:39.941) and Junior Team LMS Suzuki (1:40.128) in third.

There will be a further warm-up session tomorrow morning between 10:30 - 11:15 local time (GMT + 2) with the sprint start to the 35th Anniversary Le Mans 24 Hour Race scheduled for 15:00hrs.