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Sep 14, 2001

Castrol Suzuki On Pole For Bol d'Or 24-Hour; Barnes Stranded In U.S.

By David Swarts

Castrol Suzuki's Brian Morrison, Christian Lavielle and Laurent Brian rode a SuperProduction GSX-R1000 to earn pole position for the Bol d'Or 24-hour World Championship Endurance race, at 1:42.332 around the 2.62-mile Magny Cours track in France. Castrol Suzuki leads the points standings for the Endurance World Cup, the SuperProduction class Championship. The SuperProduction class is the only Championship still undecided. Wim Motors Honda has already clinched the Endurance World Championship with a RC51 Superbike. Police Nationale has clinched the StockSport class title on a Kawasaki ZX-9R.

Like the season-opening 24-hour of Le Mans, the Bol d'Or attracts more television coverage across Europe and in turn more high-profile, factory-supported teams resulting in more Superbike teams higher up in the qualifying results. Second through fifth-place qualifiers at Magny Cours are Superbike class teams.

The fastest Superbike and second-fastest qualifier overall is the Yamaha Pons-Go!!! YZF-R7 (Czade/Mizera/Cogan) with a 1:43.004 average lap time from the three riders' best laps. Third-fastest qualifier overall is Free Bike Performance (Lagrive/Sebileau/Fernandez) with an average lap of 1:43.052 on another Yamaha YZF-R7. Elf Honda (Costes/Foret/Gimbert) qualified fourth on RC51 Superbike with a 1:43.242 average. Yamaha France (Deletang/Willis/Paillot) qualified a Yamaha YZF-R7 fifth overall at 1:44.255.

Qualifying in sixth place overall, second-fastest SportProduction entry, is Endurance World Cup contender GMT94 with a time of 1:44.304 on a Suzuki GSX-R1000. Another SportProduction Championship hopeful is seventh-fastest qualifier Zongshen with an average lap time of 1:44.307 on a Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Herman Verboven Suzuki qualified 12th in Superbike and 33rd overall in the 55-bike field without the services of American Michael Barnes and team regular Jeff Vermeulen. Barnes and Vermeulen were unable to fly to France after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. stopped all U.S. air travel. Belgian Vermeulen has been in America for the last few weeks racing with Barnes' Hooters Suzuki and Innovative Motorcycle Research Formula USA teams at Pocono and Portland. American Andy "Woody" Deatherage is in France riding with the Herman Verboven team.