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Apr 15, 2013

FIM Endurance World Championship Begins With Bol d'Or 24-Hour Race This Coming Weekend

FIM Endurance World Championship: FIM 1000cc Superstock Champion Sylvain Barrier (99) testing on the BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent S1000RR.
The Bol d’Or at Magny-Cours kicks off the Season with 29 permanent teams

The 2013 season of the FIM Endurance World Championship promises to be another exciting trip. The first stop is the Bol d’Or at Magny Cours on 20 and 21 April. This 24 hour race is expected to draw 51 teams including 29 permanent crews who will fight it out for the title in Formula EWC, the premium class, and in Superstock for the FIM Endurance World Cup.

As 2012 FIM Endurance World Champion and holder of 12 world titles, the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) is still the team to beat. Dominique Méliand, team manager of the SERT, is fielding a stellar trio of riders. Julien Da Costa, former linchpin of the official SRC Kawasaki team, winner of the Bol d’Or and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2012, will be joining the formidable duo, Vincent Philippe and Anthony Delhalle. The SERT’s fourth man will be Alex Cudlin of Australia.

SERT may be the pre-season favourites but the factory teams are up for the fight. BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent is regrouping after losing Erwan Nigon and Damian Cudlin to the German Superbike Championship. The Belgian factory team will be relying on the trusty Sébastien Gimbert, and team manager Michael Bartholemy has signed up reinforcements in the form of Sylvain Barrier, winner of the 2012 FIM Superstock 1000 Cup, Karl Muggeridge, back after several brilliant seasons in IDM, and AMA Superbike star Jake Zemke.

At Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube, they are sticking with their winning line-up. Christophe Guyot has recruited Maxime Berger as a substitute alongside David Checa, Matthieu Lagrive and Kenny Foray. In contrast, at Monster Energy Yamaha YART, Igor Jerman and Katsuyuki Nakasuga are being joined on the Austrian Yamaha by Broc Parkes and Josh Waters from Australia. At Honda TT Legends, John McGuinness and Simon Andrews will be supported by two more TT specialists, Michael Dunlop and Michael Rutter.

The SRC Kawasaki has made up for the loss of Julien Da Costa by signing two riders who made their mark in the Superbike World Championship and the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup, Loris Baz and Jérémy Guarnoni. But the SRC will be only be fielding its crew in the Bol d’Or and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Private team Team Bolliger Switzerland remains the best looking Kawasaki among the permanent teams.

Among the privateers, though, several teams have serious ambitions. Team R2CL (Suzuki) has signed up specialists Gwen Giabbani and Guillaume Dietrich alongside Dylan Buisson while FMA Assurances is entrusting its Honda to Gregg Black, Marc Fissette and Allard Kerkhoven. Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers is moving to Kawasaki and has added Lucas de Carolis to its crew of Stéphane Molinier and David Brière.

In Superstock, the field looks pretty open. 2012 FIM World Cup winners Racing Team (BMW) is counting on Pedro Vallcaneras, Jason Pridmore, Hayato Takada and Steve Mercer to hold off an armada of ambitious rivals. Second in Superstock in 2012, 3D Endurance Moto Center (Kawasaki) is joining the permanent teams with FIM Superstock 1000 rider Romain Lanusse, Stéphane Egea and Fabrice Holub. Starteam PAM Racing (Suzuki), third in Superstock in 2012, have more in their sights in 2013 with Sébastien Prulhière, Axel Maurin and Kevin Longearet.

After a great 2012 season, Atomic MotoSport (Suzuki) is also pursuing the FIM World Cup with Cédric Tangre, Frédéric Jond and Robin Camus. After winning the FIM Endurance World Cup in 2011, Team Motors Events April Moto (Suzuki) is looking to make a comeback with Grégory Fastré, Michael Savary, Claude Lucas and Clément Chevrier. DG Sport Herock (Yamaha) is also fielding a handy trio made up of Didier Van Keymeulen, Raymond Schouten and Lucas Mahias.

At the Bol d’Or, these permanent teams will also be up against a Junior Team LMS Suzuki determined to slough off its ill starred 2012 season. Baptiste Guittet, Etienne Masson, Nans Chevaux and Nicolas Pouhair will be in contention for a Superstock win at the Bol d’Or and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The first practice sessions will take place on Thursday 18 April on the Magny-Cours circuit in Nièvre, France.

The start of the 77th Bol d’Or will be at 3:00 p.m. on 20 April.

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

Eupen, Belgium - 15 April 2013: BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent head to Magny-Cours in France this week, determined to get their 2013 Endurance World Championship campaign off to a flying start with a strong showing in the 77th edition of the Bol d'Or.

The team has won two shorter format races and racked up numerous podium finishes and pole positions on the way to twice finishing second in the Endurance World Championship but, so far, a 24-hour race win has eluded them.

This is a situation that the team's four riders - Sébastien Gimbert, Sylvain Barrier, Karl Muggeridge and Jake Zemke - would be happy to rectify this weekend at Magny-Cours. However, the main goal is to take no undue risks, finish strongly and bank as many championship points as possible in the opening race of the 2013 season.

The 2013 Bol d'Or gets underway with free practice, first qualification and night practice on Thursday 18th April. Final qualifying takes on Friday 19th April and the race starts at 15.00 on Saturday 20th April.

Sébastien Gimbert:
"Last year our race was very short, with a crash bringing it to an end after just a few hours. We can't afford to do that again this season, as with only four races it would be almost impossible to recover. But we do need to push this weekend because, for the same reason, we need as many points as possible from the Bol d'Or. We have a strong team, a competitive bike and we know that Michelin have a tyre for all conditions at Magny-Cours, where the weather can be somewhat unpredictable this early in the season. A win this weekend would be the perfect start to the season, and we'll be pushing for that, but we must also keep in mind that championship points are equally important to our title challenge."

Sylvain Barrier:
"If you're French then endurance racing is in your blood, so I'm really looking forward to this weekend's Bol d'Or. Preseason testing went well, despite the cold and wet conditions at Magny-Cours. I was quick to adapt to the endurance version of the BMW S1000RR and really impressed with the performance of the Michelin tyres. It was also good to spend some time with my teammate, Sébastien Gimbert, who has a lot of experience of endurance racing. Of course we would like to win, and we have the package to do this, but the main target is to finish and score points, as our focus this season is on the championship and not just one race."

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"I have no doubt that our four riders will be thinking about winning this weekend in Magny-Cours, but we also need to be a little cautious and not take any unnecessary risks. Last year we crashed out of the Bol d'Or, which put us on the back foot from the start of the season. We fought back to challenge for the championship in the final round, but this season we have one less race to make up any points deficit, so a finish this weekend is even more important. I have every confidence in our four riders and, together with our BMW S1000RR and Michelin tyres, we have a package with which we can, realistically, aim for the podium this weekend at Magny-Cours."

Marcel Driessen: Director, BMW Motorrad France
"The new season is finally upon us and I am proud to see such a strong rider line up on our BMW S1000RR for the Bol d'Or. We have achieved a lot in a very short time in the Endurance World Championship, but now we need to prove we can also win 24-hour races. I truly believe we can do exactly that this weekend. The competition is strong, as always, but I have every confidence in our bike, our riders and our team and I'm looking forward to seeing them racing at the front once again at Magny-Cours."

77th Edition Bol d'Or - Schedule

Thursday 18th April
11.30 - 12.30: Free Practice
17.10 - 17.30: Qualification - Brassards Bleus
17.40 - 18.00: Qualification - Brassards Blancs
18.10 - 18.30: Qualification - Brassards Rouges
18.40 - 19.00: Qualification - Brassards Verts
21.00 - 22.00: Night Practice

Friday 19th April
12.20 - 12.40: Qualification - Brassards Bleus
12.50 - 13.10: Qualification - Brassards Blancs
13.20 - 13.40: Qualification - Brassards Rouges
13.50 - 14.10: Qualification - Brassards Verts

Saturday 20th April
10.30 - 11.15: Warm Up
14.30: Start Procedure
15.00: Start of the 77th edition of the Bol d'Or

2013 Endurance World Championship Calendar
20-21 April Bol d'Or Magny Cours, France
27-28 July Suzuka 8 Hours Suzuka, Japan
16-17 August 8 Hours of Oschersleben Oschersleben, Germany
21-22 September 24 Heures Moto Le Mans, France