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Apr 13, 2001

Honda RC51 Superbike Tops Le Mans 24-Hour Qualifying

A Honda France RC51 Superbike topped final qualifying for the Le Mans 24-Hour, the opening round of the FIM Endurance World Championship. A Yamaha YZF-R7 Superbike fielded by Yamaha France qualified second-fastest, and the GMT94 team qualified third-fastest on a Super Production-class GSX-R1000. Suzuki-Castrol Racing Team qualified fourth overall on another Super Production Suzuki GSX-R1000.<BR><BR>Seventh-fastest overall and first in the Prototype/Open category is the Scratch Moto Angers team on a Kawasaki ZX-12R. Although the team's bike is said to be the heaviest in the field at over 210 kg, or 463 pounds, the Scratch Moto Angers ZX-12R is said to produce over 200 horsepower. In Thursday night practice, the ZX-12R-mounted team was fourth fastest. <BR><BR>Former AMA 750cc Supersport Champion and current Attack Suzuki rider Jason Pridmore is riding for defending Endurance World Champions Whirley Phase One Suzuki,a dn the team qualified 11th fastest qualifier overall and fourth in the GSX-R1000-dominated Super Production class. The top six teams in Super Production qualifying ran on the new GSX-R1000s, but Whirley Phase One's Suzuki is said to be the lightest at 174 kg, or 383.6 pounds.<BR><BR>The fastest Stocksport qualifier is the Team 22 Police Nationale on a Kawasaki ZX-9R at 16th overall. The Police Nationale Kawasaki heads a field full of Yamaha YZF-R1s.<BR><BR>The 22nd-fastest qualifier is the Maxim Endurance Team on an MV Agusta F4. The MV is second fastest in the Prototype class behind the ZX-12R Kawasaki.<BR><BR>Former Formula USA Champion Michael Barnes is riding for Herman Verboven Racing on a Suzuki GSX-R750. The German HVR team qualified 25th overall and 11th in the Superbike class.<BR><BR>Returning Le Mans veteran and new Shogun Motorsports signee Joe Prussiano and his Bikeshire Racing qualified 40th overall and 11th out of 12 entries in the Super Production class on a Yamaha YZF-R1. During Thursday's night practice, Bikeshire was 35th fastest out of 62 entries.<BR><BR>Last on the grid is the Russian squad of Yukos Motorsport International on a Stock Sport Yamaha YZF-R1.<BR><BR>There are 17 entries in the Superbike class, 12 in Super Production, 29 in Stock Sport, and 4 in Prototype/Open.<BR><BR>Superbikes must follow the same rules as most Superbike classes the world over. Starting with a homologated frame of a 750cc four-cylinder or 1000cc two-cylinder production bike, everything about the bike may be modified within the engine displacement limits. Generally, Le Mans Superbikes are retired factory Superbikes that have been de-tuned for reliability and longevity although factories have been known to roll their dice sending out a front-line Superbike weapon. <BR><BR>Super Production is a new class for 2001. Starting from the Stock Sport rules, the Super Production machines are allowed up to 1000cc for four-cylinder and three-cylinder bikes or 1200cc for twin-cylinder bikes. The Super Production machines are basically stock 1000cc motors in Superbike chassis as rules allow the changing of suspension, frame modification, a 24-liter fuel tank made of any material, and slick tires. The rules do not allow the removal of the electric starter or any modifications to the engine, airbox, carburetors or fuel injectors. Remapping of the EFI and the use of different exhausts are allowed. The FIM has reserved the right to institute air flow restrictions during the course of the season to keep the playing field level.<BR><BR>Stock Sport is similar to American Supersport rules restricting engine and chassis modifications. The only differences being that slicks are used and quick-fill gas caps may be installed. The stock wiring harness must remain in place including the connections for the turn signals.<BR><BR>The Prototype/Open class is a special class allowed by the individual event organizer and does not compete for FIM Championship points or the posted purse. <BR><BR>The 24-Hours of Le Mans starts at 3:00 p.m. Central European Time, or 6:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Saturday April 14, 2000. <BR>