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Apr 19, 2008

Suzuki Endurance Racing Teams Leading After Nine Hours At Le Mans

After nine hours of race at Le Mans, the two Suzuki Endurance Racing Team are dominating the event. In the lead since the third hour, the Suzuki nr.1 of Vincent Philippe, Matthieu Lagrive and Julien da Costa and the number 2 of William Costes, Guillaume Dietrich and Barry Veneman are pulling a gap from their competitors.

At midnight, there was a battle for the third position between the French Yamaha Acropolis Moto Expert of Grégory Fastré, Gregory Leblanc and Anthony Dos Santos and the British Yamaha of Phase One Endurance, ridden by James Haydon, Damian Cudlin and James McBride. Phase One Endurance did a faultless race so far and went through the traps of the wet track at the beginning of the race.

For many hours, Phase One Endurance had to dispute the third position against the Spaniards of Yamaha YMES Folch Endurance. Dani Ribalta, Pedro Lluis Valcaneras and Felipe Lopez were holding tight their place on the podium. Just before midnight, however, a problem with the rear wheel axle sent the Yamaha YMES Folch Endurance back beyond the twentieth position.

Another bike, the Suzuki Infini Team Yohann Moto Sport, of brothers Jérôme and Cédric Tangre, and Christophe Michel, is sticking to the leading group since the beginning of the race.

The Junior Team Suzuki managed to get rid of their braking problems and took back the lead of the Superstock class. On this Suzuki 72, Emeric Jonchière, Kenny Foray and Luca de Carolis are leading that class ahead of the Suzuki Qatar Endurance Racing Team IJT of Mashel and Sultan Al Naimi and Anthony Delhalle.

The French Yamaha Endurance Moto 38, the German Honda of RMT 21 and the Kawasaki Switzerland are all holding to the top ten. Other permanent teams experienced diverse disappointments. The Diablo 666 Bolliger went off the track at the beginning of the race, but the bike rode up to the seventeenth position so far.

In the Open class, the two BMW Motorrad are still going on with their race, around the fifteenth position. The Metiss Birh is twentieth. On the other hand, the Ducati Endurance Racing Team had to retire after the gearbox broke down.

The race was very hectic at the beginning. In the first hours, heavy downpour combined with the traditional Endurance hazards knocked down many of the favourites. The Kawasaki France ended up its race after five laps only, after Julian Mazuecos crashed when the rain poured on the track. The official Kawasaki had managed then to take the lead from the start ahead of the two Suzuki Endurance Racing Team.

Just after 5 pm, as the Yamaha France GMT 94 was leading over the Suzuki 1 and 2, Sébastien Gimbert had to leave his motorcycle on the side of the track after his clutch collapsed.

The National Motos 55 also had to retire following mechanical problems. The Honda could not do more than one lap at Le Mans before the gearbox broke down. National Motos will try to forget about this 2008 edition, which started with difficult qualifying sessions and a forty-fifth position on the starting grid.

Igor Jerman's crash at around 4 pm was fatal for the Yamaha Austria Racing Team. In fourth position after one hour of race, the bike never got out of the pits again. Same problem for Midi Pyrénées MV Agusta. After the crash of Patrick Piot and a second one from Josep Monge, the MV Agusta had to throw in the towel. In the top five during the beginning of the race, Midi Pyrénées MV Agusta had to loose time after a stop and go due to a late start for the sighting laps.

The adventure went over for the Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers after Guillaume Pialoux crashed and a fire started on the bike. The "Firemen" had managed to hold to a fifteenth position during the first hour of the race.