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Sep 22, 2013

Team SRC Kawasaki Wins 24 Hours Of Le Mans, SERT Takes Another FIM Endurance World Championship

FIM Endurance World Championship: Team SRC Kawasaki (11). Photo by www.good-shoot.com, courtesy of FIM.
FIM Endurance World Championship/24 Hours of Le Mans
Le Mans, France
September 22, 2013
Overall Race Results:

1. Team SRC Kawasaki (Gregory Leblanc/Fabien Foret/Nicolas Salchaud), Superbike, Kaw ZX-10R, 820 laps, 24:00:11.357

2. Team R2CL (Guy Martin/Dylan Buisson/Gwen Giabbani), Suz GSX-R1000, Superbike, -7 laps

3. Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube (David Checa/Kenny Forey/Matthieu Lagrive), Yam YZF-R1, Superbike, -8 laps

4. Team 18 Sapeurs-Pompiers (Stephane Molinier/Cedric Tangre/David Briere), Kaw ZX-10R, Superbike, -14 laps

5. Team Motors Events April Moto (Gregory Fastre/Michael Savary/Claude Lucas), Suz GSX-R1000, Superstock, -14 laps, 43.009 seconds

6. Junior Team LMS Suzuki (Baptiste Guittet/Etienne Masson/Guillaume Dietrich), Suz GSX-R1000, Superstock, -16 laps

7. Maco Racing Team (Massimo Rocolli/Alex Baldolini/Jose Manuel Luis Rita), Yam YZF-R1, Superbike, -17 laps

8. National Motos (Arturo Tizon Ibanez/Gregory Junod/Olivier Four), Hon CBR1000RR, Superbike, -22 laps

9. Synergyforce Trickstar (Tamaki Serizawa/Osamu Deguchi/Koji Teramoto), Kaw ZX-10R, Superbike, -22 laps, 40.260 seconds

10. Team Louit Moto 33 (Florian Marino/Lorenzo Savadori/Emeric Jonchiere), Kaw ZX-10R, Superstock, -23 laps


26. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Vincent Philippe/Julien Da Costa/Alex Cudlin), Suz GSX-R1000, Superbike, -72 laps


37. BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent (Sebastien Gimbert/Sylvain Barrier/Josh Waters), BMW S1000RR, Superbike, -359 laps


39. Monster Energy Yamaha YART (Broc Parkes/Josh Hayes/Igor Jerman), Yam YZF-R1, Superbike, -405 laps


46. Penz13.com Frankes Autowelt Racing Team (Jason Pridmore/Pedro Vallcaneras/Steve Mercer), BMW S1000RR, Superstock, -628 laps

47. Honda TT Legends (Michael Rutter/Simon Andrews/Michael Dunlop), Hon CBR1000RR, Superbike, -634 laps




More, from a press release issued by FIM Endurance Press Office:

SRC Kawasaki chalks up its 4th win at Le Mans and Suzuki Endurance Racing Team takes its 13th World title

SRC Kawasaki has added one more to its streak of three wins at the Le Mans 24 Hours. This fourth success for Gilles Stafler’s team is also the fourth for one of its crew members, Gregory Leblanc. Despite a minor crash for Fabien Forêt towards the end of Saturday afternoon, the factory Kawasaki with Nicolas Salchaud as third man quickly made its way back into the leading trio and went on to benefit from the mechanical problems that dogged BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent. The BMW ridden by Sébastien Gimbert, Sylvain Barrier and Josh Waters was in the lead for nine hours before a broken gearbox forced it out of the race during the night.

The amazing Suzuki of R2CL took the second spot on the podium. This much fancied private machine with Britain’s Guy Martin and French riders Gwen Giabbani and Dylan Buisson on board pulled out a perfect race, totally undaunted by the factory teams. The R2CL finished 7 laps behind the SRC Kawasaki but managed to hold off the Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube. After night-time crashes that affected the gearbox, David Checa, Kenny Foray and Matthieu Lagrive clawed their way back on to the podium, finishing third, two laps behind the R2CL.

After a fine performance, especially in the closing stages, Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers on a Kawasaki took a richly deserved fourth place with Stéphane Molinier, Cédric Tangre and David Brière. At the finish, they just saw off the first of the Superstock machines, Team Motors Events April Moto. On this Suzuki, Gregory Fastré, Michael Savary and Claude Lucas won the Superstock 2013 FIM Endurance World Cup after the BMW of Penz13.com Franks Autowelt Racing Team, top of the Superstock leader board going into Le Mans, was forced to drop out with mechanical problems. Despite a crash that put them temporarily outside the top 40, Junior Team LMS Suzuki and its riders Baptiste Guittet, Etienne Masson and Guillaume Dietrich went all out to grab 6th place and finish as Superstock runners up. Third in the Superstock race, Team Louit Moto 33 deserves no less credit as it also had to chase its way back into contention after being involved in a group crash early in the race.

Also in the top 10 are the Yamaha of Maco Racing with a 7th place that is a season’s best, Honda National Motos, forced out of 5th place by gearbox problems, and the Japanese crew of SynergieForce Trickstar with a fine 9th place for their début appearance at Le Mans.

This 36th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours was an eventful one for the top teams from word go with two successive crashes for David Checa on the Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube and one for Vincent Philippe on the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team and finally a crash for de Fabien Forêt on the SRC Kawasaki at the end of the afternoon. The only factory teams to avoid crashing, BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent, Monster Energy Yamaha YART and Honda TT Legends found themselves in first, second and third 5 hours into the race. An impressive group crash just short of the Musée bend put an end to the podium ambitions of Honda TT Legends. It also forced out the Kawasaki 3D Endurance Moto Center, the Suzuki of MCS Racing Ipone and the Kawasaki of Team Flembbo Leader Team. BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent and Monster Energy Yamaha YART succumbed to mechanical problems and dropped out during the night.

The Suzuki Endurance Racing Team also had a disappointing race. The crash was followed by a series of mechanical problems and an overheating engine. Dominique Méliand’s team spent almost an hour and a quarter changing a cylinder head seal and repairing the crankcase. Vincent Philippe, Julien Da Costa and Alex Cudlin then went back into the fray in turn some 70 laps behind the leaders. The Suzuki Endurance Racing Team finished 26th overall but 12th in EWC, taking its 13th FIM Endurance World Championship title ahead of Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube and SRC Kawasaki.

What they said…

Gregory Leblanc, rider with SRC Kawasaki
“We managed to put pressure on the Suzuki and they made a mistake but Fabien Forêt was dragged into a crash by another rider and we lost 4 laps. But we only do the Bol d’Or and Le Mans and we are always in it to win. We gave it all we had.”

Gwen Giabbani, rider with Suzuki R2CL
“It was a gamble to come back with the R2CL after riding a factory bike, the team R2CL made a convincing case for their project and the gamble paid off!”

Raphael Chaussé, team manager of R2CL
“We got a great helping hand from Suzuki when they let us recruit Guy Martin, who immediately found his place in the team.”

Mathieu Lagrive, rider with Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube
“I’ve never had so many problems in a race. I have been 3rd and five times runner up at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Maybe I’ll win it one day!”

David Checa, rider with Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube
“It’s the first time I’ve crashed twice in three laps! I don’t understand what happened! The crashes only cost us three laps but the consequences were much more of a problem.”

Vincent Philippe, rider with Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, 2013 FIM Endurance World Champion
“I made a mistake braking but that little crash had enormous consequences: a cracked crankcase, a radiator leak, an overheating motor and a broken cylinder head seal. The mechanics went at it hammer and tongs for over an hour. We had to keep believing but it’s hard to ride without the fight out front.”

Dominique Méliand, team manager of Suzuki Endurance Racing Team
“We are disappointed because I wanted it all. I wanted to win the title and the race! I started out in endurance in 1969 and I have learned that you must never give up. The crew were just great. When I said we would have to take the engine out to fix a cylinder head seal, no one said a thing even though we weren’t sure it would work. But it held for over 20 hours!”




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

Honda TT Legends withdraw following Le Mans crash

The Honda TT Legends team has retired from the 24 Heures Moto at Le Mans, France after Simon Andrews was involved in a four-bike crash during the sixth hour of the race.

Andrews was conscious and coherent following the incident and was taken to circuit’s medical centre for immediate assessment, before being transferred to hospital with a broken left ankle and suspected chest injuries. He will undergo x-rays to determine any further damage.

The Honda TT Legends were running in third place at the time of the accident with 18 hours remaining in the 24-hour race. The bike was deemed irreparable and the team was forced to retire from the race.

Further updates will be provided as and when they are available.




More, from a press release issued by Penz13.com Franks Autowelt Racing Team:

Penz13.com Franks Autowelt forced to retire from the 24 hours of Le Mans

Le Mans. The Penz13.com Franks Autowelt Racing Team had to retire from the 24 hours of Le Mans in France today, Saturday, around 23 o’clock. After six hours of racing the team around Rico Penzkofer and Crewchief Gordon Unger decided to quit the race early. The team collided with another opponent earlier in the race and the result of this was a technical problem, which could not be repaired. It is the first DNF for the Saxonian squad in the FIM World Endurance Championship since the beginning of 2010 with a crash back then. Ever since the squad managed to finish every race until today.

The race itself started good at Le Mans. During the first hour the trio of Pedro Vallcaneras (ESP), who rode the starting turn, Steve Mercer (GBR) and Jason Pridmore (USA) made their way up in the rankings and rode at the sharp end of the Superstock category. Certainly it happened on Mercers first stint, that the team collided with another opponent and the faithful BMW S 1000 RR took an irreparable damage. After multiple attempts to fix the bike - also in cooperation with the BMW HP Race Support - the team had to recognize the race was over.

The legendary 24 hours of Le Mans are going on till Sunday, 15 o’clock and only by then the Penz13.com Franks Autowelt Racing Team will know something about the final championship position in the FIM World Endurance Superstock Cup. The main rivals in the title fight - Team Motors Events April Moto - are leading the Superstock class at the moment.

Steve Mercer, who had to push the bike back to the pits - with a flat tire and broken rim - after the collision, had a circulatory collapse after another stint. The Brit is for observation in hospital but doctors told the team he is ok so.

Rico Penzkofer, Team Principal:
„That’s how it sometimes goes in Endurance racing! Pity! Of course we are disappointed, but we also won so many times together, now we have to loose together as a team for once. We still can be proud on our achievements as it is our first Endurance race we did not finish since the beginning of 2010. Until now the weekend was good, but it wasn’t meant to be. Pity! I still want to thank everyone who supported me and my squad, all our riders, mechanics, helpers and sponsors - just everyone.”

Gordon Unger, Crewchief:
“It’s a big big shame. Of course we are disappointed that we had to retire, but it is the right decision. I want to thank everyone in the team and all, who helped us. Especially I want to mention the BMW HP Race Support with Kurt Böck and Berti Hauser, who helped us lap-by-lap when we were trying to get the bike repaired and also apart from that all season! Let’s roll on!”

Pedro Vallcaneras, rider:
„As Rico said: we won so many things together, but now we have to loose together. It’s a shame but this can happen sometimes. The team hasn’t done anything wrong! This squad was giving it’s maximum all the time and most of the time we had the luck on our side. Only this time we had bad luck. Let’s do it again 2014!”

Jason Pridmore, rider:
„To be honest: It’s a hard but the right decision. Of course it is a shame that such a great season found a bad end, but you have to accept that. Our bike, our BMW S 1000 RR, always worked brilliantly and the Penz13-Team is one of the best I have ever ridden for. A shame! But we are coming back, I promise!”




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

Honda TT Legends: update on the condition of Simon Andrews
Following a four-bike crash in the sixth hour of the 24 Heures Moto at Le Mans yesterday, Honda TT Legends rider Simon Andrews has suffered two broken legs, a broken forearm and shoulder, broken ribs causing a punctured lung and three broken vertebrae in his lower back.

Andrews is currently in surgery for an operation to his leg. Further updates will be provided as and when they are available.




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

Le Mans, France - 22 September 2013: BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent were forced to retire from the 24 Heures Moto at Le Mans due to a terminal mechanical problem after 14 hours of racing.

The #99 BMW S1000RR, ridden by Sylvain Barrier, Josh Waters and Sébastien Gimbert, led the race for nine hours to the halfway point, before losing time to a minor problem with the exhaust and dropping back to second place.

Waters was pushing to make up time on the leading SRC Kawasaki when he encountered problems downshifting. The Australian returned to the pit box, where the team mechanics worked to rectify a mechanical problem with the gearshift mechanism.
Despite their best efforts the problem proved terminal, with Gimbert returning to the pit box for the final time after just one lap, leaving the team with no option but to retire the #99 BMW from the race.

The bikes will be returned to BMW in Munich, where they will be stripped and analysed to ascertain the exact cause of the gearshift problem.

It was a bitter blow for BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent, who were on track to end their 2013 Endurance World Championship campaign on a high, before the mechanical failure put them out of the season finale with 10 hours of the race left to run.

Sylvain Barrier // @BarrierSylvain
"It's a shame, a real shame it had to end this way, because the team and my teammates on the bike worked really hard since the beginning of the weekend. We rode a good race and kept things on a level plane, not too high, not too low, so to go out in this way is frustrating. But now we need to work, even harder than we did this weekend, to make sure we don't have the same problem in the future."

Josh Waters // @Joshwaters21
"Really disappointed to hold a two-lap lead through what most people say is the hardest part of the night, only to go out of the race with a mechanical problem. You could see from the timing screens that we were holding our own at the front, only for this to happen. The team did a great job and I'd like to thank them for giving me this opportunity. It's a hard way to finish, no question, but racing can be like that sometimes."

Sébastien Gimbert
"It doesn't matter how long you lead the 24 Hours of Le Mans for, only your position when you see the chequered flag is important. This weekend we had a fast bike, fast tyres and three fast and safe riders, backed by a strong team. We didn't crash, we didn't make any mistakes, but we're still out of the race after a mechanical. It's hard on everyone; the team, my teammates and me, but that's the 24 Hours of Le Mans for you; it's a tough race. "

Volker Scheck: Team Principal
"Obviously we're bitterly disappointed to go out of the race in this way, especially after leading until after the halfway point, but that's endurance racing for you. The mechanical failure that put us out of the race is not something we've encountered before. It's not been possible to identify the cause of the problem here at Le Mans, but this will be the priority when the bikes are returned to the workshop. The team has done a fantastic job here at Le Mans. I know they are devastated by the retirement, but they can hold their heads high after a job well done. The same is true of our riders, who were equally committed to our goal this weekend. They rode a sensible race and took advantage of the mistakes of others to lead until half race distance. We can't ask more of them than that. It's a frustrating end to what has been a difficult season, but we'll regroup over the winter and come back stronger in 2014."

For more information and additional high resolution images please visit the BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent website at www.thevent.eu.




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

SUZUKI WINS WORLD ENDURANCE TITLE AT LE MANS!

Suzuki Endurance Racing Team has won the 2013 FIM World Endurance Championship after a drama-packed final round at Le Mans in France today that saw the Suzuki GSX-R1000-mounted team charge from last position after a small crash and subsequent cooling problem forced a complete engine rebuild on Saturday evening.

SERT riders Vincent Philippe, Julien Da Costa and Alex Cudlin clinched the French team's 13th World Endurance Championship title by five points from Yamaha GMT 94 after 24 hours of racing - almost two of them spent in the pits - finishing 26th overall and 12th in class.

Suzuki's GSX-R1000 machine also dominated the Superstock Class; Team Motors Events April Moto winning the race from Junior Team LMS, with both near standard production Suzuki GSX-R machines claiming fifth and sixth places respectively overall at the Circuit Bugatti. Team Motors Events also captured the FIM Superstock Cup title. To add even more Suzuki GSX-R1000 success to the podium, Team R2CL - who fielded Tyco Suzuki's TT rider Guy Martin to its Le Mans squad - captured second overall in the event; narrowly missing third position in the World Endurance Championship standings.

SERT, who clinched its fourth-consecutive World Endurance Championship title and eighth aboard the Suzuki GSX-R1000 - four being won on Suzuki GSX-R750 machines and its first title in 1983 on a Suzuki GS1000 - topped the timesheets in both Thursday and Friday qualifying sessions; despite the loss of regular team member Anthony Delhalle, who broke his leg and collarbone in a mid-week practice crash. And, despite setting the pace in the early stages of the race, the Le Mans-based squad began a war of attrition when a gentle slide-off by Philippe after just 15 minutes, due to suspected fluid leakage on the Dunlop Chicane, started a chain-reaction of issues inside the Suzuki GSX-R engine that required a further eight quick-fire pit-stops from Philippe; and Team Manager Dominique Meliand's subsequent decision for his crew to completely strip and rebuild the engine in less than an hour, to repair the damage done by the crash-damaged cooling system.

It was a bold but well-timed move; and although SERT slipped back to 54th position, the defending World Champions got back into the race with Da Costa taking his first session and tasked with running-in the newly-rebuilt machine. From that point, the Suzuki trio forged consistent lap-times, cut everything down to minimal pit-stops; and also took advantage of other teams suffering similar drama: Race winners SRC Kawasaki were knocked-off before clawing-back through the pack, Monster YART - who were in a championship-winning position at one point, - were forced to retire along with mid-race leaders BMW Motorrad France; and also GMT 94, who were the first leading team within grasp of the title to crash-out on the problem corner; team leader David Checa remounting from a similarly-unusual slip-off to Philippe's.

The most serious race incident involved Honda TT Legends' Michael Rutter, Michael Dunlop and Simon Andrews, (regular team rider John McGuiness handing-over his race slot to Dunlop), which was running in a strong third position in the race. The team was caught-up in a high-speed five-rider incident as the event progressed into the night and Andrews suffered two broken legs, broken ribs, a punctured lung and several fractured vertebrae, but was stable and undergoing surgery earlier today. However, the machine was destroyed and the team withdrew.

Drama also surrounded the Superstock class with series leaders Penz13.com Franks Autowelt BMW being one of the large amount of 20 race retirements and being forced-out after 192 laps; which gave Team Motors Events April Moto's Gregory Fastre, Michael Savary and Claude Lucas a chance to claw-back the team's 11-point deficit and take the title ahead of Suzuki's Junior Team LMS riders Baptiste Guittet, Etienne Masson and Guillaume Deitrich.

Long-standing SERT rider Philippe, who handed his normal 'race-finish' slot over to team stand-in Cudlin, said: "That was such a crazy race; it's very good for the team though. I'm just sorry that I made that mistake so early-on, but the team was brilliant in sorting the problem and I'm happy for everyone involved. I made a mistake braking but that little crash had enormous consequences: a cracked crankcase, a radiator leak, an overheating motor and a broken cylinder head seal. The mechanics went at it hammer and tongs for over an hour. We had to keep believing but it's hard to ride without the fight out front."

SERT Team Manager Dominique Méliand said: "We are disappointed because I wanted it all. I wanted to win the title and the race! I started out in Endurance in 1969 and I have learned that you must never give up. The crew were just great. When I said we would have to take the engine out to fix a cylinder head seal, no one said a thing even though we weren't sure it would work. But it held for over 20 hours!"

Team R2CL's Guy Martin, who joined regulars Dylan Buisson and Gwen Giabbani added: "I'm over the moon; that was mega! It's not about me though - it's about the team, as I was just a passenger. It's all about these boys and they are legend!"

Le Mans 24-Hour Image Gallery (David Reygondeau/ www.Good-Shoot.com): CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS

Le Mans 24-Hour Results (WEC & Superstock): 1 Team SRC Kawasaki (Kawasaki) 820 laps, 2 Team R2CL (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 813, 3 Yamaha France GMT 94 (Yamaha) 812, 4 Team 18 Sapeurs-Pompiers (Kawasaki) 806, 5 Team Motors Events April Moto (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 806, 6 Junior Team LMS Suzuki (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 804, 7 Maco Racing Team (Yamaha) 803, 8 National Motos (Honda) 798, 9 Synergyforce Trickstar (Kawasaki) 798, 10 Team Louit Moto 33 (Kawasaki) 797. 26 SERT (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 748.

World Endurance Championship Final Standings: CLICK HERE FOR POINTS

Superstock Endurance World Cup Class: 1 Team Motors Events April Moto (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 806 laps, 2 Junior Team LMS Suzuki (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 804, 3 Team Louit Moto 33 (Kawasaki) 797, 4 Atomic Motor Sport (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 794, 5 No Limits Motor Team (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 786, 6 Yamaha Vittais Experiences (Yamaha) 785, 7 Reseau Honda (Honda) 769, 8 Volpker Team Schubert Motos (BMW) 768, 9 Probike-TeamGPMoto (Kawasaki) 765, 10 DGSPORT Herock (Yamaha) 762.

Superstock Endurance World Cup Final Standings: 1 Team Motors Events April Moto (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 97 points, 2 Junior Team LMS Suzuki (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 83, 3 Penz13.com Franks Autowelt RT (BMW) 68, 4 No Limits Motor Team (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 52, 5 Yamaha Vittais Experiences (Yamaha) 52, 6 Team Louit Moto 33 (Kawasaki) 50, 7 Atomic Motorsport (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 43, 8 AM Moto Racing Competition (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 42, 10 Volpker Team Schubert Motors (BMW) 29.


SUZUKI WORLD TITLE-WINNING MODEL HISTORY:

1983 - (Suzuki GS1000)
1987 - (Suzuki GSX-R750)
1988 - (Suzuki GSX-R750)
1997 - (Suzuki GSX-R750)
1999 - (Suzuki GSX-R750)
2005 - (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
2006 - (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
2007 - (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
2008 - (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
2010 - (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
2011 - (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
2012 - (Suzuki GSX-R1000)
2013 - (Suzuki GSX-R1000)