Digital Edition Subscribers: Read Roadracing World Magazine Now >
Roadracing - An Online Service of Roadracing World Magazine
Jun 24, 2017

Endurance World Championship: GMT94 Yamaha Wins 8 Hours Of Slovakia Ring

Overall race winners GMT94 Yamaha (center) on the podium with runner-up Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (left) and Honda Endurance Racing (right) at Slovakia Ring. Photo courtesy of Eurosport Events.


GMT Yamaha won the 1st edition of the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring, pulling off a hat-trick in the FIM EWC. The French Yamaha clinched the victory ahead of Suzuki Endurance Racing Team and Honda Endurance Racing.

David Checa, Niccolò Canepa and Mike Di Meglio won the day on their GMT94 Yamaha, beating reigning champion Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Alex Cudlin) and Honda Endurance Racing (Julien da Costa, Sébastien Gimbert and Freddy Foray) – the latter won their first podium of the season.

Packed with high drama and incidents, the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring turned out to be a suspense-filled race from start to finish. After Vincent Philippe’s masterly holeshot for Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, two Australians – Josh Hook of F.C.C. TSR Honda and Broc Parkes of YART Yamaha Official EWC Team – wrestled each other for the lead. Following a cautious start due to the high track temperature, GMT94 Yamaha surged into the front-end fray, while Suzuki Endurance Racing Team slipped back after briefly going off track and then getting a puncture.

Early incidents

A little over three hours into the race, fate dealt its first blow: F.C.C. TSR Honda got held back by engine shutdown issues. F.C.C. TSR Honda lost a lot of time in the pits, and finished the race in 21st place.

Then, when it looked like YART Yamaha Official EWC Team and GMT94 Yamaha would be battling for the win, YART suffered a three-lap delay after having to solve a chain adjuster issue. The Austrian Yamaha just missed out on a podium place.

The road to the podium opened up for four teams that had been lying in wait – Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, Maco Racing, Bolliger Team Switzerland and Honda Endurance Racing. Maco Racing was unable to grasp the nettle because of a crash, and Bolliger Team Switzerland got held back by electrical issues.

FIM EWC grand finale at Suzuka

In the end, the contest for runner-up position played out between Suzuki Endurance Racing Team and Honda Endurance Racing. SERT prevailed, thereby holding on to its place at the top of the FIM EWC 2016-2017 provisional standings, with a mere one-point lead over GMT94 Yamaha ahead of the championship grand finale: the end-July Suzuka 8 Hours.

Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences wins the World Cup

A dramatic turn of events also marked the Superstock class, for which the 8 Hours of Slovakia was the World Cup final. Moto Ain CRT, the post-qualifying favourite, appeared to have the race win and the World Cup all sewn up, but a spectacular crash three hours into the race kept them back from the podium. Florian Alt and Bastien Mackels of Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences took over as category leaders. But Völpker NRT48 Schubert Motors wrested the lead from them in the final hour of the race. The German team’s BMW with Stefan Kerschbaumer, Jan Buhn and Julian Puffe in the saddle was the first Superstock machine past the finish line and came in 5th overall, also winning the EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy and the €4,000 prize allotted to the winner.

For Yamaha Viltaïs Experiences, 2nd place in Superstock was as good as a win, as it enabled them to carry off the FIM EWC World Cup with a mere one-point lead over Moto Ain CRT. Niccolò Rosso, Kevin Manfredi and Andrea Boscoscuro of the Italian squad No Limit Motor Team were on the third step of the podium in Slovakia.

Next race: the 2016-2017 FIM EWC final round – the 40th anniversary of the Suzuka 8 Hours in Japan on 30 July.

More, from a press release issued by Honda Endurance Racing:

Honda Endurance Racing on the podium at the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring

The Honda Endurance Racing team returned to the podium today aboard the all-new Honda Fireblade after finishing the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring in third place.

With progress made throughout all practice and qualifying sessions the team and its riders, Freddy Foray, Julien Da Costa and Sébastien Gimbert, started the eight-hour race quietly confident. The Slovakia Ring is a new circuit added to the FIM EWC calendar and is one that seems to have suited both riders and the 2017 Fireblade.

The race got underway at 1330 local time and it was Foray who started for the Honda squad. With a good start off the line, Foray was within the top-five by the end of the first lap. However, a small mistake in the opening stages saw him drop to 21st place and the battle to get back into the lead group started.

Honda’s endurance specialists pushed on at the 5.922km circuit and teamed with fast pit stops from the super-slick Honda crew, it wasn’t long until Honda Endurance Racing broke back into the top-ten.

By the third pit stop as Gimbert took over from Da Costa, the team were running fourth and all eyes turned to the new Fireblade on track. With consistent lap times and super-quick pit stops, the riders pushed through the extreme track temperatures, masterfully keeping the CBR within the podiums reach.

The closing stages of the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring were a tense affair in the Honda garage, as on track they battled with SERT for second place. But after eight hours of racing, 222 laps spun and approximately 1.315km covered, the Honda Endurance Racing team crossed the line in third place, taking their first podium finish of the 2016-2017 FIM Endurance World Championship.

After today’s result the Honda Endurance Racing team is sitting 11th in the overall championship standings and will now prepare for the final round of the Endurance World Championship; the Suzuka 8 Hours, which takes place on 28-30 July.

Freddy Foray 111

So today was pretty good! No, today was very good and the whole team needed this result, everyone has been working so hard and today, as you say the hard work paid off. The team did the perfect race with perfect pit stops and I cannot thank them enough. For myself I am happy, the start was good, as I didn’t fall! Then after that it was good, but the feeling you know was difficult with the track temperatures so I had to keep calm and see if I could get the right space to overtake. I made a silly mistake in the early stages, but this is endurance and you do have time to correct, which we did and we finish on the podium, so this is perfect.

Julien Da Costa 111

We are really, really happy with the result today. Everyone in the team has done a really good job; we had fast pit stops and a really good pace on track. I cannot believe it really that we are on the podium again, we have wanted this for quite some time and we all knew it was possible we just needed some luck. Thank you to all the team for their hard work and also to my team-mates.

Sébastien Gimbert 111

I am happy, so happy to be back on the podium, it’s the first time this year for us and it feels good. We had a good race and I have really enjoyed riding the Slovakia Ring, the Fireblade was perfect throughout the race and we were able to push, even in the hot temperatures. Of course now, as a rider I want more for the future and for a win. We have Suzuka coming up next and this for sure has set us up well for the event, thank you to Honda Racing and also to my team-mates, we finally got back to the podium!

Jonny Twelvetrees

Team Manager

I’m really, really pleased to be on the podium today with the new SP2, the whole team has worked so hard since we received in January and we came so close to this in Oschersleben, but we didn’t quite make it. Today it feels like the right result for us and I cannot thank all the mechanics and riders enough, everyone did a superb job. Going into the week we knew it was possible and we set our strategy, which worked well and everything was carried out perfectly by the team. We’re looking forward now to Suzuka and the final round and hope we can finish the year on a high.

Top 5 This Week