At The Suzuka 8 Hours, Pirelli Wins The 2018-19 FIM Endurance World Championship With The Victorious Team SRC Kawasaki France
The Final Round of the Championship Saw SRC Kawasaki France’s ZX-10RR Fitted with the DIABLO™ Superbike Slick Tires in a Larger Size and SCX Compound
SUZUKA, Japan – On the occasion of the famous Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race, whose 42nd edition was held yesterday, Pirelli won the 2018-19 FIM Endurance World Championship equipping, with DIABLO™ Superbike slick tires in larger size and in the new SCX compound, Team SRC Kawasaki France.
Starting from the 14th position on the grid, the Kawasaki ZX-10RR No.11 ridden by Jérémy Guarnoni, David Checa and Erwan Nigon crossed the finish line of the last Championship race in 12th position after making 209 laps and eight pit stops in the eight hours. That was enough to gain the world title thanks to the excellent performances obtained in the other events of the World Championship.
As usual in the FIM Superbike World Championship, Pirelli supported its teams participating in the FIM Endurance World Championship by offering them the latest technological solution developments. In this case, the DIABLO™ Superbike slick tires in the larger sizes 200/65 rear and 125/70 front which, just this year, have joined the Pirelli range. In particular, in the five Championship races, the riders mostly used tires from the larger range, SC1 at the front and SC0 at the rear, but at the Suzuka grand finale the new SCX compound solution also played a key role.
Crucially for Pirelli these larger sized tires in their debut year have earned two important accolades in the series, firstly winning the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans and then the FIM Endurance World Championship.
A season to be remembered for both Team SRC Kawasaki France together with Pirelli but certainly not without challenges and difficulties to overcome. In the first round, the Bol d’Or (which took place in September 2018), in qualifying the team obtained the pole position and the circuit lap record but in the race, after 22 hours in command and with four laps advantage, an electrical problem forced the riders in for several stops forcing them to finish the race only in seventh position. The result obtained in the 24 Hours of Le Mans last April was quite different and the win, with a decisive overtaking move less than 15 minutes before the end of the race, was their sixth victory in the last 10 years. At the 8 Hours Slovakia Ring in May, bad luck returned to hit the French team, which, after starting in fifth position, after an hour and a half race was forced to retire due to engine failure. Up to the penultimate race of the Championship, the 8 Hours of Oschersleben, where Team SRC Kawasaki France gained another splendid pole position and a second place in the race. Then finally a return to the head of the Championship and to lift the cup of the World Champions at the Suzuka 8 Hours race yesterday.
Over the five events the Pirelli-shod Kawasaki ZX-10RR No.11 logged some impressive numbers: over 10,000 kilometers ridden, 2,078 laps raced, 73 pit stops, 2 pole positions, 1 victory, 1 second place and the icing on the cake, the world title!
Pirelli therefore celebrates the regained title of FIM Endurance World Champion and for the Suzuka, namely the victory in the Superstock class with the BMW TONE RT SYNCEDGE 4413 team.
The next event is now for the opening round of the 2019-20 FIM World Endurance Championship, which will start on September 20, 2019 on the Paul Ricard Circuit of Le Castellet where the 83rd edition of Bol d’Or will take place.
More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki Motors Europe:
SRC Kawasaki France – EWC Champions 2019
Team SRC Kawasaki France are on top of the World: After starting 14th on the grid for the Suzuka 8Hours, the team managed by Gilles Stafler won the 2019 EWC crown after a huge human investment throughout the season.
On Sunday, July 28 11:30am local time the 42nd edition of the 8 hours of Suzuka began – even in the face of a predicted typhoon. No less than sixty six machines set off from the grid ready for a World Championship final which promised to be thrilling throughout.
A dry track start for this most physical event of the year saw Erwan Nigon achieve an excellent start and hold a promising 9th place. A short-lived performance because after only 18 minutes of racing the safety car was on track between the team’s chief rival for the title and the famous #11 Ninja machine. The second incident for the #11 in the first phase of the race was the unfortunate fall of Nigon at the chicane when he temporarily lost front grip.
At half race the three riders were proving strong and competitive amongst illustrious company . No major issues were reported for David Checa, Erwan Nigon and Jérémy Guarnoni who performed their allotted tasks perfectly. Whilst at the mercy of refueling stops the #11 oscillated between 17th and 14th position.
For Suzuka, the customary retirements and stoppages did not feature as much this year making the SRC Kawasaki France riders’ opportunity catch up to the top ranking very challenging indeed. Endurance can be cruel to some when it delivers unexpected – or unasked for – good fortune to others. Likewise, in a surprising final once again, the French based team captured the 2019 World title due to the engine failure of their main rival….. at 7:55 race time – just 5 minutes from the finish!
The team of Gilles Stafler were then “virtually world champions”, yet with a handful of minutes left the scene was of nervous anguish. David Checa piloting the bike redoubled his efforts focusing on avoiding any last second issues; hard as there was not just overnight rain left on the track surface but oil from a rivals blown engine. The last moments of the race seemed like an eternity for the friendly Calatalan rider. However, it did liltle to disrupt the very experienced pilot of the #11 Ninja ZX-10RR who burst into tears of emotion after the checkered flag had been waved to signify race end.
David Checa: “This finish is indescribable, what a sensation! I tried to contain my tears but sorry, I can not do it. The emotions were too intense, my joy is all the stronger as I went through moments of doubt lately but tonight with my teammates Jeremy and Erwan, we are world champions! I cannot thank enough Kawasaki and Gilles Stafler for this unforgettable season!”
Understandably there is real pride among the team for whom this title could not be won without the considerable investment of Kawasaki Motors France and all the sponsor partners who can never be thanked enough.
The SRC Kawasaki France team are now 2018/2019 Endurance World Champions. And, somewhat appropriately, the #11 finishes at position number 11 just 1 lap from the top 10 after 8 grueling yet ultimately glorious hours.