World Endurance: Yamalube YART Yamaha On Provisional Pole At Le Mans 24-Hour

World Endurance: Yamalube YART Yamaha On Provisional Pole At Le Mans 24-Hour

© 2024, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe:

YART FASTEST IN THE EWC SO FAR AFTER DRAMA-HIT FIRST QUALIFYING FOR 24 HEURES MOTOS

The battle for pole position in the 24 Heures Motos, round one of the 2024 FIM Endurance World Championship, is go with Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team on top in the first three sessions that help towards forming the grid for the famous Le Mans race.

Niccolò Canepa, Marvin Fritz and Karel Hanika – riding with the #1 on their Bridgestone-equipped Yamaha YZF-R1 following their 2023 EWC title triumph – were quickest in the Blue, Yellow and Red sessions held on a sunny but chilly Circuit Bugatti this afternoon. 

Once again, First Qualifying was split into four colour-coded rider groups (Blue, Yellow, Red and Green) with each group getting 20 minutes of running on the 4.185-kilometre track. 

But with the final qualifying order based on the average time of the fastest two riders from each team (the results of the fourth rider are not taken into account), it’s not until after Second Qualifying on Friday morning that the grid for the 47th 24 Heures Moto is known.

Niccolò Canepa was the quickest Blue Rider for Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team in an unofficial lap record time of 1m34.708s followed by Florian Alt (Honda Viltaïs Racing), Gregg Black (Yoshimura SERT Motul), Josh Hook (F.C.C. TSR Honda France) and Illya Mykhalchyk (BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team). 

Canepa, who is still recovery from a shoulder injury sustained during a crash while practicing for the Daytona 200 in the USA last month, said: “I’m really happy especially because I didn’t do many winter tests. I still don’t fell 100 per cent with my shoulder and I know the race is going to be very tough so I will have to count on my team-mates a lot because I still have pain and not so much power. But to do one lap I really enjoyed and it came out an incredible lap that I really didn’t expect, but the bike and the tyres were really amazing. I was sure this was a record that would not last long because I thought Marvin and Karel would beat it. Unfortunately they couldn’t beat it so I can keep it but they still did an amazing job. It was a bit of drama for them and I am sorry but I’m really happy for the result of today and we are all three in the first place and this is what counts.”

Kenny Foray was the quickest Superstock category contender on a 1m36.868s for Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team with Sébastien Suchet (National Motos Honda) and Yudai Kamei (Team Étoile) next up. Tom Ward (TRT27 AZ Moto), Eemeli Lahti (Pit-Lane Endurance) and Martin Vugrinec (Maco Racing) all fell. 

In the Yellow Rider session, Marvin Fritz continued YART’s impressive qualifying performance in a time of 1m35.139s, although his initial best lap 1m34.738s was cancelled due to a track limits infrignement. Steven Odendaal was second for Honda Viltaïs Racing with F.C.C. TSR Honda France rider Mike Di Meglio in third. Despite a fall, Christian Gamarino (Kawasaki Webike Trickstar) excelled on his step up to the Formula EWC category having helped Team 33 Louit April Moto win the Superstock-based FIM Endurance World Cup in 2023. Randy Krummenacher was fifth fastest for Tati Team Beringer Racing, now Honda-powered in the EWC. Jan Bühn (Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team) headed the Superstock order followed by Valentin Suchet (National Motos Honda) and Baptiste Guittet, who returns to Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore following a season competing in the Formula EWC category with Tati Team Beringer Racing. Meanwhile, Florian Marino (KM99) and Kamil Krzemień (Wójcik Racing Team EWC) both suffered falls during their 20-minute session.

Karel Hanika took over the #1 Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team for the Red Rider session and continued the Austrian squad’s dominance in a time of 1m35.028s, despite crashing on his first flying lap, which resulted in his mechanics spending just under seven minutes repairing his damaged bike. Alan Techer was second quickest for F.C.C. TSR Honda France followed by Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team), Leandro Mercado (Honda Viltaïs Racing) and Dan Linfoot on his debut for Yoshimura SERT Motul. National Motos Honda’s Guillaume Raymond was the quickest Superstock contender with a 1m37.756s best. Kevin Calia was second quickest on Team Aviobike by M2 Revo’s Aprilia as Philipp Steinmayr went third fastest on his debut for Honda No Limits. Fallers in the penultimate First Qualifying session included Alan Agogue (TCP Racing), Maiku Watanuki (3ART Best of Bike).

The Green Rider session is taking on added significance for Superstock riders this season under new rules that allow teams contesting the FIM Endurance World Cup to nominate four race riders rather than the traditional three. Martin Renaudin was fastest in the Dunlop-equipped class for Chromeburner-RAC41-Honda followed by Gino Rea (Wójcik Racing Team) on his competition comeback following serious injury. Dylan Mille was third fastest for Junior Team Le Mans Sud Suzuki. The quickest overall session time went to Yoshimura SERT Motul’s reserve rider Cocoro Atsumi ahead of Robin Mulhauser (Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team) and Hannes Soomer, on his first EWC appearance for BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team.

Following Night Practice from 20h30 local time today, Second Qualifying is due to get under way at 10h20 tomorrow (Friday).

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