The Suzuki Endurance Racing Team has clenched the 2011 World Endurance Championship for the second year in a row. The team’s achievement in Doha, Qatar was made all the more impressive considering they were short one rider – Daisaku Sakai – who suffered a crash earlier in the week and had to drop out of the final round. Despite the handicap, riders Vincent Philippe and Anthony Delhalle managed third at Doha, giving the squad the championship victory just four points over series’ rival, BMW Motorrad France.
The season finale in Qatar started at a feverish pace as Philippe secured the holeshot. Quickly afterwards a battle for the lead developed between Yamaha Racing France, Monster Yamaha YART and BMW Motorrad France 99. On Lap 11 a major collision between BMW’s Sebastien Gimbert and Monster Yamaha’s Katsuyuki Nakasuga allowed Yamaha Racing France to take a comfortable lead ahead of Suzuki Endurance riders.
At the halfway point David Checa, Kenny Foray and Matthieu Lagrive of Yamaha France were still leading the action at the Losail circuit. Honda TT Legends’ John McGuinness, Keith Amor and stand-in rider Glen Richards remained in the top-five largely due to excellent pit stops and race management, as SERT riders remained just off the pace of the leaders in second. Bolliger Team of Switzerland suffered misfortune when fuel injection issues erased the team’s excellent start.
Despite having only a nine-point advantage on BMW Motorrad France, the Suzuki Endurance team came through under pressure by making quick stops and posting consistent times. With less than 30 minutes remaining in the race, SERT initiated a final pit which allowed the BMW Motorrad team to get by. Nevertheless, it was a calculated move that kept the Suzuki team within 50 seconds of Yamaha France at the finish line. Monster Yamaha crossed the line a lap down from the leader, as Honda TT Legends ended its debut season in the FIM World Endurance series with a fifth-place finish.
2011 8 Hours of Doha World Endurance Results:
1. Yamaha France GMT 94 Ipone: David Checa, Kenny Foray, Matthieu Lagrive (Yamaha) 231 laps
2. BMW Motorrad France 99: Sebastien Gimbert, Erwan Nigon, Damian Cudlin (BMW) 231 laps
3. S.E.R.T.: Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle (Suzuki) 231 laps
4. Monster Yamaha YART: Igor Jerman, Steve Martin, Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha) 230 laps
5. Honda TT Legends: John McGuiness, Keith Amor, Glen Richards (Honda) 227 laps
6. YMES FOLCH Endurance: Daniel Ribalta, Luis Pedro Vallcaneras, Manuel Jose Luis (Yamaha) 227 laps
7. DGSPORT: Hugo Merchand, Josep Monge, Raymond Schouten (Yamaha) 225 laps
8. Motors Events Bodyguard AMT: Mathieu Gines, Vincent Bocquet, William Grarre (Suzuki) 224 laps
9. QERT: Alex Cudlin, Nasser Malki Al, Rashid Mannai Al (Suzuki) 223 laps
10. MCS Racing – Ipone: Janez Prosenik, Michael Savary, Emiliano Bellucci (Suzuki) 222 laps
2011 FIM World Endurance Championship Points:
1. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, 109
2. BMW Motorrad France 99, 105
3. Yamaha France GMT 94 Ipone, 76
4. Team SRC Kawasaki, 63
5. Monster Yamaha YART, 54
6. YMES FOLCH Endurance, 51
7. Honda TT Legends, 43
8. Bolliger Team Switzerland, 42
9. Maco Racing Team, 34
10. FCC TSR Honda, 30