SERT got off to a quick start, pacing behind pole-sitters SRC Kawasaki for the early portion of the race. During his shift aboard the ZX-10R about 200 laps into the contest, Fabien Foret lost control of the bike and went down, ceding the lead to SERT where they’d hold through to the finish. Later in the night SRC Kawasaki went down again, this time leaving the bike too damaged to continue.
Honda Racing, another contender for this year’s podium, was in strong position during the early hours of the morning but then severe bike vibration forced rider Julien Da Costa to the pits. His crew worked to solve the problem for two hours, finally sending Da Costa back into competition, but technical gremlins continued to plague the team ultimately forcing them to retire.
Crashes and other set-backs during the first three rounds of the year meant SERT had a big hill to climb in order to surpass Yamaha GMT94 at Le Mans. Just seconds after the start Yamaha opened the door for SERT to rise to the top after David Checa suffered an off after getting tangled in another rider’s crash. Checa was uninjured and was able to remount, the team regaining position throughout the night to hold second-place by morning. At the finish Yamaha GMT94 was two laps behind SERT, which was more than close enough to secure the title.
“To be on the gravel after 24 seconds of race and to be world champion after 24 hours really demonstrates how difficult the competition was,” explained Checa. “But I feel lucky to be here. That was a near miss – things could have changed dramatically! We made a very regular season. Even if we did not manage to get it, we were always aiming for victory and this world champion title is a great reward.”
Yamaha Racing GMT94 Team Manager, Christophe Guyout added, ““I would just like to say that I am very happy for the riders, David Checa Kenny Foray and Mathieu Gines are top riders. The bike is really good and the team worked really hard every day since the beginning of the season to get this title. Many people are behind us, it is so important that everybody believes in the team, bike and riders. This is especially true in endurance, when you are in difficulties and you start from last position and three laps behind everybody else. You can’t do anything without top riders. For me all three 100% deserve the title, they are the best Endurance riders in the world, I am very proud of them for this achievement. I also need to say thank you to all at Yamaha for their support in helping us achieve this amazing result.”
YART recovered from a crash of their own during the race, rider Broc Parkes going down on Sunday morning, but a strong performance up to that point kept them secure in third position.
The Superstock Qatar Endurance Racing Team crossed the line fourth overall, followed by Junior Team LMS Suzuki in fifth. National Motos logged the sixth-best performance followed by Penz13.com Racing Team in seventh and Team R2CL in eighth.
SERT finishes second overall in the 2014 World Endurance Championship standings, followed by Bollinger Team Switzerland in third and National Motos in fourth. Despite taking zero points in two of the four rounds this year, SRC Kawasaki finishes fifth.
24 Hours of Le Mans Overall Results 2014
1. SERT (Suzuki) 812 laps
2. Yamaha Racing GMT94 Michelin (Yamaha) 810 laps
3. Monster Energy YART (Yamaha) 804 laps
4. Qatar Endurance Racing Team (Kawasaki) 802 laps
5. Junior Team LMS Suzuki (Suzuki) 800 laps
6. National Motos (Honda) 794 laps
7. Penz13.com Racing Team (BMW) 792 laps
8. Team R2CL (Suzuki) 790 laps
9. Metisse JLC Moto (Metisse) 788 laps
10. Starteam PAM-Racing (Suzuki) 788 laps
World Endurance Championship Points 2014
1. Yamaha France GMT94 Michelin, 141
2. SERT, 104
3. Bollinger Team Switzerland, 100
4. National Motos, 80
5. SRC Kawasaki, 72
6. Monster Energy Yamaha YART, 70
7. Honda Racing, 63
8. Team Motors Events April Moto, 60
9. Team R2CL, 54
10. Flembbo Leader Team, 47