Team SRC Kawasaki
trounced the competition in the 77th annual Bol d’Or 24-hour race at Magny Cours, coming in nine laps ahead of second-place finisher, Monster Energy Yamaha
– YART. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, current defenders of the World Endurance Championship
title, rounded out the podium.
SRC Kawasaki earned the initial advantage, scoring pole position in qualifying, and they were able to turn their starting spot into an early lead, holding the front through the first hours of competition. Yamaha France moved to the head of the pack after five hours, but was only able to hold a short time before SRC Kawi answered back. This is the second year in a row that SRC Kawasaki has won the Bol d’Or, and their victory in 2013 also makes them the youngest team to ever win the event, with riders Gregory Leblanc (27), Loris Baz (20) and Jeremy Guarnoni (20).
Leblanc was the fastest individual rider on track and is the only one on this year’s SRC team carried over from 2012.
“A second win in a row it’s just fantastic,” said Leblanc. “We made the perfect race and it’s a great pleasure to share this victory with the team Kawasaki SRC and with Loris and Jeremy of course. Tonight I’m sore but finally it’s a sweet feeling.”
World Superbike rider, Loris Baz, contributed to the success of SRC Kawasaki in the 2013 Bol d'Or 24 hour race.
Second-place YART crews work on the bike during a night pit stop at the 2013 Bol d'Or.
“We made a good start and we were in front from the beginning,” said SRC rider Baz, current rider for Kawasaki Racing in World Superbike. “Really soon all the other favorite teams started having problems; it ended up as three teams fighting for the win. Racing at night was hard, when you have to keep pushing and concentrating at the same time. That is why I like Endurance racing. At one time you have to push really hard, then take more care, then push again. There is a lot of thinking involved.”
The YART squad was debilitated before the race even started when third rider, Josh Waters, was forced to pull out due to injuries sustained in a crash during a recent British Superbike race at Thruxton. They were able to substitute World Supersport rider, Sheridan Morais, at the last minute and went on to run an incident-free race.
“All the best came at the end! The weekend started horribly, we were told on Monday that Josh was unable to race,” said YART Owner Mandy Kainz. “We planned to come without a spare rider and treat the Bol d’Or as practice time. There were no riders available who are good but with no contract. Then finally we found Sheridan but he was back at his home in South Africa. He left Wednesday night and arrived Thursday afternoon and missed first free practice.
“I have to say the riders’ performance was incredible, especially Broc. They did not make a single mistake in 24 hours and showed real patience when it rained and was five degrees. The Yamaha R1 ran so well also with not a single issue, we didn't lose so much as a screw all weekend.”
SERT, on the other hand, had to battle back after both Anthony Delhalle and Vincent Phillippe crashed the GSX-R1000
within the opening hours. The crew was able to rebuild the bike and Julien Da Costa took to the track, starting a charge that took the team from just inside the top-40 to the final step on the rostrum.
Yamaha France GMT ended the day in fourth, followed by two Superstock teams, Junior Team LMS Suzuki and Penz13.com in fifth and sixth respectively. Team R2CL rode their GSX-R1000 to seventh-place, followed by National Motos in eighth and Team Motors Events April Moto in ninth.
A number of teams expected to be competitive in the Bol d’Or were forced to withdraw from the event. Honda TT Legends made it through the night and was fighting within the top-five when a problem with the bike forced Michael Dunlop to pit for repairs. John McGuinness took over after the crew addressed the problem, but engine damage proved too extensive and the bike overheated. This is the first time the TT Legends team has retired from a 24 hour race and breaks their seven race streak of successful WEC race finishes.
“We’re just gutted not to have finished,” said McGuinness. “The lads have done so much work on the bike – new electronics, traction control – all sorts of bits and pieces that they’ve spent hundreds if not thousands of hours on. We’ve had a fantastic run of results up to now with seven races completed and we were looking good in the race. We were top five again and chipping away, but unfortunately we had a problem 18 hours in.”
BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent also retired after a crash in the sixth hour left their bike too damaged to continue. Luckily pilot Karl Muggeridge, who went down in the incident, was able to walk away unharmed.
SRC Kawasaki takes the early points lead, a position not likely to hold since the team is only scheduled to compete in one more race this season at Le Mans.
Bol d’Or 24 Hours Results 2013:
1. SRC Kawasaki (Kawasaki) 808 laps
2. Monster Energy Yamaha – YART (Yamaha) 799 laps
3. SERT (Suzuki) 797 laps
4. Yamaha France – GMT 94 (Yamaha) 793 laps
5. Junior Team LMS Suzuki (Suzuki) 788 laps
6. Penz13.com (BMW) 788 laps
7. Team R2CL (Suzuki) 785 laps
8. National Motors (Honda) 784 laps
9. Team Motors Events April Moto (Suzuki) 783 laps
10. Starteam Pam-Racing (Suzuki) 782 laps
11. AM Moto Racing Competition (Suzuki) 779 laps
12. Metiss JLC Moto (Metiss) 776 laps
13. Atomic Motosport (Suzuki) 775 laps
14. Yamaha Viltais Experience (Yamaha) 769 laps
15. Maco Racing Team (Yamaha) 769 laps
Endurance World Championship Points 2013:
1. SRC Kawasaki, 40
2. Monster Energy Yamaha – YART, 33
3. SERT, 28
4. Yamaha France, 24
5. Team R2CL, 21
6. National Motos, 19
7. Maco Racing, 17
8. RAC 41 Yamaha, 15
9. Bollinger Switzerland, 13
10. FMA Assurances, 11