A 24 hour race always has surprises in store and the 76th Bol d'Or, on 14 and 15 April at the Magny-Cours circuit, was no exception. As the first Championship event, it was obviously very much in the limelight...
Winner of the Bol d'Or for the past four years and 2011 title holder, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), supported by Motul, started off of course as a favourite, moreover after obtaining pole position. The Suzuki made a flying start and took the lead, which it held without slackening till the fourth hour. However, surprised by a change in adherence following rainfall, Vincent Philippe, the team's star rider and already seven-times winner of the Bol d'Or, fell shortly before the entrance to the pits. With a broken collarbone he could not start again. 'At the time I said to myself what bad luck, remembers Dominique Méliand, SERT's iconic team manager. But in the thick of the action, there's no time to pity oneself, you have to adapt to the new situation'. In other words cover the remaining 20 hours with two riders. 'Today a lot more is required of endurance riders than in the past because the bikes are faster, continued Dominique Méliand. And, quite frankly, just two for 20 hours is really awful. But all our team encouraged them and perhaps helped them go beyond the capacities they thought they had'. Indeed Anthony Delhalle and Fabien Foret then did a fabulous race. After the fall of their team-mate, they started off again in 5th position, passing one after another their contenders to reach the leading Kawasaki. Not for one moment did they allow the leader to slacken his pace and even if they finished on the second step of the podium it was in the same lap as the winner and without doing anything to be blamed for. So Julien Da Costa, the rider of the winning Kawasaki said: 'They impressed us all with their rapid succession of stints. They never let up at all'.
Motul supported no less than twenty teams during this magnificent event, including that which climbed the 3rd step of the podium, Yamaha Austria Racing Team. It too performed a very fine race, clinching third place half an hour off the arrival.
Team Honda TT Legend did well, with a very regular race, by keeping its 6th place until Cameron Donald fell less than two hours before the arrival. He managed to take his bike to the stand and, in less than 20 minutes, the mechanics managed to get it back on the track, allowing the rider to clinch 9th place and chalk up a few points in the Championship.
As for team National Motos, after a 10th time in the qualifyings, luck was barely on the side of Bernard Fourcadet's team despite its tenacity, and despite the highly skilled mechanics and endurance of the riders. Two laps after the start, Joseph Monges' fall relegated the Honda CBR 1000 RR to the back reaches of the standings. It then climbed back well to 15th place but suffered a broken exhaust pipe followed by a broken clutch! The Honda no.55 started off again in 25th place and after battling it out finally crossed the arrival line in 20th place.
In the Superstock category, two Motul teams finished 3rd and 4th: Starteam 67, with a Suzuki and DG Sport, with a Yamaha. In this category, mention must be made of the performance of team Louit Moto 33 and of Loris Baz, its 19 year old young rider, who was in 3rd place after the start and stayed in the lead until he skidded on an unfortunate pool of oil. During the night, when the rather chilly temperature did not make the rider's work easy, he posted superb times, confirming his success of the beginning of the season and especially his 2nd place at Imola at the beginning of the month in Superstock 1000. His 14e place in the overall standings (7th Superstock) does not give an accurate image of his efforts.
As for SERT, it remains extremely well placed for the rest of the Championship of which the next round will take place on 9 June in Qatar, at the 8 Hours of Doha.
01// SRC Kawasaki
02// Suzuki Endurance Racing Team - Motul
03// Monster Yamaha RT - Motul
09// Honda TT Legends Motul
01// 3D Endurance Moto
02// Penz 13
03// Starteam 67 - Motul
04// DG Sport Herock -Motul
Images : © David Reygondeau