Victories on Dunlop in two classes at Endurance World Championship opener
The new season in the FIM Endurance World Championship began this weekend with the Bol d’Or at the Paul Ricard circuit in southern France with Dunlop victories in both classes.
GMT94 Yamaha Racing took the flag a full nine laps ahead of its nearest competitor after 24 hours of racing, but until the 21st hour there were continual lead changes and everything to race for. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) took their turn at the top until issues, including penalties and mechanical concerns, led to them slipping down the order. The squad crossed the line in seventh place. The third step of the podium was claimed by Honda Endurance Racing who were in podium contention throughout the race, overcoming an electrical problem to fight back and end the race in an intense battle. Honda won the battle for the coveted third spot after several laps in the closing stages, overtaking Voelpker NRT48 on the final lap and crossing the line just 0.989 seconds ahead.
While the Voelpker team lost out on the overall podium, they claimed the top prize of €5000 in the Dunlop Independent Trophy (DIT). Second in the DIT was Tati Team Beaujolais Racing followed by Sarazin Motorsport by Hall Moto 02. A total prize fund of €30,000 was available for registered competitors in the event, with 25 taking part in this race.
The Superstock class, fighting for the Endurance World Cup, was won by Tati Team Beaujolais Racing, finishing eighth overall and never out of the top ten for the 24 hours. Junior Team Le Mans Sud Suzuki finished in third place and tenth overall, a great recovery after dropping to 21st in the early stages.
Temperatures at the track varied from a high of 35 degrees to a low of just ten degrees during the night. Dunlop teams benefitted from the ability of the tyres to reach peak performance temperatures on the opening lap. The tyres also proved their durability, with private teams able to multiple stint by up to three stints on the rear and six stints on the front.
Five Dunlop teams were in the top eight in the EWC, with three of the top four finishers in the Superstock class choosing to race on Dunlops.
Roland Wozniak, international event manager, Dunlop Motorsport: “That was a great way to start the season and a good opening to the title defence for GMT94 Yamaha. It was a shame that SERT had issues as they were looking very strong this weekend. Honda Endurance Racing were also racing well – it would have been good to have had the Dunlop 1-2 that looked possible until the electrical problems occurred. The battle between them and NRT48 for third though was fantastic. It is a shame we now have to wait until April for more great racing. We had no tyre problems all weekend and our teams were happy that they could push much more quickly on new tyres.”
The 2017/18 EWC season continues with the 24 Heures Moto at Le Mans on 21 and 22 April 2018.