Suzuki Endurance Racing Team Win Bol d’Or
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team tasted victory once again, crossing the finish line of the Bol d’Or one lap ahead of the Yamaha-mounted Polish squad Wójcik Racing Team and Germany’s BMW-mounted Team ERC Endurance. But then following post-race scrutineering after the Bol d’Or, the FIM jury decided to demote Team ERC Endurance for non-compliance with the rule regarding fuel-tank capacity.
The German BMW-mounted ERC Endurance team had to cede their place on the podium to a squad riding another of the German manufacturer’s machines, the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, who were making their FIM EWC debut at the Bol d’Or with riders Ilya Mikhalchik, Julian Puffe and Kenny Foray.
Moto Ain took the Superstock win at the end of an action-packed race.
This is a press release from FIM Endurance World Championship with updates…
(September 22, 2019) – Suzuki Endurance Racing Team won the Bol d’Or for the 17th time with riders Vincent Philippe (for whom this is both his 9th Bol d’Or win and his last time competing in the race), Etienne Masson and Gregg Black. Most importantly, the factory-backed Suzuki once again tasted victory – their first in the World Championship since their 2016 Bol d’Or win with Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Etienne Masson. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team have started the 2019-2020 FIM EWC in style, going to the top of the standings with 49 points.
Damien Saulnier, SERT’s new team manager, was awarded the Anthony Dehalle EWC Spirit Trophy as a tribute to his combative style, both in this race and since his arrival at the helm of Suzuki Endurance Racing Team this past summer.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team finished ahead of an unexpected challenger – Wójcik Racing Team. The Yamaha-mounted Polish team led throughout the early stages of the race in the rain with riders Gino Rea, Christoffer Bergman and Axel Maurin, and subsequently held back their rivals.
A fratricidal duel between two BMWs unfolded in the final stages of the race, with Team ERC Endurance (Mathieu Gines, Julien da Costa and Louis Rossi) facing off against BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team (Ilya Mikhalchik, Julian Puffe and Kenny Foray). In the end, Team ERC Endurance, crossing the checkered flag with a 4-second lead on the factory BMW squad, who were making their Endurance World Championship debut. Following post-race scrutineering after the Bol d’Or, the FIM jury decided to demote Team ERC Endurance for non-compliance with the rule regarding fuel tank capacity, giving BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team with riders Ilya Mikhalchik, Julian Puffe and Kenny Foray, the third podium spot.
Two Yamahas performed magnificently in the final laps. Having started from 23rd position, Omega Maco Racing Team (Pawel Szkopek, Bjorn Estment and Karel Hanika) were 5th past the finish line, ahead of VRD Igol Pierret Experiences (Florian Alt, Florian Marino and Ricardo Brink).
Moto Ain Triumph in Superstock
Moto Ain ran a near-flawless race. The Yamaha-mounted team finished 7th to take the Superstock win, pocketing the 40 points awarded for the victory in this class as well as the 10 points awarded at each of the two intermediate stages of the race, plus 4 bonus points for being the 2nd Superstock on the starting grid. Their only rivals were Team 33 Coyote Louit Moto, who started from pole but fell to the bottom of the rankings after a crash.
BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers (Kawasaki) finished 10th overall and 2nd in the Superstock class with riders Anthony Loiseau, Jonathan Hardt and Julien Pilot. Suzuki-mounted Motors Events (James Westmoreland, Johan Nigon and Florent Tourné) wrested 3rd place in Superstock from Wójcik Racing Team 2.
An Edition to Remember
The 83rd Bol d’Or will go down in the history books as a highly unusual race. As in 1988 and 1996 on the Paul Ricard circuit, the weather conditions, with heavy rainfall, forced the race to be interrupted from 6pm on Saturday to 6am on Sunday.
Three hours after the race had resumed on a quickly drying track, the leader F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s engine failure totally shook up the positions in the lead. Loris Baz in the saddle of the YART Yamaha bike and Webike SRC Kawasaki France’s Erwan Nigon, both hot on the Honda’s heels, were caught unawares by an oil spill. The riders’ minor crashes forced the two factory teams to withdraw, as their bikes had caught fire.
The exit of these factory teams opened the way for Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, who took the lead and managed to create and keep a gap to their rivals. Their toughest competition came from the Polish squad Wójcik Racing Team.
Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy Awarded
Damien Saulnier, the new team manager of Suzuki Endurance Racing Team – the winners of the 2019 Bol d’Or – was awarded the Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy in recognition of his combativeness.
Damien Saulnier’s acceptance of the Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy after the finish of the Bol d’Or was an emotionally charged moment. François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events, the FIM EWC promoter, handed the trophy – a symbol of true grit and sporting spirit – to Suzuki Endurance Racing Team’s new team manager, who took over the helm of the squad with 15 world titles this summer.
The Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy has special meaning for both Damien Saulnier and Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, who tasted victory anew at the 2019 Bol d’Or with riders Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Gregg Black. SERT’s last win dated to the 2016 Bol d’Or. The factory Suzuki had won that race with Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Anthony Delhalle.
Before joining Suzuki Endurance Racing Team in 2011, Anthony Delhalle cut his teeth as part of Junior Team LMS Suzuki, managed at the time by Damien Saulnier.
The spirit of the French rider, who passed away in March 2017, remains alive in the FIM Endurance World Championship with the trophy, which rewards an individual or collective feat during the race.
Damien Saulnier recalls their first meeting. “Anthony came to see us in 2005 wanting to ride for Junior. Then, when we were putting together a line-up for the Qatar, I wanted him on board, and they won some championships. I was impressed by his career and his progress. His move to SERT was only to be expected. He was so calm and relaxed in everyday life that we all wondered how he could ride so fast. But his career will forever remain unfinished. And that makes me even prouder to now receive this trophy in his name and in his memory.”
The next race on the 2019-2020 FIM Endurance World Championship calendar is the 8 Hours of Sepang, a new race to be held in Malaysia on Saturday, December 14 as part of a double-header car/motorcycle event featuring the FIM EWC and the FIA WTCR/Oscaro.