Yamaha Deliver Le Mans Masterclass with Incredible Double Podium
The GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team and YART Yamaha Official EWC Team delivered a masterclass in Endurance racing over the last 24 hours. The two Official Yamaha Endurance teams took first and second on the podium respectively for the 2017 FIM 24 Heures Motos at the Bugatti circuit in Le Mans, turning the event into a two horse race as they fought less than a minute apart, over the entire race, ending 11 laps ahead of the rest of the field in their own class.
GMT94 Yamahas David Checa enjoyed a strong start, fighting in the front pack from fifth at the first corner to rise back to fourth, before handing over to teammate Niccolò Canepa who came back out to third position. Canepa was able to increase the pressure before handing over to third rider Mike Di Meglio who continued on the same form to get the race into play. It wasn’t long before the French team were up in to second position in their rhythm and chasing race leaders YART Yamaha Official, the two soon leaving the rest of the field behind. The early hours of the morning saw committed riding close the gap down to around 15 seconds, before YART began to again stretch it out. As morning broke over the circuit GMT94 raised the game again, cutting the lead back down to around 20 seconds as the two Yamahas continued their duel for the win.
With just over four hours remaining Mike Di Meglio was on fast form, dropping the gap quickly to Nozane in front. An unfortunate contact with a back marker caused him to crash out, but Di Meglio himself was not slowed and with just under four hours to go he was able to catch Nozane, fighting closely through the first three turns for the lead that would become the overtake that secured the race victory.
From that point the GMT94 Yamaha Official riders were able to slowly stretch out the margin to the final lap, wrapping up the race after an exhausting 860 laps and 24 hours. Adding to the drama, Canepa fell ill with fever during the night, continuing to ride until 9am in the morning through fever and sickness before retiring to allow his two teammates to complete the final seven hours between them.
It proved to be a great start for Broc Parkes on the no.7 YART machine from second on the grid, fighting to secure an early lead and immediately dropping into the 136s lap times. The Australian led until lap eight when a safety car came out for a couple of laps, bunching the competitors and bringing the competition in. He fought with the group until handing over to Marvin Fritz, who came out to lead the pack again. Fritz kept the pace up, maintaining the lead for his stint before passing on to young Japanese talent, Kohta Nozane. Nozane ensured the teams race leading pace was respected, keeping the YART YZF-R1 at the front of the pack whilst displaying incredible corner lean angles as he powered around the Bugatti circuit.
The three worked hard to keep and grow their lead as day turned to night, the riders taking repeated faultless turns on their R1. As the night turned to early morning, fellow Yamaha riders GMT94 Official had worked hard to close the gap to just over 15 seconds by 5am in the morning. The YART Yamaha trio then picked up the pace again, growing the gap to nearly 50 seconds just over an hour later. After leading the race for an incredible 20 hours, the gap wasn’t to last, as the daylight brought with it an unexplained loss of pace. GMT94 were gradually able to regain the time creating a tense, exciting atmosphere as Yamaha hunted Yamaha on the Bugatti circuit. The winning pass was made with Di Meglio passing Nozane with just under four hours to go. YART kept their pace high as the clock counted down, discovering at the final riding stint of Parkes that the bike had been accidentally switched to wet map resulting in a lower bottom end power. As a result they crossed the line in second place 19.819 seconds behind GMT94 to secure second.
Yamaha Viltaïs Experience enjoyed a great start to their Le Mans weekend, riders Axel Maurin, Bastien Mackels and Florian Alt working hard to secure the Superstock pole position. A great start to the race saw them quickly in sixth position, climbing to fifth after the first pit stop. From there their pace continued to increase, as they climbing to a highest of fourth as they battled for the Superstock victory. Without doubt the most competitive stock team on the track, an unfortunate technical issue with an oil filter plagued them twice, costing valuable time. Despite this they kept coming back and working even harder, and had regained second position in the Superstock class when an unfortunate crash in the final hours again set the clock back. They eventually brought their YZF-R1 home in a hard fought third position, ninth overall.
24 Heures Motos Race Results
- GMT Yamaha Official EWC Team – Yamaha YZF-R1 – 860 laps 24:04:27
- YART Yamaha Official EWC Team- Yamaha YZF-R1 – 860 laps +19.819
- Team SRC Kawasaki – 848 laps +12 lps
- Suzuki Endurance Racing Team – 848 laps +12 lps
- F.C.C. TSR Honda – 843 laps +17 lps
- Tati Team Beaujolais Racing – 837 laps +23 lps
- Moto AIN CRT – Yamaha YZF-R1 – 834 laps +26 lps
- Maco Racing Team – Yamaha YZF-R1 – 831 laps +29 lps
- Yamaha Viltaïs Experience – Yamaha YZF-R1 – 829 laps +31 lps
- AM Moto Racing Competition – 824 laps +36 lps
EWC World Championship Standings
- Suzuki Endurance Racing Team – 95 points
- TEAM SRC KAWASAKI – 92
- GMT Yamaha Official EWC Team – 71
- F.C.C. TSR Honda – 67
- YART Yamaha Official EWC Team – 62
- MACO RACING Team Yamaha – 54
- EVA RT WEBIKE TRICK STAR – 53
- Tati Team Beaujolais Racing – 48
- MOTO AIN CRT Yamaha – 48
- Yamaha Viltaïs Experience – 38