GMT94 Yamaha Kick-off New Season with Stunning Bol d’’Or Victory

The GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team made the best possible start to the 2017/18 Endurance World Championship season, taking a determined victory in the first round today, the 81st Bol d’’Or at the Circuit Paul Ricard in southern France. The YART Yamaha Official EWC Team also started the race strongly but were unable to make it through the night, a technical issue forcing retirement in the first hours of the 24hr endurance race.

The legendary Bol d’’Or race always brings unexpected racing with challenges around. For GMT94 Yamaha’s David Checa, Mike Di Meglio and Niccolo Canepa this weekend’s race was no exception. Having started from sixth on the grid, the French team made several pushes to reach the front of the pack, each time falling victim to bad timing with the safety car, losing a valuable minute to be chased down again. Added to this a Stop and Go penalty given to Di Meglio for speeding in the pit lane and the team had their work cut out in the hunt for victory.

Despite the setbacks, GMT94 Yamaha were unstoppable, overcoming the incidents and safety car time losses to forge ahead time and time again, eventually bringing it home after an exhaustive 24hrs of racing a staggering 10 laps clear at the front of the pack to claim their first victory of the new season as defending world champions.

“We did not let go, we gave 110% and in the end it paid off and we won, said Niccolò Canepa. “Last year was a great year, and the bike continues to be better at each race. My teammates are still very fast, we had an incredible season and I am really happy to keep it this way!”

GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team Manager, Christophe Guyot, was pleased with the performance of the team.

“”I’m so happy because we are leading the championship. We are always motivated, but this result is beautiful, now we enter the winter preparing for next year at Le Mans and will arrive there as the top team. For the confidence of the riders and the team this is fantastic and we know we are already prepared with a very strong bike. We had some difficulties in the race; it was very hard.” 

The YART Yamaha Official EWC Team of Broc Parkes, Marvin Fritz and Kohta Nozane were also challenged with their share of incidents. Having started from second on the grid, the team had made good progress as one of the front runners until young Japanese rider Nozane suffered a heavy crash a couple of hours into the race. He was able to ignore the pain, remount and bring the bike back to the pits, allowing his teammates to rally and head back out. Unfortunately a recurring technical issue left the riders without many essential electronic systems on the bike. After considerable effort to fix the issue, Team Manager Mandy Kainz chose to retire from the race to avoid risking any injury to the riders in what would have been dangerous riding conditions.

GMT94 Yamaha sign off the first round of the new season leading the standings with the maximum 60 points with the next round in the Championship taking place in Le Mans during April 2018.