The 76th edition of the Bol d’Or at Magny Cours in France signaled the start of the 2012 Endurance World Championship last weekend. A strong Yamaha presence on the starting grid included proven race winners Igor Jerman, Steve Martin and Gwen Giabbani (Monster Energy Yamaha YART) and David Checa, Kenny Foray and Matthieu Lagrive (Yamaha GMT94 Michelin Yamalube). YART rider Jerman took his slick-shod YZF-R1 to the limit in the final three hours of the race, battling the damp conditions and GMT94 to take a hard-fought podium spot with third. The timesheets revealed an impressive run from the Yamaha rider, running nearly four seconds a lap faster than the closest competitors at the end.
Three R1 teams where competing in the top five throughout the 24 hour race with the closing stages witnessing an intense battle between Monster Energy Yamaha and GMT94. Spanish entrants Yamalube Folch Endurance also put in a strong performance to finish fifth while GMT94, led by Christophe Guyot, eventually took fourth after losing some of their optimum racing speed.
In the Superstock class the Belgian Yamaha DG Sport Herock team with riders Didier Van Keymeulen, Alex Cudlin and Gianluca Vizziello finished just off the podium with a respectable fourth.
Team Manager Monster Energy Yamaha YART
“After a tough free practice with three crashes in just 22 minutes, we had to play it safe in qualifying. Our race set-up was good despite the limited efforts we could put in during pre-race sessions. The team did a great job building a completely fresh bike for the race and it worked faultlessly. The R1 performed magnificently, we had no issues during the 24 hours, that’s approximately 40 Superbike races in one so the reliability was great! But unfortunately we did lose a lot of time during pit stops because of issues with a new quick change system so we had to fight back on the track. We had to make up three laps in three hours to GMT94 and Igor was able to pass them just half an hour before the end of the race. We are really pleased with third and looking forward to the next races at Qatar and Suzuka”.
“In the final stages the team manager asked me to continue so I pushed to the limit and got we got it”, said Monster Energy Yamaha YART rider Igor Jerman. “We were chasing for the podium for 22 hours,” continued team mate Gwen Giabbani. “Unfortunately we couldn’t fight for first and second position. We played a sort of Yo-Yo with GMT94. Just two hours before the end of the race everybody thought a podium spot was unreachable. Suddenly Igor struck like a genius and managed to get us on the podium.” Third rider Steve Martin commented, “This third position feels like a victory for us. The weather conditions were tough; finally Igor went mad and very fast. I have to thank him for that!”
Team Manager Yamaha GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube
“We had a great race but couldn’t match the lap times as we had in qualifying. As a whole the race was encouraging for us and this is a positive result. Scoring very valuable fourth place points is a good start to the Championship. The team was flawless and the riders did an excellent job. Perfect pit stops allowed us to spend minimal amounts of time refueling and changing tyres. Our new R1 confirmed the potential we saw in winter testing and the Michelin tyres are competitive in all conditions. We’re certain that we’ll return to the podium soon.”
The next race in the series will be the Doha 8Hour in Qatar on the 10th of June.