2023-07-24 13:07
Yoshimura SERT Motul finished in fourth place at the second round of the FIM Endurance World Championship held over the weekend of the 17th and 18th June at the EWC 24 Heures Spa Motos. The team also moved up to fourth overall in the championship standings.

The legendary 6.985km Spa-Francorchamps Circuit in Belgium, the longest circuit of the Endurance World Championship, is world renowned for being demanding on both team crew and riders. It tested Yoshimura SERT Motul all the way to the final hour.

Yoshimura SERT Motul started the second edition of the Spa EWC Motos from third place on the grid after a set of solid qualifying sessions. The riders took to the track, for the unique Le Mans start, in bright sunshine and high temperatures on a circuit that is very tough.

Gregg Black, once again, proved himself to be the start specialist by taking the holeshot, leading into the first corner. The high-performance of the team’s Suzuki GSX-R1000R provided the riders with the confidence required to attack and control the early stages of the race, dominating its rivals.

The safety car was often brought out and luck (good and bad) played a part with pit-in timing. The team continually swapped places with the Yamaha and Honda teams, putting in fast and consistent stints. However, just after five hours, when the top three teams including Yoshimura SERT Motul were battling within a second of each other, the team was given a stop-and-go penalty for touching a slower rider and causing him to crash. A part of the on-board camera fell off as a result of the contact and the team was instructed by Race Control to remove the kit. This work caused a problem which required repair work to be carried out in the pits and the team lost a lap which placed them a lap down from the leader.

To close the gap on the leader, the three riders rode hard, and team crew carried out fast and reliable pit work. When the sun went down, Yoshimura SERT Motul proved its strength and continued to put pressure on its rivals. Sylvain Guintoli posted a super-fast lap record time of 2.20.578 on lap 164, which became the fastest lap of the event.

Mid-morning on Sunday while still battling for victory, Yoshimura SERT Motul experienced an issue with an engine auxiliary item which required crew intervention. The team was relegated to fourth place.

They returned to the race five laps down and each rider gave it everything they had but, it was a gap they were unable to close. In the final hours, rain dropped over a few areas of the track and Etienne Masson put in a valiant performance to take the team to fourth across the finish line.

At the end of a race highlighted by several twists and turns, the Franco-Japanese team didn't give up and finished just off the podium, in fourth position. The team now has 66 points after a difficult race, which puts it in fourth place in the FIM EWC championship.

Yohei KATO – team director
“It wasn't the result we'd hoped for. We had two main problems, the first when the onboard camera needed to be removed and then, when we were in second place and closing on the leader, an issue with an engine auxiliary item. I’m sorry for everyone who works with us and supports us. The riders and the bike performed well during the race. We're now going to do everything we can to win at Suzuka and the Bol d'Or!”

Damien SAULNIER – team manager
“It's hard to fall short of getting on the podium after all that effort. We had a great week here in Spa and we were very well prepared for the race. The team did a good job, the collaboration with the Japanese worked very well and the tires performed well also. But in endurance racing, you sometimes need a bit of luck, and we didn't have any. And as it was also the case at Le Mans this year, I hope that bad luck will change sides next time! The team is looking forward to getting back the results it deserves.”

Gregg BLACK - rider
“This was the race for us not to miss. I'm obviously disappointed with our result because we were really well prepared. We took a good start and managed to set the pace when we needed to in order to fight with the leaders. Despite a few small problems and a stop-and-go penalty that was really unfortunate, we were still in with a chance of winning because the whole team did a great job. But a problem in the final hours stopped us in our tracks. We missed the podium and now things are more complicated for the championship.”

Sylvain GUINTOLI - rider
“Of course, we'd come here to do a lot better than that. Unfortunately, we had a few problems during the race. It's a shame because we gave it our all. Personally, I feel completely drained after this race. But the result isn't there. It's a shame. There are still two races to go, so there's still hope. We just need luck to be on our side at last.”

Etienne MASSON - rider
“I’m frustrated because we were really on the pace here. We gave it our all but, in the end, our efforts weren't rewarded. We made too many little mistakes; the problem caused by removing the onboard camera, and the penalty, should have been avoided. It cost us a lot in the end. After that, my team-mates and I did everything we could to come back and put pressure on our rivals, but it wasn't enough. It's a shame because everyone deserved a better result. We miss winning and we're starting to feel the clock is ticking!”

Source: Redcat News

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