Year Recap: 2022 EWC Season Heading To Bol d’Or!

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The 100th-anniversary Bol d’Or will decide the 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) this weekend. With a few Aussies pathing their way through the 2022 season, we will be cheering them on here. See below for a reminder of just some of what’s happened so far in this exciting season. 

The 100th-anniversary Bol d'Or will decide the 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship this weekend.
The 100th-anniversary Bol d’Or will decide the 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship this weekend.

24 HEURES MOTOS (16/17 April)

  • Qualifying fastest lap: YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC (Karel Hanika) 1m34.878s
  • Race fastest lap: Yoshimura SERT Motul (Gregg Black) 1m36.195s
  • Formula EWC winner: Yoshimura SERT Motul (Gregg Black, Xavier Siméon, Sylvain Guintoli), 840 laps
  • Superstock winner: Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers SMS Motostore (Hugo Clere, Baptiste Guittet, Philipp Steinmayr) 816 laps

Yoshimura SERT Motul made it back-to-back wins in the 24 Heures Motos to begin the defence of its FIM Endurance World Championship title in style. Riders Gregg Black, Sylvain Guintoli and Xavier Siméon were supreme for the Le Mans-based squad to win the 45th edition of an event that welcomed fans back after two years of COVID-19 restrictions and resulted in a combined attendance of 62,000.

Always quick, always consistent, the trio combined perfectly and never faltered, the only major scare coming when their Bridgestone-equipped Suzuki GSXR-1000 ran short of fuel during a lengthy safety car period late on Saturday afternoon. Otherwise, it was a result that reflected Yoshimura SERT Motul’s professionalism and meticulous preparation during 24 challenging hours, an approach that was visible up and down the pitlane as tireless human endeavour – mainly by volunteer crew members – took centre stage.

YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC started the EWC season opener on pole position for the third year running after Karel Hanika set a new lap record during Friday morning’s Second Qualifying session. But when the Yamaha YZF-R1 wouldn’t fire up at the start, the Czech rider joined team-mates Niccolò Canepa and Marvin Fritz in engaging in a heroic charge through the field to finish second, despite the starting issue remaining a hindrance throughout the race.

F.C.C. TSR Honda France, with Mike Di Meglio, Josh Hook and Gino Rea riding, was in front after eight hours, but the squad’s challenge soon unravelled with costly pitstops required to fix firstly a gear selector issue and then to replace a broken silencer. A ride-through penalty caused further delay, while team newcomer Rea fell on Sunday morning, but was able to bring the Honda CB R1000 RR-R back to the pits for repair. Although the delay briefly dropped F.C.C. TSR Honda France out of the podium places, it wasn’t long before the position was reclaimed.

Viltaïs Racing Igol ran as high as third and was in a comfortable fourth place as the best independent outfit when a technical failure led to a heart-breaking exit for the team.

Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore hit back from delays caused by a broken oil filter to convert its Superstock pole position into the category win in a fine fourth overall with its production-spec, Dunlop-equipped Yamaha. However, BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers, National Motos, No Limits Motor Team and Team 33 Louit April Moto all enjoyed spells at the front of the category with the top three often running in close proximity to each other. It was the ultimate advert for the FIM Endurance World Cup, which is contested by smaller, lesser funded teams during the three 24-hour races. No Limits Motor Team eventually finished second in the Dunlop Superstock Trophy in fifth overall following a flurry of late position changes with National Motos next ahead of 33 Louit April Moto.

Kawasaki-powered Formula EWC squad Team Bolliger Switzerland took eighth as Pitlane Endurance and Team LH Racing rounded out the top 10. Myriad delays restricted TATI Team Beringer Racing to P11, while ERC Endurance-Ducati’s fightback following a crash when Xavi Forès avoided a backmarker in the seventh hour was slowed by a lengthy pit stop on the Sunday.

Wójcik Racing Team was forced to retire its #77 entry following a mechanical failure and an accident. A holed radiator ended BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team’s hopes of what was shaping up to be a strong bid for a podium finish. Webike SRC Kawasaki France was had podium hopes of its own but they were dashed when the team was forced to spend more than one hour in the pits during the night.

It was a dramatic start to the race on Saturday when Christophe Seigneur was unable to avoid colliding with a slow-moving Bradley Smith. Seigneur was able to walk back to the pits, but ex-MotoGP rider Smith was taken to hospital for medical checks as a result of the substantial rear impact, having received immediate medical attention at the side of the track when the field circulated under safety car conditions. Smith’s MOTO AIN team, worked furiously to repair the damage but with the Yamaha not running in perfect order when it returned to the track and with only two drivers available for the full 24-hour duration, the French outfit made the tough decision to withdraw.


24H SPA EWC MOTOS (4/5 JUNE)

  • Qualifying fastest lap: YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC (Karel Hanika) 2m18.845s
  • Race fastest lap: Yoshimura SERT Motul (Sylvain Guintoli) 2m21.056s
  • Formula EWC winner: BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team (Markus Reiterberger, Illya Mykhalchyk, Jérémy Guarnoni), 508 laps
  • Superstock winner: Team LH Racing (Johan Nigon, Enzo de la Vega, Lukas Trautmann), 491 laps

There was non-stop action and drama when the FIM Endurance World Championship returned to Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for the first time in 21 years as the Belgian track delivered a race that matched up to its legendary status.

While BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team celebrated a maiden 24-hour EWC victory to follow up its breakthrough success in the six-hour 2021 season decider last October, the circuit’s ultra-challenging nature and rain for the final five hours combined to ensure rider skill came very much to the fore in the 24H SPA EWC Motos. As well as the efforts of riders Jérémy Guarnoni (France), Illya Mykhalchyk (Ukraine) and Markus Reiterberger (Germany), BMW’s success owed plenty to the expertise of its Belgium-based team, led by former rider Werner Daemen, and the reliability of the Dunlop-equipped BMW M1000RR.

Kawasaki-powered and Pirelli-equipped TATI Team Beringer Racing excelled to finish as the top independent team in second overall with newcomer Loïc Arbel joining forces with existing French riders Grégory Leblanc and Alan Techer.

F.C.C. TSR Honda France was holding off Yoshimura SERT Motul for the final podium spot as both squads battled back from major setbacks during the night. A lengthy red flag period to enable the clean-up of a substantial oil spillage with less than three hours meant Gino Rea would have only a handful of laps to reclaim the third place he lost to home hero Xavier Siméon in the pitstop sequence prior to the race suspension. Despite the challenging track conditions, Rea and Siméon engaged in an intense battle for position with Rea coming out on top following several place changes.

Yoshimura SERT Motul had been on top after 10 hours only for Sylvain Guintoli to be forced to pit for a replacement clutch and gearbox for his Bridgestone-equipped Suzuki GSX-R1000R. The work took more than 25 minutes to complete and wrecked hopes of a home win for the team’s Belgian rider Siméon in the process.

F.C.C. TSR Honda France took advantage of the misfortune that hit its fellow Japanese team but there was despair when Rea was onboard the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP as bike’s chain failed after 15 hours of running. It left the Briton with no choice but to push his stricken machine back to the pits. That long delay plus the 15 minutes spent making repairs dropped F.C.C. TSR Honda France down the order before its late comeback.

Worse was to come for both squads when Anglo-Frenchman Gregg Black and Mike Di Meglio, from France, crashed their Suzuki and Honda respectively in quick succession as the Sunday morning rain intensified. Black managed to limp his wrecked machine back to the pits for rapid repairs while Di Meglio was able to continue without stopping having only inflicted limited damage to his bike.

Having started from pole, YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC was forced into an unscheduled pit stop for a replacement speed sensor after three hours. Despite the delay of more than four minutes, the performances of its riders Niccolò Canepa (Italy), Marvin Fritz (Germany) and polesitter Karel Hanika (Czech Republic) put the Austrian team back into contention. Following a battle for the lead between Fritz and BMW rider Mykhalchyk, it was the Japanese marque in front after 18 hours. But the advantage would not last when the YZF-R1, with Canepa onboard, suffered engine failure.

Elsewhere, Wójcik Racing Team EWC 77 completed the top five followed by Viltaïs Racing Igol and Team Moto Ain, which overcame an overheating issue. Dunlop-equipped Team LH Racing claimed FIM Endurance World Cup honours in eighth overall, courtesy of riders Enzo de la Vega, Johan Nigon and Lukas Trautmann, a late addition to its line-up. It finished ahead of Team Bolliger Switzerland and Team LRP Poland following a late change of positions between the latter pair.

Team 33 Louit April Moto had led the Superstock category but lost out on glory when Kevin Calia crashed in wet conditions with his Kawasaki suffering a blown engine in the process. Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motobase had been second at the time but appeared to be in trouble when Baptiste Guittet was one of several drivers to crash at Les Combes. However, the French outfit managed to hold onto its second place ahead of OG Motorsport by Sarazin, which suffered with traction issues.

National Motos was in the fight for first when it retired after a stone damaged the Honda’s radiator and caused the engine to overheat. Two unscheduled pit stops for “technical issues” hit the No Limits Motor Team’s chances, which were further compromised when Stefan Hill crashed just before eight hours. Danny Webb suffered a fall early into his first stint on the Superstock pole-sitting Wójcik Racing Team STK 777 Yamaha, which was also delayed by an accident for Marek Szkopek.

BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers dropped out of contention following a spate of delays. A crash for 3ART Best of Bike during the early hours of this morning led to a second safety car period after an accident for the JMA Racing Action Bike close to five hours had resulted in the first safety car. Despite the JMA team’s Suzuki catching fire, exhaustive repairs enabled the squad to continue. Falcon Racing was denied a strong result by a blown engine, but Pitlane Endurance, Team Aviobike, RAC 41 ChromeBurner and Énergie Endurance finished in the top 20 among the eligible teams. TRT 27 / Bazar 2 La Bécane, Team 202 and ADSS 97 all finished, as did Formula EWC outfit Motobox Kremer Racing.

There was early heartache for Webike SRC Kawasaki France with Randy de Puniet crashing out shortly after two and a half hours of racing. After Florian Marino had led the pack into La Source for the first time and was part of the five-way fight for first during the opening hour, hopes of a strong result unravelled when Marino fell following contact at the chicane nearing the end of his stint. More than three minutes were lost while repairs were made to the ZX 10R before Etienne Masson could begin his stint, which was hampered when he also fell at the chicane due to brake issues. It led to a six-minute delay before de Puniet’s crash compounded a miserable afternoon. Marino, meanwhile, was taken to hospital for checks following his fall.

ERC Endurance-Ducati suffered an early setback when the German squad was forced to make an unscheduled stop due to a fuel pump issue, which followed a slow start from Xavi Forès. However, with the problem returning during the night the team was forced to retire.

The 24H SPA EWC Motos, which revived the spirit of the famous 24 Heures de Liège, began with a spectacular Le Mans-style running start in front of the packed main grandstand and in blazing sunshine. The opening hour then delivered stunning action and multiple lead changes. The entire the top five – Gregg Black, Marvin Fritz, Josh Hook, Florian Marino and Markus Reiterberger – took their turn in front as breath-taking multiple overtakes thrilled fans trackside and watching the live broadcasts around the world.


43RD COCA-COLA SUZUKA 8 HOURS ENDURANCE RACE (7 AUGUST)

  • Qualifying fastest lap: Team HRC (Tetsuta Nagashima) 2m04.934s
  • Race fastest lap: Team HRC (Tetsuta Nagashima) 2m06.934s
  • Formula EWC winner: Team HRC (Tetsuta Nagashima, Takumi Takahashi, Iker Lecuona), 214 laps

Team HRC made it three different winners from three rounds of this season’s FIM Endurance World Championship with victory in the 43rd Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours, the ace line-up of Tetsuta Nagashima, Takumi Takahashi and Iker Lecuona taking the chequered flag by more than one lap. The #33 CBR1000RR-RSP was peerless throughout the race and, save for a brief dice at the early restart, there was little doubt of who was favourite for top spot baring the unexpected.

Japan’s round of the EWC started under surprising blue skies after a build-up week of alternating grey hazy humidity or rain. Team HRC led the pack away cleanly, but there was huge frustration for Niccolò Canepa, whose slow start dropped the YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC entry from third to 25th. The Italian’s delay was in complete contrast to Gregg Black on the rival #1 Yoshimura SERT Motul GSX-R1000R, who had a stormer, charging up to fourth from 22nd on the first lap.

But the high-paced action was quickly neutralised when the safety car was deployed for the first time after Kosuke Sakumoto (#17 Astemo Honda Dream SI Racing CBR1000RR-R) took out Naomichi Uramoto on the SDG Honda Racing version of the same bike heading into T13. Despite the huge nature of the crash, both riders were uninjured but the bike recovery and clean-up process led to seven laps behind the safety car.

Once racing resumed Black, Takahashi and Kawasaki Racing Team’s Leon Haslam battled for first place before the HRC entry moved back in front and started to pull clear. Canepa, meanwhile, had done an impressive job to redeem his slow start, up to 10th by lap 10, seventh a lap later, and into third position by lap 14. Marvin Fritz took over from Canepa on lap 26 when the first round of pitstops began. Randy de Puniet fell at low speed at Degner 2 and a seven-minute stop was needed for repairs to the #10 Websike SRC Kawasaki France machine.

A second safety car period was required at the two-hour mark following an off for the #51 entry. Having been picked up by the second of two safety cars, it would get worse for the #10 Kawasaki Racing Team before it got better with Jonathan Rea dropping the ZX-10R while navigating traffic coming into the chicane. Meanwhile, an overheating issue forced Illya Mykhalchyk to push the #37 BMW M1000RR back to the pits in the searing heat and the Belgian team retired with a coolant retention issue.

As the deciding hour started to tick by, so a rear tyre change took longer than planned for YART before Fritz headed out for his final stint. But there would soon be consternation as the German got caught up with the #74 Akeno Speed – Yamaha Superstock bike at T13 with both bikes ending up embedded in the air barriers following contact. Fritz was eventually able to resume and head back to the pits for extensive bike repairs, while a time penalty for the contact also had to be served, leaving the Austrian squad seventh.

YART’s woes let in Yoshimura SERT Motul for the final podium spot behind the winning Team HRC entry and Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuka 8H, while F.C.C. TSR Honda France placed P10 having fought back up the order after an early brake master cylinder change, plus brake and exhaust issues. With Gino Reo hospitalised with serious head injuries following his crash in Saturday practice, Mike Di Meglio and Josh Hook competed as a twosome, but Hook made a strong start to briefly lead.


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