Two days of testing at Le Mans for the World Superbike teams who will race the 24 Hours on 21 and 22 April. In the rain of the first day, the FCC Honda came out on top, while in the dry of Wednesday, the YART team literally made the void. But too many big drivers are behind, and they have obviously used the tests to work in other areas
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is approaching, and on Tuesday and Wednesday 3 and 4 April many teams met up on the French circuit for the last official test before the pre-race practice.
The weather as often happens in that area, has been rather unpredictable, with a rainy and cold Tuesday, while on Wednesday the dry track allowed the teams to raise the pace.
The best were the Austrians from Team YART Yamaha (Parkes, Fritz, Fujita, Morais), who finished at 1’36”867. Many people think that part of the merits is of the new sports director, Max Neukirchner, but certainly the young Japanese Superbike rider Takuya Fujita surprised everyone being very fast, along with the other young rider Marvin Fritz.
Behind them, at a considerable distance (1.7 seconds), were the Germans of the NRT 48-BMW Motorrad (Foray Kenny, Kerschbaumer, Glöckner), that made 1’38″586. Today they are BMW’s official team, after 4th place at Bol d’Or 2017, and they are making it clear that they are ready for the top position. Another BMW, the one of the French Team Tecmas (Da Costa, Hedelin, Perret and Bonnot), followed at 1’38″824.
Honda Endurance Racing (Gimbert, Leblanc, Nigon) posted the fourth best time of 1’39″159 and Team F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Foray Freddy, Techer, Hook and Tizon Ibanez), who after dominating in the rain of the first day, on Wednesday stopped at 1’39″426 that is the fifth best time.
The Junior Team Le Mans Sud Suzuki (Clere, Sarrabayrouse, Rossi, Dupuy) with 1’39″723 was the best Superstock team in these tests, ahead of the Kawasaki SRC (Gines, De Puniet, Guarnoni and Berchet) and the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Philippe, Masson and Black), who took advantage of these tests to refine their settings and the choice of tyres.
The April Moto Motors Events Team, which returns to the track with a new Suzuki, and the R2CL Team complete the top 10 of these Le Mans testing sessions.
As for the reigning World Champion Team, the GMT94 Yamaha (Di Meglio, Canepa and Checa), they shone in the rain of the first day, with a good third time, then they dedicated their time to tuning the bike.
It is clear that, while the leaderboard of these tests can highlight the teams that have the bike already set up, in the top positions are formations that – inevitably – will emerge during of the race.
Moreover, in Endurance, you don’t go any slower, but you should not forget that it is not the fast lap that is the one to focus on. Rather the race pace. And here we talk about 24 hours.
Meanwhile, two interesting news stands out. The first is that BMW is becoming more and more a formidable candidate for the final victory with its bikes. And then the addition of Bridgestone to the top tyre manufacturers. At the moment the Japanese company equips among others, YART Yamaha, F.C.C. TSR Honda France and Mercury Racing. All teams that have already proved competitive in both dry and wet conditions.
There are 60 teams registered in the Le Mans 24 Hours (out of 76 that had applied). Divided into 24 Formula EWC bikes, 34 Superstock bikes and 2 prototypes.
HERE the full team list
These are the best times of the second day of practice
- YART Yamaha – 1’36″867
- Team NRT48 BMW Motorrad – 1’38″586
- Team Tecmas BMW – 1’38″824
- Honda Endurance Racing – 1’39″159
- F”C”C” TSR Honda Francia – 1’39″426
- Squadra Junior Le Mans Sud Suzuki – 1’39″723
- Squadra SRC Kawasaki – 1’39″868
- Suzuki Endurance Racing Team – 1’40″021
- Team Aprile Motos Motori Eventi (Suzuki) – 1’40″127
- Squadra R2CL (Suzuki) – 1’40″168
- HRT 100 Hertrampf Racing (Ducati) – 1’40″597
- Mercury Racing (BMW) – 1’40″721
- Atomic Motosport (Suzuki) – 1’41″326
- Tati Team Beaujolais Racing (Kawasaki) – 1’41″387