Reigning World Champion’s GMT94 Yamaha clinched fifth today in the challenging Le Mans 24 Hours Moto, the opening round of 2015 FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC).
GMT94 Yamaha’s performance at the famous 24 Heures Motos du Mans, underlined the notion that consistency in riding and camaraderie between teammates are key elements for endurance racing.
David Checa was originally scheduled to take part in the traditional starting procedure of riders sprinting over the starting grid to get to their bikes. However, having sustained a leg injury in a crash on Tuesday, he was unable to run and had teammate Kenny Foray take his place.
Not being used to opening the racing action, the Frenchman took some laps to get a feel for the Circuit Bugatti - Le Mans track, but soon found his rhythm. Showing his determination, Foray rode from 24th to 11th in the rankings before handing the number 94 YZF-R1 over to Mathieu Gines, who was followed by Checa.
Thanks to consistent and smart riding, the GMT94 team enjoyed a strong first part of the race. They climbed up to third place in the time sheets before the eight-hour mark, granting them their first eight points of the championship.
However, as the race progressed it became clear that Checa’s injury was too serious for him to complete all his planned stints and it was soon decided that his teammates would ride double stints during the night to reduce his exertion.
After having completed 16 hours of non-stop racing, the amicable solidarity of the GMT94 team was rewarded with another four points as they held seventh place.
Though exhaustion took a toll on Foray and Gines as daylight broke, they still managed to finish the first race of the season in fifth place. This result brings their points total up to 33, allowing them to take fifth position in the overall championship standings.
The Monster Energy Yamaha YART team also displayed the incredible potential that the YZF-R1 has for the endurance class, the team were contenders for the victory over the first half of the race, but were later forced to retire due to a technical issue.
Max Neukirchner was the first rider of the Austrian team to take to the track and wasted no time joining a leading group of four and taking off with them at the front. It wasn’t long before the German took over the third spot, which he held until he handed the YZF-R1 over to the second rider Ivan Silva.
Similar to his teammate, the Spanish rider showed his eagerness to arrive at the front. Silva momentarily led the race, before he came back to the pits to switch places with third rider – and, as of this week, new Endurance Le Mans lap record holder - Sheridan Morais.
The YART team set the pace over the first eight hours, with a 1’38.381 fastest race lap. Riding in second place earned them nine points and as they started the 13th hour they were closing in on the frontrunner. It seemed that the team, led by Mandy Kainz, was set to compete for victory, but after 13h46 the team had to withdraw from the race due to a technical issue..
Despite this misfortune the team still picked up nine valuable point and data. They now hold 15th place in the championship standings and look forward to come back with an even stronger package at the next race in Suzuka, Japan, 25th and 26th of July.