The race to win the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship was turned on its head overnight as F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s hopes of back-to-back title success were left hanging by a thread following its Bol d’Or exit.
Having taken the coveted crown at Circuit Paul Ricard 12 months ago, the Japanese squad hit trouble shortly before 3am when Mike Di Meglio was forced to push the #1 Honda after it stopped at the entrance to the pitlane. Despite its best efforts, the team was forced to retire with a terminal technical issue at 03h26.
Fourth but on the same lap as is its three rivals after eight hours of racing, BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team’s chances of EWC title joy were wrecked by an electronic issue shortly after 00h30, which took some eight minutes for the Belgian squad’s mechanics to repair. It had been firmly in the lead fight at the time and lost more ground when it was forced to make a second unscheduled stop at 06h34.
While the title chase had taken a decisive turn with two of the three genuine contenders out of the running, the focus – as it had been since 1am – was firmly on the battle for first between Yoshimura SERT Motul, which led after eight hours, despite Gregg Black falling at 20h39 – and Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team, the main beneficiary of drama behind.
The rival squads switched position with regular frequency during the night as the 86th Bol d’Or delivered an epic fight for glory. After 16 hours, France-based Yoshimura SERT Motul was in front by two laps to bag another 10 points at the second intermediate, as the Austrian YART team moved a step closer to the EWC title, noticeably dropping its pace to guarantee the points it needs to overtake F.C.C. TSR Honda France in the standings.
With the race moving into its 17th hour, Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team is just four points behind F.C.C. TSR Honda France, which now needs YART to non-finish to stand any chance of a second consecutive FIM Endurance World Championship.
Despite a longer-than-planned pitstop at 06h45, the 2022 Bol d’Or-winning Honda Viltaïs Racing team was third at the 16-hour mark, one place ahead of Kawasaki-powered TATI Team Beringer Racing, which enjoyed a brief stint in the lead during the opening hour when it capitalised on its decision to use intermediate tyres for the rapidly drying conditions.
BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team is fifth with Team Kawasaki Webike Trickstar sixth after it lost time with a broken chain at 03h27. It made another unplanned stop at 06h18 but continued following repairs.
Team LRP Poland is a strong seventh in the Formula EWC ranking followed by Maco Racing Team, KM99 and Team Bolliger Switzerland.
Belgian outfit KM99, making its Bol d’Or debut, was in the top five when its Yamaha stopped on track – with Lucas Mahias on board – at 01h25 due to a technical issue. Approximately 30 minutes were lost before Bastien Mackels returned to action. Repairs to a broken front brake adjustor cable had earlier cost the team two minutes in the pits.
Wójcik Racing Team’s #77 dropped out shortly after eight hours having been delayed by an electronic issue early in the race.
Chas Davies stopped from the lead battle with 40 minutes of the race run to hand over to Xavi Forés. But his replacement was soon in trouble after a collision at the final corner left the Spaniard limping to the side of the track and his Ducati Pingale V4R suffering terminal damage. The incident led to an early safety car intervention.
National Motos Honda Super in FIM Endurance World Cup victory push
Despite Valentin Suchet falling at just after 2am, National Motos Honda is on course to win the FIM Endurance World Cup with the French squad leading Team 33 Louit April Moto and Chromeburner-RAC41-Honda at the 16-hour points-paying mark.
OG Motorsport World Endurance Team was in third but dropped to fourth when Chris Leesch overtook Roberto Rolfo at 04h44.
Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore is fifth with Pitlane Endurance - JP3 in sixth ahead of BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers, 3ART Best of Bike and Wójcik Racing Team.
Having started the Bol d’Or in contention for Dunlop Superstock Trophy honours, Honda No Limits and Tecmas-MRP-BMW Racing Team dropped out in the opening stages. The former was eliminated in collision, while Kenny Foray had covered a little more than 30 minutes when engine failure forced the #9 into retirement. ADSS 97, Falcon Racing and Slider Endurance have also retired. The Bol d’Or is due to finish at 15h00 CET.
LIVE TIMING: https://www.its-live.net/#/live/ewc/2023/boldor/live
HOW TO WATCH: https://www.fimewc.com/where-to-watch