This season gets underway with a marked increase in the number of teams racing every round of the championship: from 33 squads last season to 42 in 2018-2019.
The world championship has also drawn new participating countries. Sweden and Monaco will swell the ranks of endurance racing, while more Eastern European countries are joining the fray.
Importers too are getting more heavily involved. Six factory-backed teams will be at the start, some of them featuring stronger line-ups. F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Freddy Foray, Josh Hook and Mike Di Meglio) will be defending its title and all-new N°1 against Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Gregg Black), Honda Endurance Racing (Sébastien Gimbert, Gregory Leblanc and Erwan Nigon) and YART Yamaha (Broc Parkes, Niccolò Canepa and Marvin Fritz) as well as Team SRC Kawasaki France (Jeremy Guarnoni, David Checa and Randy de Puniet), which is back chasing the world title this season. The latest factory team ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance (formerly NRT48) marks a stronger showing by the German manufacturer. With a current rider line-up comprising Kenny Foray, Julien da Costa and Mathieu Gines, the team has performed consistently well since debuting in the FIM EWC back in 2013. A few challengers can however be expected to give the factory teams a run for their money, like Bolliger Team Switzerland (Kawasaki), Mercury Racing (BMW) and Webike Tati Team Trickstar (Julien Enjolras, Kevin Denis and Osamu Deguchi). This Franco-Japanese Kawasaki-mounted partnership will race the Bol d’Or in the Superstock class. Sweden Endurance Racing Team’s Yamaha-mounted trio (Christoffer Bergman, Jari Tuovinen and Ville Valtonen) will also be worth keeping an eye on.
Yamaha on all fronts
Yamaha is also officially backing a number of other teams, starting with Yamaha Viltaïs Pierret Experiences (Florian Alt, Axel Maurin, Alan Techer and Vincent Lonbois) which has just moved up into the EWC class. Team 3ART Moto Team 95 (Alex Plancassagne, Matthieu Lussiana and Pepijn Bijsterbosch) is also moving up into the EWC category with backing from Yamaha. Following a remarkable 2nd-place finish at last season’s Bol d’Or and a 3rd place at the 24 Heures Motos, Penz13 Wepol Racing has left BMW for Yamaha with the latter’s backing. The German team is entered in the Formula EWC category, but has yet to announce its rider line-up. Yamaha is also sponsoring Moto Ain ECS, a tie-up with the technical crew of Ecurie Chrono Sport. The team is aiming to win the 2018-2019 Superstock World Cup with riders Roberto Rolfo, Robin Mulhauser, Julien Pilote and Stefan Hill.
The first official free practice session of the Bol d’Or is scheduled for 9.30am CEST on Thursday 13 September. The 24-hour race will be flagged off at 3pm on Saturday 15 September.