The two-time FIM Endurance World Championship race winner from Germany was quickest among the Blue Riders in a time of 1m52.267s. Josh Hook left it late to go second fastest for F.C.C. TSR Honda France with a 1m52.511s, while Niccolò Canepa (YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC) placed third on a 1m52.925s. Leon Haslam who is taking part in his first 24-hour race this weekend and has never previously competed at Circuit Paul Ricard was fourth quickest for TATI Team Beringer Racing (1m53.117s), as a late charge from Randy de Puniet allowed the Webike SRC Kawasaki France rider to shoot up to fifth place in a time of 1m53.191s, just ahead of Viltaïs Racing Igol’s Florian Alt. Kevin Manfredi underlined his status as a Circuit Paul Ricard expert with the fastest Superstock category time, the Italian posting a best effort of 1m54.674s for Wójcik Racing Team, 0.337s faster than Sébastien Suchet could manage for National Motos Honda. Manfredi’s effort was the best Superstock time of all.
Illya Mykhalchyk continued Dunlop-equipped BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team’s strong First Qualifying Form by setting the fastest time in the Yellow Rider session. The Ukraine rider topped the order in 1m52.415s. Mike Di Meglio was second for F.C.C. TSR Honda France in a time of 1m52.630s with Marvin Fritz (1m53.307s) third for YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC. Xevi Fores dropped his ERC Endurance-Ducati but not before he’d posted a 1m53.470s best to go fourth quickest followed by Wójcik Racing Team’s Sheridan Morais (1m53.642s). Étienne Masson was sixth for Webike SRC Kawasaki France with a lap of 1m53.747s. After Isaac Viñales went seventh quickest for Team Moto Ain in the opening Blue Rider session, Corentin Perolami did likewise for the French privateer outfit in the Yellow Rider running in 1m53.789s. MACO Racing’s Enzo Boulom finished P10. Valentin Suchet ensured National Motos Honda topped the Superstock order ahead of Wójcik Racing Team’s Danny Webb, essentially a swap of positions between the squads from the previous session. Adrian Parassol suffered a fall from his Pitlane Endurance Yamaha but walked away unaided.
YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC’s Karel Hanika, the pole-sitter for the 24 Heures Motos and 24H SPA EWC Motos, prevented a BMW-powered clean sweep with the quickest time in the Red Rider session. The Bridgestone-equipped Czech posted a 1m52.914s best, which was 0.044s faster than the time Jérémy Guarnoni could manage for BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team. Alan Techer (1m53.159s) was third fastest on his return to F.C.C. TSR Honda France in place of the injured Gino Rea, with Florian Marino fourth for Websike SRC Kawasaki France (1m53.190s). There were strong EWC comeback performances from Sylvain Guintoli and Bastien Mackels, who missed the races at Suzuka and Spa-Francorchamps respectively through injury. Guintoli was fifth quickest on FIM Endurance World Championship leader Yoshimura SERT Motul’s #1 Suzuki with Mackels seventh for Kawasaki-powered TATI Team Beringer Racing. However, Guintoli’s 1m53.616s effort didn’t quite make him the fastest of the Yoshimura SERT Motul trio with that honour going to Gregg Black, who set a 1m53.527s, the eighth-best time, in the Blue Rider session. Kazuki Watanabe was ninth quickest for the France-based Japanese team in the Yellow Rider session in a time of 1m54.071s. Elsewhere in the Red Rider running, Steven Odendaal was sixth quickest for Viltaïs Racing Igol with two-time Bol d’Or winner David Checa eighth. Philipp Steinmayr ensured three different Superstock teams took their turn to set the pace with the Austrian quickest for Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore. Meanwhile, a crash for Junior Team LMS Suzuki’s Charles Cortot at T7 caused the session to be red-flagged to enable damage to trackside safety barriers to be repaired.
Kenny Foray was fastest for BMW Motorrad World Endurance in the Green Rider session for reserves, the Frenchman posting an impressive 1m52.717s. Lorenzo Zanetti, who had been due to contest the full EWC season for ERC Endurance-Ducati only to suffer serious injuries when he crashed during a race in Italy prior to the Le Mans opener, was second fastest followed by Yoshimura SERT Motul’s Christian Iddon, Robin Mulhauser (YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC) and James Westmoreland (Viltaïs Racing Igol). Wójcik Racing Team’s young Hungarian Bálint Kovács was the quickest Superstock competitor.
Qualifying results are based on the average time of a team’s fastest two riders (the results of the fourth rider are not taken into account) from today’s First Qualifying and Friday’s Second Qualifying. All riders per team must qualify within 108 per cent of the fastest team in each category.
Night Practice is up next for the EWC riders and their teams from 20h30 CET with Second Qualifying due to begin at 09h55 tomorrow (Friday).
Formula EWC: Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team) 1m52.267s
Superstock: Kevin Manfredi (Wójcik Racing Team) 1m54.674s
Formula EWC: Illya Mykhalchyk (BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team) 1m52.415s
Superstock: Valentin Suchet (National Motos Honda) 1m55.259s
Formula EWC: Karel Hanika (YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC) 1m52.914s,
Superstock: Philipp Steinmayr (Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore) 1m55.571s
Formula EWC: Kenny Foray (BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team) 1m52.717s
Superstock: Bálint Kovács (Wójcik Racing Team) 1m55.859s