The 8 Hours of Oschersleben has been cancelled, after the initial postponement due to COVID restrictions in Germany, from original the May 23 date.
Since then, the FIM, Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme, Eurosport Events, the promoter of the FIM EWC, and the organisers of the race in Germany have been working together to reschedule the 8 Hours of Oschersleben on the 2021 calendar.
Their priority was to offer teams a new calendar compatible with their logistical organisation, which would take into account the other date changes, of the 24 Heures Motos (12 and 13 June) and the 12 Hours of Estoril (17 July), as well as the organization of the Bol d’Or on 18 and 19 September and the Suzuka 8 Hours on 7 November.
The other priority was to find a date that would give the event the most international visibility after the end of the Tokyo Olympic Games. In light of these requirements, the only suitable date was mid-August.
Despite these joint efforts, unfortunately the Oschersleben circuit was unable to cancel its previously undertaken commitments for that date. As a result, the 8 Hours of Oschersleben will not take place during the 2021 FIM EWC season.
François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events
“We genuinely regret being unable to include the 8 Hours of Oschersleben on the 2021 calendar. Oschersleben has been part of the FIM EWC races since 1999. It is also an important race for German and East European teams, of which an ever-increasing number are entering the championship.”
Jorge Viegas, FIM President
“Despite the fact we could not find an alternative date for the traditional 8 Hours of Oschersleben, we look forward to welcoming back this race next year. In the meantime, the remainder of the 2021 FIM EWC calendar will be run as is planned, but keeping in mind that we must maintain flexibility until we are over with the pandemic. We sincerely thanks everyone involve for the continuous efforts. Please stay strong!”
The 2021 FIM Endurance World Championship schedule will feature five races spanning five nations, with the season kicking off at Le Mans in France with the 24 Heures Motos in mid-April. 2021 will also see three major races return to the calendar after being postponed in 2020.
Jorge Viegas – President of the FIM
“Once again we will do everything possible to ensure that the FIM Endurance World Championship has a worthy calendar, one that can offer all the protagonists a balanced and exciting competition. Even if the pandemic is not over, the FIM and Eurosport Events are continuing to work tirelessly to deliver an unforgettable show thanks to the ongoing support of the organisers and National Federations in each country.”
Following the last race of the 2019-2020 season in Portugal last September, the 2021 season of the FIM Endurance World Championship will open in France on 17 and 18 April with the 24 Heures Motos at the Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans.
The 8 Hours of Oschersleben is scheduled for Sunday 23 May in Germany. Then the FIM EWC will once again stage the Suzuka 8 Hours, to be held in Japan on Sunday 18 July just before the start of the Tokyo Olympics.
The Bol d’Or will take place on the Paul Ricard Circuit at Le Castellet in France on 18 and 19 September. As in 2020, the 12 Hours of Estoril wraps up the 2021 season in Portugal. The race will be held on Saturday 16 October at the circuit near Lisbon.
François Ribeiro – Head of Eurosport Events
“We have not put the pandemic behind us as yet, but ensuring the sport’s continuity remains a priority for 2021. Every single race will take place as scheduled whatever the conditions of spectator attendance at the circuits, and the 2021 calendar will help teams keep their costs in check. All of the championship’s big classic races are back to offer fans an exciting show ahead of the first-ever 24H de Spa Motos in June 2022.”
The F.C.C. TSR Honda France team, of the FIM Endurance World Championship will go into the 2021 season with a new three rider line-up, with Yuki Takahashi joining Australian Josh Hooks and Frenchman Mike di Meglio, with the line-up announced at Suzuka.
Yuki Takahashi, who caught the eye in the GP250 (5th in 2008) and subsequently in Moto2, has also made his mark in the JSB 1000 Superbike championship (fifth in 2018), and recently won the first All Japan Superstock 1000 title in the new category the Japanese championship introduced in 2020.
Most importantly, Yuki Takahashi has a strong track record in the Suzuka 8 Hours. He climbed the third step of the 2010 Suzuka 8 Hours podium with F.C.C. TSR Honda, and finished second in 2012 in the saddle of Toho Racing with Moriwaki’s Honda. He then continued racing with Moriwaki, regularly finishing in the top 10 at Suzuka.
“I’m thrilled to join the F.C.C. TSR Honda France team. As a child, my dream was to become world champion. I have MotoGP and World Superbike experience. I’ll do my utmost to become the world champion in the FIM EWC with this team.”
Yuki Takahashi has now signed up to be a full-season FIM Endurance World Championship rider alongside another two of the sport’s great champions.
27-year-old Josh Hook, who won the 2017-2018 FIM EWC title with F.C.C. TSR Honda France, stepped onto the Suzuka 8 Hours podium for the Japanese team in both 2015 and 2017.
Mike di Meglio is the team’s final rider, and was the GP125 world champion in 2008, not to mention a Moto2 and then MotoGP rider, and has been proven a force to be reckoned with in EWC since 2017.
Josh Hook and Mike di Meglio campaigned the F.C.C. TSR Honda France Fireblade to third in this year’s championship, taking victory at 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as second at the 12 Hours of Estoril, ending the season just six-points off second placed YART, while trailing SERT by 24-points.
The 24 Heures Motos victory in August on the 2020 CBR1000RR-R’s was its maiden outing, with F.C.C. TSR Honda France aiming to reclaim the world title with their new line-up in 2021, on the new machine.
Masakazu Fujii – Team Manager of F.C.C. TSR Honda France
“Yuki Takahashi took part in our tests in Japan before the 24 Heures Motos. This project was not on the cards back then. But you have to make constant progress and try to improve the entire team – the riders, the machine and the technical crew – to win. Yuki Takahashi is an excellent rider, with a personality I relate to and appreciate. This project will further strengthen our East-West collaboration.”
The Yamalube YART Yamaha Team have taken victory in the first-ever Estoril 12-Hour after a sublime performance from Karel Hanika, Marvin Fritz and Niccoló Canepa. The Wojcik Racing Team and Moto AIN team made it a triple celebration for Yamaha on the Estoril podium, with Wojcik finishing third overall and Moto AIN taking the FIM Superstock World Cup race win and 2019/2020 title.
The premier FIM Endurance World Championship crown though went to the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team. SERT won the 2019-2020 Endurance World Championship and are now 16-time title victors with riders Etienne Masson, Gregg Black and Xavier Simeon recorded 416 laps of the Estoril Circuit aboard their GSX-R1000 to cross the finish line in fourth position and claim the season victory by 18 points over runners-up YART.
At the Estporil 12-Hour YART Yamaha and F.C.C. TSR Honda France battled it out until the last minute of an action-packed race. After a 12-hour thriller, YART Yamaha won the day thanks to riders Karel Hanika, Marvin Fritz and Niccolò Canepa, with a less-than-25-second lead over F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Mike di Meglio. Their win is equally a victory for Bridgestone, supplier to these two highly competitive teams.
The YART Yamaha squad got their championship-deciding race underway in the hands of Marvin Fritz. The German had a tough start, suffering from a small technical issue, dropping to the back of the field as the pack battled their way into turn one.
The former IDM Superbike champion kept a calm head, quickly making his way through the field, he found himself lying in seventh at the end of the first five minutes. Fritz continued to work his way towards the front, setting an early fastest lap as the track temperature began to rise.
As he found his rhythm, Fritz was just out of podium reach after making his way up to fourth. He wasted no time getting past the F.C.C TSR Honda, swooping around the outside at the final corner, finishing the move into turn one, he began to chase after the race leader.
After an impressive first stint, Fritz handed the YART R1 over to Karel Hanika, who instantly began to pile the pressure on the BMW team. However, his opening stint was made a little easier, taking the lead of the race after the BMW Motorrad team crashed out of contention.
Controlling the pace, YART continued to dominate proceedings. Hanika was deep into his second stint when he suffered a small technical issue with his right footrest. Unalarmed, he kept a calm head, alerting the team before pulling in to make the quick repair. With just over four hours on the clock, Niccoló Canepa took over from the Czech rider.
As the race approached its half-way mark, YART held a lead of just one second over the F.C.C TSR Honda, with a battle that was set to go down to the wire.
As the track temperature continued to rise to 43 degrees, Hanika had a steady start to his next stint, building temperature into his Bridgestone tyres. With just under six hours remaining, there was no room for error in the second-longest race of the season. The Czech rider was quick to settle into his next stint, shadowing the F.C.C TSR Honda team and eventually took the lead back at turn six after losing it briefly on his out lap.
“We had a good bike throughout the race and we had the pace to win the race. It was definitely hard during the back-to-back stints towards the end. There are definitely some things we have to improve on in the pit lane, because I think this cost us a good chance of winning this race. But we have to be happy with the result, we finished second, our lap times were good and even if it’s not a win it’s a good result. When your bike is amazing, it doesn’t matter where you are. The team has made an amazing job in here and I want to say a big thank you to the team and everybody who was involved. I am already looking forward to next year.”
With two-thirds race distance approaching, the pressure was back on YART after their lead was closed down once again. With Fritz back on board, the German held on to the lead at the eight-hour mark, collecting ten further championship points, adding to the five they took for pole position.
There were more celebrations at the eight-hour mark as the Moto AIN DAFY squad confirmed their FIM Endurance World Cup title thanks to the efforts of Roby Rolfo, Robin Mulhauser and Hugo Clere.
Back at the front, Hanika ran into further issues, experiencing another problem with his right footrest. Both YART and Hanika were quick to fix the problem and continued to lap comfortably in the low 1:40’s as the sun began to set on the Estoril track.
With two hours remaining, YART Yamaha found themselves in a battle for the lead once again, with two different strategies for the leading two teams. However, YART used their experience to time their final pit stop to perfection, with Fritz pitting for a splash and dash nine minutes before the end of the race, securing the victory by 24.5 seconds.
Unfortunately for the team, despite a clean sweep, it wasn’t enough to take the world championship, finishing the ultra-competitive 2019/2020 EWC season in second overall, 18 points adrift of eventual winners, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team.
The Wojcik Yamaha Team had a strong race, running inside the top five throughout the 12-hours to take an overall third place, joining YART on the podium. Meanwhile, Moto AIN rode to an impressive eighth place, taking the World Cup race win and the 2019/2020 crown.
Another strong result saw Yamaha crowned manufacturers champions, picking up 237 points across the 2019/2020 FIM Endurance World Championship season.
Mandy Kainz: Team Manager, Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Team
“On paper, it looked clear; I don’t think we’ve ever dominated like this before. From free practice to night practice, qualifying and warm-up, we were dominating the field, but it wasn’t an easy race. It was a mixed race, with some bad luck and some luck on our side, it shows once again how unpredictable Endurance is. But in the end, we did what we wanted to do, we took maximum points, and came close to winning the championship. We once again showed the potential of the team, the new R1 and the Bridgestone tyres. The team did an amazing job; we were on top in every session; everything was perfect. It was a hard battle with Honda, but in the end, we came out on top!”
VRD Igol Pierret Experiences were 5th at the finish after a 12-hour battle with the factory teams. In the saddle of the Yamaha 333, Florian Alt, Florian Marino and Nico Terol finished ahead of Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar and BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team. The Kawasaki team lost out on a podium due to a broken chain. After leading at the start of the race, the factory BMW team powered back up through the field to 7th place overall following a crash.
The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team had spent over an hour at the head of the field, before things took a turn for the worse. Hickman skidded and crashed in a left-hander. He was able to continue, but the relatively minor crash caused such severe damage to the bike that it required a long stop for repairs. That saw the #37 bike drop back to 19th place, eight laps behind the leaders. As the race progressed, the trio of Reiterberger, Foray and Hickman set about gradually working their way back through the field. After 12 hours, the #37 crossed the finish line in seventh place.
The 2019/20 season, which started one year ago at Le Castellet, had been reduced to four races as a result of the coronavirus. The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team claimed its first podium against the top-class world championship field with third place at the opening round. The next podium came in the second race in mid-December at Sepang (MAS), courtesy of another third place. After a break, the season resumed at Le Mans (FRA) at the end of August. Shortly before the finish, the team crashed out whilst running fifth. Seventh place at the finale in Estoril means the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team ends its debut season in sixth place overall.
Marc Bongers – BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director
“It is obviously disappointing at first, when you suffer such a set-back whilst leading the race. We had our sights set on a top finish and saw that we had the potential to achieve that. However, these things happen in racing. Neither the team nor the riders buried their heads in the sand after that incident. Instead, they battled and gave it their all right through to the finish. Although we did not get the result we were after at the finale, you have to look at the big picture. It was our first season in FIM EWC, with its very strong field, and we had little preparation time before our first outing at the Bol d’Or one year ago. We have twice finished on the podium in this season’s four races, and were extremely competitive at the other two events. In addition, we were able to prove the reliability of our RR at the Le Mans 24-hour race as well as at the 12-hour race at Estoril, even if we lost strong positions there due to riding mistakes. That is overall not a bad record for us as ‘rookies’. The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team and the BMW S 1000 RR have established themselves among the best in the world at the first attempt. I would like to say a big thank you to Werner Daemen, Steven Casaer and the entire team for the hard and highly-professional work they have put in this season. We achieved a very high standard in our first year, which gives us an outstanding basis for our second season in FIM EWC. Congratulations to our tyre partner Dunlop who won the title with SERT. We will start a new attempt to fight for the title in the coming season.”
Two high profile-teams were forced to retire due to crashes: ERC Endurance (Ducati) dropped out in the very first hour while Bolliger Team Switzerland (Kawasaki) retired in the fourth hour. National Motos dropped out of the rankings a little over 6 hours into the race following an engine issue. The privateer Honda fielded by the eponymous Paris dealership had been running a fine race in the Top 15 with only two riders, Stéphane Egea and Guillaume Antiga.
Hanspeter Bolliger was awarded the Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy to honour his 38-year passion for endurance racing and the final race of his career at Estoril.
The Japanese-backed F.C.C. TSR Honda France team have clinched victory at Le Mans, ahead of Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar and Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, with SERT continuing to lead the championship standings with a 40-point lead.
Three different constructors and three different tyre manufacturers stood on the 2020 24 Heures Motos podium. Bridgestone-shod F.C.C. TSR Honda France notched up their second win at Le Mans with riders Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Mike di Meglio.
At the end of the first eight hours of the 43rd edition of the 24 Heures Motos, F.C.C. TSR Honda France were still holding on to first place and scored the 10 bonus points awarded after the first third of the race. The team spent the whole night at the front of the pack, maintaining the lead over their rivals, to collect a further 10-point bonus at the end of the 16th hour. During the night, Di Meglio even set the race lap record with 1’36.985. The trio of riders did not make any mistakes during this picture-perfect race and eventually crossed the line taking the chequered flag to win the 24-hour race.
Making their first outing on the track using Michelin tyres, Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar defended their second place to the last thanks to Jérémy Guarnoni, Erwan Nigon and David Checa. They finished one lap ahead of Dunlop-shod Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Etienne Masson, Gregg Black and Xavier Simeon), who held second on hour four, before settling into third overnight.
Unfortunately, two hours from the finish, Black was involved in a collision with a lapped rider and needed to come into the pits for a quick repair and after five minutes, the team – headed by Damien Saulnier – was back on track in third position; a position they held until the flag.
Following a crash early on in the race, YART Yamaha pushed hard to get back into the leading pack. Throughout the night, YART were the quickest team on track, taking advantage of the grip provided by the Bridgestone slicks in the cooler, dry conditions. Chasing down fourth position, Hanika powered through a wet Sunday morning before Canpea took over as the track dried out, closing the gap to BMW in fourth, catching and passing them with just over three hours to go.
YART’s podium chances were reignited with two hours remaining after a crash for the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, who were running second at the time. Despite the best efforts of the Czech rider, he couldn’t match the pace of the repaired Suzuki, who strapped on the dry tyres while Hanika was still on wets. YART Yamaha turned their attention to bringing the bike home in fourth, which they were able to successfully do. YART’s Karel Hanika, Marvin Fritz and Niccolò Canepa finished in fourth place, five laps behind the winners.
BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, solidly anchored in fifth place, lost their position after Ilya Mykhalchyk crashed at the tail end of the race. The factory BMW team were unable to cross the finish line and therefore not classified. The late-stage drama enabled F.C.C. TSR Honda France to shoot up to second place in the provisional championship standings.
It also benefited VRD Igol Pierret Experiences, who inherited fifth place, ahead of 3ART Best of Bike and Polish team Wójcik Racing Team, which included Australian Broc Parkes alongside Gino Rea and Axel Maurin – who became winners of the EWC Dunlop Independent Trophy.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team now leads the standings from F.C.C. TSR Honda France, with Yamalube Yamaha EWC Official Team by YART third overall.
As a result of the fickle weather and constantly changing track conditions, the teams were under pressure for the entire 24 hours of this year’s race. Stray showers in the final stages of the race forced the teams into some chancy tyre strategy.
The race also threw the FIM Endurance Championship open. Five of the six factory teams are grouped together at the top of the provisional standings with less than a month to go for the final, which will play out on Saturday 26 September at the 12 Hours of Estoril in Portugal.
Ducati is missing from that group, despite some great performances by Team ERC Endurance all weekend long. The German team did their utmost to stay within striking reach of the leading pack at Le Mans. But they ran into a number of problems, running out of fuel, crashing more than once and experiencing technical issues, ultimately withdrawing at the end of the night with an electrical problem.
A BMW team won for the first time this season by dint of running a flawless race in the Superstock class with riders Stefan Kerschbaumer, Lucy Glöckner and Toni Finsterbusch. GERT56 by GS Yuasa’s win ahead of No Limits Motor Team and Moto Ain also throws open the FIM Superstock World Cup. Moto Ain, who finished on the podium despite multiple crashes, still top the provisional standings, but the points gaps are narrower on the eve of the final at Estoril.
Two other teams in this category lost their chance at the overall win. BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers and Wójcik Racing Team withdrew after several crashes.
The only Aprilia-mounted team, local squad and 24 Heures Motos regular Aprilia Le Mans 2 Roues, were given the Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy. After Nelson Major crashed, Eddy Dupuy and Marco Boué pushed on throughout the night as a two-man team to keep Aprilia in the race. The Aprilia #15 crossed the finish line in 27th place with Nelson Major making a comeback to take the pressure off his teammates. Their combative spirit won them the trophy launched in memory of Anthony Delhalle.
Josh Hook – F.C.C. TSR Honda France – P1
“It was an unbelievable race! We headed in this weekend with the new bike, the team had only few months to prepare it and we arrived here and got the job done. The new Honda Fireblade SP is amazing, straight out of the box it’s already competitive and surprised us all, riders and team, because we went faster on that bike than on any other bike directly. We kept on improving the bike and we arrived in Le Mans with a bike that was able to win the race, and we knew that from the start. A massive thank you to the team and our partners that worked so hard to get this new bike up and running. They deserve this victory and I’m happy that Freddy, Mike and myself were able to do it!”
Freddy Foray – F.C.C. TSR Honda France
“When you look back, you realise that the Fireblade made its first steps and won the race today. I just want to say a big thank you to this team for achieving an incredible performance because at the start of the week we didn’t know what to expect from a bike that started from scratch. Sharing this with the team and my teammates is fantastic too. I would like to congratulate Mike for riding really well and also Josh who was injured and made it through to the end. This is the second win we’ve shared here with the team and it’s great. A few weeks ago we didn’t even know if it would be possible to race because of the sanitary situation and today we are in Le Mans and we won the race, it’s just magic!”
Mike Di Meglio – F.C.C. TSR Honda France
“It was a crazy race! Right from the start I thought that the race pace would be much faster, and as we were starting from a new machine I was ready to accept to let my rivals go. I made a good start and I was second behind Gregg Black, who I quickly overtook at the end of the first lap, and then I started to ride with my own pace. I was quite surprised to see that I was able to build up a gap so I calmed things down a bit during the first stint. When a few competitors started to make mistakes with the tricky conditions, we chose to stay focused on our pace. Then during the night, I started to understand how the bike worked and to have fun with it, and I set quite good lap times. The team did a really fantastic job on the new Fireblade SP, we trained as much as we could during the whole Covid period and we won in the end, that’s great.”
Damien Saulnier (Team Manager) – Suzuki Endurance Racing Team – P3
“For sure, we are always aiming for victory but after this very complicated race, with changing weather conditions and many twists and turns, I’m really satisfied with this third place, especially since it’s a great deal for us in the championship. We are still leading the championship but it’s not over yet. There is still one race left and in Endurance you never know what can happen until you cross the finish line! Once again, I would like to thank all the technical staff and the riders for the great work they did. I am very proud of them. I would also like to thank the ACO and Eurosport Events for the organisation of this event in a complex sanitary context. And last but not least, a big thank you to our sponsors for their strong support despite the difficult year that we have all experienced.”
Karel Hanika – YART Yamaha EWC Official Team – P4
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow. We were, of course, aiming to be higher in the standings. I’m very sorry for the crash in my first stint. I felt good on the bike, and when the rain came, I didn’t feel like I was pushing, but when I arrived at the corner, there was more water than I expected and slipped off breaking the handlebar. We lost a lot of time, but from there we did our best, each rider was strong and the team did a great job. We were the fastest on the track, we could do 1:37s, but in the end, we did well to come back to P4 – not the podium we were hoping four but got good points. We are still able to fight for the championship in Estoril, but it’s tough to go to Portugal with no trophy here in Le Mans. I want to thank the team for standing by me, it’s my first crash in an Endurance race, but we all stuck together and did our best to recover. Bridgestone supported us a lot, Yamaha has made a great bike, so I thank everyone in our team, and we can bounce back stronger in Estoril.”
Broc Parkes – Wójcik Racing Team – P7
“We got it! Team 77 after 793 laps finish the legendary 24 Heures Motos race in a great seventh place! We also won the Dunlop Trophy. Unfortunately, after 14 hours of the competition due to the failure, the Polish National Team fell off 🇵🇱 777, but the boys also showed an amazing class. Thank you! See you in four weeks in Estoril at the FIM EWC final.”
YART Yamaha picked up pole position ahead of BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team and Suzuki Endurance Racing Team. In Superstock, Team 33 Coyote Louit Moto beat Moto Ain by a whisker to the best starting position.
YART Yamaha claimed pole position thanks to a very consistent team. All three riders – Karel Hanika, Marvin Fritz and Niccolò Canepa – came in under the 1:37 mark on a lap of the Bugatti circuit. The Austrian factory Yamaha has dominated the proceedings at Le Mans since yesterday, and will start the 24 Heures Motos from pole at midday on Saturday.
That said, the day’s best performance can be chalked up, not to YART Yamaha, but to BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team. Markus Reiterberger posted the fastest qualifying lap, a 1:36.164. The BMW factory team (Kenny Foray, Ilya Mikhalchik and Markus Reiterberger) will take second position on the grid.
The leader of the provisional standings, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Etienne Masson, Gregg Black and Xavier Simeon), will start from 3rd just ahead of F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Mike di Meglio.
It could be a tricky race for the Japanese Honda team, as Josh Hook was injured during practice but is expected to be allowed to race. The Honda #5 is ahead of ERC Endurance’s factory Ducati in the hands of Randy de Puniet, Julien da Costa and Louis Rossi.
VRD Igol Pierret Experiences once again managed to slip in among the favourites. In the saddle of the Yamaha #333, Florian Alt, Florian Marino and Mathieu Gines will start from 6th place on the grid ahead of reigning champions Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar. The Kawasaki squad are without their team manager Gilles Stafler, currently recovering after a heart attack, and still getting to grips with their new Michelin tyres.
Three ambitious teams make up the rest of the Top 10 after qualifying: Tati Team Beaujolais Racing, Wójcik Racing Team and National Motos. Australian Broc Parkes is part of the Wójcik Racing Team and reported that he was caught up in traffic while looking to set a time on soft tyres and will start from ninth on the grid.
Team 33 Coyote Louit Moto (Kawasaki), the fastest Superstock team, will start from 11th place ahead of Moto Ain (Yamaha), the provisional leader in class, and GERT56 by GS Yuasa (BMW).
The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team will receive support from a big name in the BMW Motorrad Motorsport family at the “24 Heures Motos” in Le Mans (FRA). Peter Hickman (GBR) will be the fourth rider for the #37 BMW S 1000 RR in Le Mans. He joins the team and its three regular riders Kenny Foray (FRA), Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR) and Markus Reiterberger (GER) at short notice.
“I’m really excited to be part of the official BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team this weekend in Le Mans”, said Hickman. “The team is fighting for the world championship and I am privileged to have been asked to contribute to the team. I have raced at three Le Mans 24-hour races before and have also raced at Slovakia, Suzuka and Qatar. So I’m not new to endurance and have always enjoyed the experience. I can’t wait to get out on the bike!”
Hickman and BMW Motorrad Motorsport have enjoyed success together for many years. The 33-year-old has won four races at the Isle of Man TT on the BMW S 1000 RR and has also won the Macau Grand Prix on three occasions.
The Englishman has also enjoyed success on the racetrack with his regular team, Smiths Racing. In the British Superbike Championship (BSB), he has secured one of the six coveted places in the “Showdown” for the title in each of the past three years. He also rode for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team at Donington Park (GBR) in the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) in 2019.
Marc Bongers – BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director
“After the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team’s successful start to its debut season, we have had to wait a very long time to finally go racing again. However, we have used the break to continue to develop the endurance version of our RR. The tests in July at Le Mans were very positive. We are well-equipped and can hardly wait to take on the challenge that is the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Anything can happen in endurance racing, so it is difficult to make any predictions before the race. However, we have done our homework and are looking to build on what we achieved at Le Castellet and Sepang.”
The 2020 24 Heures Motos will be flagged off at 12pm this Saturday on the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans. Despite the absence of spectators, the teams are all set to race what is the third round of a 2019-2020 FIM Endurance World Championship thrown into utter disarray by the global health crisis. The race will be held closed doors for the first time since 1978, with all participants and organizing staff following strict hygiene precautions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The stakes will be even higher at the 2020 24 Heures Motos following the cancellation of the Bol d’Or and the Suzuka 8 Hours. The season finale will now play out in Portugal on 26 September at the 12 Heures d’Estoril for both the world championship title and the Superstock World Cup.
At the 24 Heures Motos, a maximum of 65 points are available for the win, with bonus points for pole position and for being in the lead 8 hours and 12 hours into the race.
At the 12 Heures d’Estoril, which as the championship final will now benefit from the bonus of 150 per cent of the points at the finish line, another 67.5 points will be available in total: the points for the win, for pole position and for the leader 8 hours into the race.
SERT GSX-R1000 riders Etienne Masson, Gregg Black and Xavier Simeon currently lead the series – recently revised from five to four rounds after the cancellation of the Suzuka 8 Hour Race in Japan.
There are a mere 15 points separating the top two teams in the provisional rankings, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team and BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team. The next two teams, Wójcik Racing Team and YART Yamaha, are 31 and 36 points respectively behind the leader. VRD Igol Pierret Experiences, who are 48 points behind, also have strong ambitions, as do some of the factory teams who were unlucky in the early part of the season. Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar are 49 points from the leader and F.C.C. TSR Honda France with Aussie Josh Hook are 54 points behind, while Team ERC Endurance have to make up a 67-point gap to take their Ducati Panigale to the top of the standings.
Thanks to their victory last time out, Mandy Kainz’s Yamaha team return to France for the latest round of the 2020 EWC championship lying fourth in the overall classification, just behind fellow Yamaha squad, Wojcik Racing. The team will be aiming to take more points at this weekend’s event; the YART Yamaha team has had previous success at the 2.6-mile French circuit, standing on the top step in 2009 and has claimed a further four podium finishes.
The team will field their highly experienced line-up with the first Italian FIM EWC Champion and 2017 Le Mans 24 hour winner, Niccoló Canepa, partnered with 2016 IDM Superbike Champion and previous Endurance race-winner Marvin Fritz, and former Red Bull Rookies and European Moto3 champion, Karel Hanika, who will make his first proper start with the YART Yamaha YZF-R1 at the renowned 24-hour event.
Mandy Kainz – Team Manager – YART
“For us it is going to be quite a strange race, racing in front of empty grandstands for 24 hours, but it is what it is and we’re more than ready despite not having as much pre-event testing as normal. The biggest challenge will be for our riders because, in such a long Endurance race, you’re always chasing motivation to continue, and a lot of that comes from the fans. Still, our riders are very professional and will be able to give it their all. For Le Mans, we aim to return to the championship and pick up good points to put us in the title fight at the finale in Estoril. It is a must to finish the 24-hour event if we want to be within a chance of the title in this strange year. I know we can do a good job because we have an amazing package; the bike, the Bridgestone tyres and our riders are all very strong, so I know we can do a good race.”
The Wojcik Racing Team come into Le Mans looking to fight back from a non-finish in Sepang. The team will once again run British Superbike rider, Gino Rea, Frenchman Axel Maurin, Australian Broc Parkes and Polish rider Maceli Bezulski. The polish-based Yamaha team are determined to fight for the podium to keep themselves within a title chance come the season finale in Portugal.
The Moto Ain Yamaha World Cup Supported Team’s trio of riders, Roby Rolfo, Robin Mulhauser and Hugo Clere will be looking to protect their lead in the Independent team and FIM World Cup standings. They currently lead the independent championship by 14 points over Wojcik Racing Team, in a Yamaha top-five lockout.
Completed in 1966, the famous 4.185km Bugatti circuit located in north-western France has seen various changes to the course. The current layout has been in use since 2008 and provides spectacular racing. Its high and low-speed corners mixed with heavy braking zones, fast changes of direction and unpredictable weather are what makes Le Mans and the 24 Heures Motos one of the most challenging and rewarding events on the calendar.
Without the possibility of hosting spectators, the Bol d’Or 2020 will not take place. The local authority, Prefecture of Var has just withdrawn permission to welcome public to the race, scheduled for September 19-20. A new event, the 12 Hours of Estoril in Portugal, will take place on September 27 in its place.
The Bol d’Or2020, the proposed finale of the current FIM EWC season, was supposed to host Endurance fans at Le Castellet in the south of France on 19-20 September.
Following the strengthening of restrictions to stop Covid-19 in France, the local authority, Prefecture of Var, has withdrawn the authorisation to welcome spectators to the event. This decision has forced Editions Larivière, the race organiser, to cancel the Bol d’Or 2020.
The 2019-2020 FIM EWC Finale will instead take place in Portugal on the Estoril circuit on 27 September.
A 12-hour race is scheduled on this international circuit near Lisbon. It will close a sporting season particularly disrupted by the global health crisis. As the FIM EWC season final event, this 12-hour race will benefit from the bonus of 150% of the points in both EWC and Superstock categories, as well as intermediate points in the standings after eight hours of racing. The 4.182km Estoril circuit has hosted MotoGP and FIM Superbike World Championship events previously. Before this final event in Portugal, FIM EWC teams will race at Le Mans for the 24 Hours Motos on 29-30 August.
François Ribeiro – Head of Eurosport Events
“We support the decision of Editions Larivière to cancel the Bol d’Or 2020 within the context of stricter restrictions related to the health situation in France. We will return to this great event in September 2021. In order to protect the interests of the championship and teams, we have made every effort to replace this final race. We are pleased to announce and offer a new battle between teams at the Estoril circuit to close the 2019-2020 season.”
As a result of stronger restrictions on entry in Japan, international teams and riders will not be able to travel to Suzuka. In agreement with FIM and Eurosport Events, the promoter of FIM Endurance World Championship, the Suzuka 8 Hours organiser Mobilityland has decided to cancel the 2020 edition.
Rescheduled to 1 November due to the global health crisis, the 43rd edition of the Suzuka 8Hours will not take place in 2020. It is the first-ever cancellation since the creation of the race in 1978.
KRT Team manager – Guim Roda
“We had an indication that the cancellation was going to happen and the news has become official today. KHI had big expectations running in the 2020 Suzuka 8 hours, to give the fans an extraordinary show again. With the responsibility to defend the win we achieved last year we planned an incredible project with Rea and Lowes, and with the support of Xavi Fores to attack the 8 Hours as strongly as possible. Everything was already planned, but unfortunately the outside realities and safety requirements around Covid-19 ended all our plans. We understand the wider situation. The direction of the Japanese Government, which is the same as many around the world, makes it difficult to organize the event with so many foreigners attending the 8 Hours race. This is the case for many teams, but especially the factory ones that build their projects in coordination with WorldSBK riders and staff. We hope everything goes back to a more normal situation soon and the Suzuka 8 Hours comes back even stronger. We in KRT are ready to attend KHI’s request to defend the title in future if needed.”
The Covid-19 pandemic remains a source of concern in Japan, and the government has decided not to lift its entry ban on international arrivals, even for business travellers. International riders and permanent teams have always been an integral part of the action at the Suzuka 8 Hours, which has become the grand finale of the FIM Endurance World Championship. In their absence, the grand finale would be a domestic race. As a result, Mobilityland has decided to cancel the 2020 edition.
Kaoru Tanaka – Director of Mobilityland Corporation
“We had been preparing for the “Coca-Cola” Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race to be held on November 1st together with all of the fans and stakeholders involved in this race event but, with anguish, we find no alternative but to make the decision to cancel it in consideration of the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Japan and overseas and the fact that there is no prospect of deregulation of immigration restrictions on visitors from abroad at this stage in Japan. Once again, we extend our apologies and regrets to all the fans who were looking forward to attending the Suzuka 8 Hours, which had been postponed from the originally scheduled date in July to November. We also extend our sincere regrets to all of the other stakeholders involved in this race event and we ask for everyone’s kind understanding and cooperation going forward. In closing, let us say that we are determined to make preparations so that the 2021 Suzuka 8 Hours event will be even more enjoyable for the fans than ever before.”
François Ribeiro- Head of Eurosport Events
“We have been working hard with Mobilityland to reschedule the race from July to November – a first since 1978 – and then to organise entry into Japan for international teams and riders with a special business visa. Our hopes have evaporated with immigration restrictions for foreigners. The cancellation of the 2020 Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours is not a question of spectators’ access. The decision was made not to run this iconic race as a domestic event. The Suzuka 8 Hours, the most prestigious endurance race in the world over the last 40 years, shall not run without top international riders.”
The 2020 Suzuka 8 Hours initially scheduled to be held on 19 July 2020 has been pushed back to a new date: Sunday 1 November.
Kaoru Tanaka, President of Mobilityland Corporation
“We had been preparing for the ‘Coca-Cola’ Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race to be held in July, but have decided to postpone it in consideration of the current situation in which there is prohibition of large-scale events that attract large numbers of people and restriction of travel is expected to continue to increase in European countries. We ask for the kind understanding of all the fans who were looking forward to attending the Suzuka 8 Hours for this unavoidable postponement and of all the other stakeholders involved in this race event. We will make due preparations so that we can welcome the start of the event on November 1st together with all the fans and stakeholders involved in this event.”
With border entry restrictions currently in effect in Japan making it impossible for Suzuka to host teams and riders from countries affected by coronavirus, the race has been postponed to later in the year.
Historically held in summer, ever since the first edition in 1978, the Suzuka 8 Hours will take place for the very first time in Autumn in 2020. In close collaboration with race organizer Mobilityland, the iconic Japanese race was promoted to the status of FIM EWC grand finale in 2017.
Jorge Viegas, FIM President
“Who would have ever imagined that the 8 Hours of Suzuka would have to be postponed just a few weeks ago? However, we must keep strong and do whatever is in our power to return to racing, as soon as possible, without taking any unnecessary risks. I am sure that the faithful spectators of Suzuka will enjoy a great show again and that this iconic race will retain its special place in the FIM Endurance World Championship. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the efforts of the Japanese Motorcycling Federation (MFJ), Mobilityland Corporation and of course Eurosport Events!”
As the FIM EWC season final event, the 8-hour race will benefit from the bonus of 150% of the points.
Updated 2020 FIM EWC Calendar
The FIM, Eurosport Events and the various race organizers have together restructured the ongoing season calendar to ensure the number of races initially scheduled in the championship take place. The 2019-2020 season will therefore continue with the 24 Heures Motos (29 and 30 August 2020) followed by the Bol d’Or (19 and 20 September), and conclude with the FIM EWC grand finale at Suzuka on 1 November.
François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events
“The global health crisis, the logistical constraints resulting from Japan’s entry restrictions and our priority to protect the health of everyone involved in the FIM EWC, have made it necessary to postpone the Suzuka 8 Hours. Praise is due to Mobilityland for adapting the Suzuka calendar to ensure that this major race in the championship remains Japan’s biggest celebration for motorcycling fans. To help teams with their logistics requirements in the opening phase of the 2020-2021 FIM EWC season, we will push back the date of the 8 Hours of Sepang to January if necessary, just ahead of the customary SBK/GP pre- tests on the circuit.”
FCC TSR Honda France at the 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour Source: MCNews.com.au
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