Round 01 France

  • Reigning Champion F.C.C. TSR Honda France Starts EWC Season with a Win at Bol d’Or 24 Hours

    Reigning world champion F.C.C. TSR Honda France kicked off the 2018-2019 FIM Endurance World Championship season with a win at the season-opening Bol d’Or 24-hour endurance race in France.


Report

Reigning Champion F.C.C. TSR Honda France Starts EWC Season with a Win at Bol d’Or 24 Hours

France, September 15-16, 2018

Reigning world champion F.C.C. TSR Honda France (#1) kicked off the 2018-2019 FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) season with a win at the season-opening Bol d’Or 24-hour endurance race in France. Mike Di Meglio joined the team riders from last season, Freddy Foray and Josh Hook. For Honda Endurance Racing (#111), overall third last season, last year’s riders Sebastien Gimbert and Gregory LeBlanc were joined by Erwan Nigon.

With no tire restrictions and a new rule awarding points for the top five grid positions, qualifying for this year’s Bol d’Or was intense, with time attacks rewriting the fastest lap until the very last session.

All three F.C.C. TSR Honda France beat their personal best lap times in the final qualifying session, securing 2nd on the grid. Honda Endurance Racing was starting 6th, less than 1 second adrift from the pace setter.

The 24-hour race started at 3:00 pm, on Saturday, September 15. Josh Hook remained composed throughout the heated opening stint, handing his F.C.C. TSR Honda France bike to Foray in 2nd place. The safety car was on the track during this stint, and by the time Foray switched places with Di Maglio, compressed the field had given them the lead.

#1 F.C.C. TSR Honda France

The fight for the lead was long and intense, with the race leader seemingly changing with each pit stop. A crash, oil spill and then a multi-bike incident brought in the safety car for the second time, setting the stage for a four-way battle between F.C.C. TSR Honda France, Honda Endurance Racing and two other teams. F.C.C. TSR Honda France was forced into the pits with mechanical problems, and despite frantic team crew efforts, were set back to 18th place after 10 minutes of repairs.

At the 8 hour mark, Honda Endurance Racing had moved up to 2nd. F.C.C. TSR Honda France had recovered up to 10th place.

Honda Endurance Racing maintained a solid pace, and an hour later led the race by 43 seconds. Gimbert brought his bike in for an unscheduled stop at 1:08 am, and the team worked frantically to repair a broken cylinder head bolt. After 6 hours and 20 minutes, LeBlanc was finally back on the track, but after the end of his scheduled stint and Nigon in charge, the bike once again started losing power, forcing the team to retire after a total of 330 laps.

F.C.C. TSR Honda France persevered, steadily gaining places throughout the night, and with a bit of luck with other teams having their own problems, was back in the lead at the 21 hour mark. The team successfully kept the competition at bay, but with the safety car on the track again with only 30 minutes left, the finale was anything but comfortable. F.C.C. TSR Honda France nonetheless defended the lead, and crossed the finish line victorious.

The Bol d’Or win gave F.C.C. TSR Honda France its second consecutive 24-hour race win following Le Mans last year. With three EWC wins, the team aiming to defend its championship title was off to an astounding start to the season.

The next race, the 24 Heures Motos in Le Mans, France, is set for April 20-21 next year.

#111 Honda Endurance Racing

Comments

#1 F.C.C. TSR Honda France

#1 F.C.C. TSR Honda France

Masakazu Fujii | #1 F.C.C. TSR Honda France Manager (Winner)
“It was a miracle. I wasn’t sure what would happen as there was little time since testing, but we managed to finish the season-opener in the best possible way with a win. I’m proud to be able to bring everyone the good news. As I always say, every endurance team races knowing that they have to stay in it to be able to win. Once you give up, that’s the end. I think that makes us a tough, stubborn endurance team.”

Josh Hook | #1 F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Winner)
“Today, luck was on our side, because nearly every top team had some kind of problem. We had our problems early in the race, giving us time to recover positions. We didn’t have an especially strong goal today, but we raced naturally, so the results are better than great. I’d like to thank the team who did a really great job in testing to get us here, and my teammates. The new season is already looking good.”

Freddy Foray | #1 F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Winner)
“There wasn’t much time since we became champions at the Suzuka 8 Hours race, so I was a bit agitated. But now, we managed to win, and everything seems better. Winning at Bol d’Or is amazing, and we’ve already won at Le Mans this year (last season). Performance is important in endurance racing, but finding the right opportunity while out on the track for a long time, and taking advantage of it, are just as vital. F.C.C. TSR Honda France was given that chance at Bol d’Or.”

Mike Di Meglio | #1 F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Winner)
“There were many problems since testing as the team was new, the bike was new, and the tires were new. I really had to test and learn a different riding style from scratch. Still, I have known TSR since my grand prix days, and worked with Omori (Chief Engineer) in Moto2, so I could trust them and concentrate on racing. I gained more confidence with each stint, and we managed to win, so that’s amazing.”

Sébastien Gimbert | #111 Honda Endurance Racing
Today has been difficult, firstly it wasn’t so bad before midnight we were first and in a very good position; we had good strategy and good race pace. We continued to lead for some time but then we had a problem and I had to return to the pit. It turned into a big problem with the bolt, the mechanics worked so hard and we returned to the race this morning with Greg. He started well and then Erwan took over, but we started to have problems with the power and it was too much to continue, the Bol d’Or is very high speed and we cannot risk. My dream for sure is to win here and before the race I said it would be my last Bol, but now it is necessary to return next year!

Erwan Nigon | #111 Honda Endurance Racing
Every time it is bad when it is the end of the race and especially when you have been in first position, but you know this is racing and endurance isn’t easy! But we have good news as we performed well, we had good race pace and we were at the top for some time. We have a lot of information and have learnt a lot, the team were amazing and worked so hard to get us back out this morning, so I would like to thank them. Although we end early we do have a lot to be happy about and now we move on stronger.
 
Gregory LeBlanc | #111 Honda Endurance Racing
We have had a good and bad race, the good was that we were first after 11 hours and honestly I think and hope we could win! We had the level and speed on track, and we had a good advantage over second place with 40 seconds plus they had to stop, so we would have moved ahead further. Séb discovered the problem and the team worked for over six hours to get fixed, I restart and I rode for an hour and I felt some loss of power and Erwan also felt the same. We were down in 44th place after the time in the garage and it would have been very difficult to make many places up across the remainder of the race. But you know this is racing and it does happen, we were not the first team to experience a problem and we won’t be the last.

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Results

FIM Endurance World Championship 2018-2019
Round 1:Paul Ricard circuit – France

Bol d’Or

Rank Team(Rider)
1 F.C.C. TSR Honda France / Honda
2 YART - YAMAHA / Yamaha
3 WEPOL Racing / Yamaha
4 Bolliger Team Switzerland / Kawasaki
5 Suzuki Endurance Racing Team / Suzuki
6 Gert56 German Endurance Racing Team / BMW
16 Zuff Racing Team / Honda
18 National Motos / Honda
49 Honda Endurance Racing / Honda
55 Rac 41 Honda / Honda

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