24h Le Mans: Provisional pole for SRC Kawasaki

The first 24 Heures Moto Le Mans Qualifying Practice has confirmed that something has changed in Endurance. The increase in the quality of motorcycles and teams and the presence of more and more professional and fast riders have led to an exponential growth of the level of the field. As a result, the first Qualifying Practice saw many teams fighting for the provisional pole position with just few milliseconds separating them. After the calculation of the average time (resulting from the comparison of the best laptimes of each rider in every team), the provisional pole went to SRC Kawasaki, whose average laptime was 1’37″545 thanks to Randy De Puniet (1’37″181), Jeremy Guarnoni (1’37″529) and Mathieu Gines (1’37″925).

CONSISTENCY PAYS OFF – The session took place with high temperatures unusual for Circuit Bugatti in this time of the year (a little less than 30°, track temporature of almost 40°), the great consistency paid off to the team owned by Gilles Stafler. All the riders on the Ninja ZX-10RR #11, with Pirelli tyres, managed to go faster and do laps below 1’38”, in spite of not being the fastest in their own groups. Given the current regulation SRC Kawasaki, who won 5 out of the latest 8 editions of 24 Heures Moto, took the pole for just 58 milliseconds (!) in front of F.C.C. TSR Honda, in 2nd place with the “old” 2016-spec CBR 1000RR Fireblade ridden by Freddy Foray, Alan Techer and Josh Hook. Also the other teams are separated from the lead by small gaps: Tecmas BMW, in first place in the “blue” group with Julien Da Costa (1’37″013, the fastest rider of the day) and in the “red” one with David Perret (1’37″427), ranked in third place with one tenth and a half off SRC Kawasaki because of a not so fast lap by Camille Hedelin, but they anyway managed to be faster than YART Yamaha. The Austrian squad, directly supported by Yamaha Factory and Bridgestone, was the fastest in the “yellow” group with Marvin Fritz (1’37″043) and Broc Parkes was fast as well (1’37″124), but the new entry Takuya Fujita was a bit slower (1’39″360). He still has a lot of work to do, if he wants to fill the shoes of Kohta Nozane…

SIXTH PLACE FOR GMT94 YAMAHA – Among the other FIM EWC teams the renewed NRT48, the new reference BMW Motorrad Motorsport Team, grabbed the provisional 5th place with the BMW S1000RR #48 ridden by Kenny Foray (1’37″283), the BSB and Road Racing star Peter Hickman (1’38″265) and the fast lady Lucy Glockner (1’38″053), followed by the reigning Champion GMT94 Yamaha. The team who won last year’s 24H didn’t use any specific tyre for the “time attack”, as usual for Dunlop teams, and so Niccolò Canepa, David Checa and Mike Di Meglio (who crashed at Garage Vert) ranked 6th. No problem for Suzuki Endurance Racing Team: the GSX-R 1000 ridden by Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Gregg Black finished 7th with the returning  Dominique Meliand in the pits. More issues for Honda Endurance Racing, that ranked 8th after two crashes by Gregory Leblanc, while Penz13 was ninth with Christian Iddon (small crash for him), Michael Laverty and Danny Webb.

EXCITING BATTLE IN SUPERSTOCK – The amazing bagarre typical of EWC can be seen also in the Superstock class. The reigning Champions of Yamaha Viltais (that switched from Michelin to Dunlop) took the provisional pole especially thanks to Kevin Manfredi (who performed a lap in 1’38″021). 

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