Incredible, but true: 24 Heures Motos du Mans record-setter (5 wins, as many as Alex Vieira) Gregory Leblanc has still no seat for the 2019 edition of the event, scheduled on 20th-21st April: despite a verbal agreement, the Frenchman has surprisingly been released by Honda Endurance Racing. “The White” won 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2016 24 Heures Motos editions with SRC Kawasaki and last year he finished second with Honda Endurance Racing Team.
LEBLANC – “For the first time in 10 years, I don’t know what I will do”. This is how Gregory Leblanc started a long post he shared on his Facebook page, a long series of phrases revealing his current situation. “Currently, while I’m writing this, I know that I’ll be watching the upcoming 24 Heures Motos edition on TV instead of being there. I’ve scored 5 wins, 2 second-place finishes, one third-place result and just 2 retirements, but today racing is not just about talent…”
WHO WILL REPLACE HIM? – Gregory Leblanc won’t contest the remaining 2018/2019 FIM EWC rounds with Honda Endurance Racing Team. Since Erwan Nigon has moved back to SRC Kawasaki, the #111 Fireblade machine will race 24 Heures Motos du Mans with Sebastien Gimbert and two former MotoGP and World Superbike riders (rumour mill says Randy De Puniet and Yonny Hernandez, but there are also other candidates). “Endurance was very underrated in the past, but now it’s become a destination for people who are “more prestigious” than us, but not necessarily faster“, wrote Leblanc. “It’s not positive at all, but no one is irreplaceable, including me, so we need to deal with it. Today, I’m frustrated for not being on the track“.
WHAT WILL LEBLANC DO? – Despite missing Suzuka 8 Hours due to injury, Leblanc helped Honda Endurance Racing Team finishing 2017/2018 FIM EWC season in third place, thanks to the podium-finishes scored at 2017 Bol d’Or (3rd) and 2018 24 Heures Motos du Mans (2nd). According to rumour mill, Leblanc has been cut off by the team following his last-minute crash at 2018 8 Hours of Oschersleben, but also due to a reorganisation inside the team. “I may come back to FSBK (French Superbike Championship, ed), but despite winning five titles from 2010 to 2015, I have nothing yet“, said Leblanc, before writing a thought shared by many other riders. “To me, motorcycle racing has always been a passion, rather than a job. I would like to have the same opinion in a few years…“
Translated by Alessandro Palma