2023 FIM Endurance World Championship season finale Bol d’Or in France

2023 Yamaha XSR900

YART Yamaha Set for EWC Title Showdown at Bol d’Or
The Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team are primed and ready for an epic title showdown at the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship season finale, the Bol d’Or in France, on the 14th-17th of September.
The YART Yamaha team of Karel Hanika, Niccolò Canepa, Marvin Fritz, and reserve rider Robin Mulhauser head into the final round on their Bridgestone-shod R1 trailing the championship leaders by just 13 points, knowing that a strong result could see them lift the Endurance World Championship (EWC) crown for the first time since 2009.
The 86th edition of the historic Bol d’Or 24-hour race, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2022, will again decide the outcome of the EWC, with all five titles on the line at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet.
Due to the unique way points are awarded in the EWC, there are a maximum of 85 points up for grabs at the season’s last race: five in qualifying, 60 for the race winners, plus ten more for the leaders at the eight and 16-hour marks. This means there is all still to play for in the title chase, with six teams in with a chance of mathematically being crowned champions.
The 2023 season has seen the Austrian squad secure a superb second at the opening round in Le Mans before winning their first 24-hour race for 14 years when they took a spectacular victory at the 24H SPA EWC Motos.
This meant they led the EWC standings heading into the Suzuka 8 Hours, but after looking on course for a historic podium in Japan that would have seen them extend their championship lead, the team were hit by an electrical issue that dropped them down to 43rd before they mounted a sensational fightback to finish 22nd overall, and 18th in class. The incredible determination they showed in not giving up and fighting right to the finish line saw them limit the damage to their championship aspirations and secure what could prove to be three vital points.
YART Yamaha were in a similar position at the 2022 Bol d’Or, where they went into the weekend third overall, trailing the championship leaders by 33 points. During a dramatic race, several retirements amongst their rivals saw them manage to take the lead, and they were on course to lift the title before a technical issue after 3 hours meant they suffered heartbreak and were forced to retire.
Once again, the team arrives in France trailing the championship leaders, but in 2023, they have just one goal: attack. They also have good form at the Bol d’Or after finishing second during the 2018-2019 event and securing another four podiums at the iconic race.
On top of this, Canepa has tasted victory at the circuit before, with the 35-year-old winning the Bol d’Or in 2017 on his way to the title with the GMT 94 Yamaha squad, and the team is confident that they have the pace to fight for the championship, especially after a successful test at the track on Tuesday.
The historic Bol d’Or was first hosted on a 5km circuit of dirt roads around Vaujours near Paris in 1922 and moved to its current home in Le Castellet for the first time in 1978. It remained at the Cote d’Azur circuit until 2000, when it switched to Magny-Cours, before returning full-time to Circuit Paul Ricard in 2015, with this season’s race the 30th time the event has been held at the track.
The 5.673km circuit is the third longest on the EWC calendar. It represents a real challenge for teams regarding setup due to several fast, flowing corners and slower technical sections, along with the engine-destroying 1.8km Mistral Straight that sees bikes running at over 300kph for over 20 seconds each lap.
As always, endurance racing is about finding the perfect balance of top speed, reliability, fuel economy, and rideability. However, this becomes even more crucial at a track like Circuit Paul Ricard. With this in mind, the YART team is confident they have found a good compromise, although the unpredictable weather that has featured in the past at Le Castellet could play a part, with rain currently forecast for Saturday.
Making their EWC debut in 2023, the Belgian-based KM Motos team are currently 10th overall in the standings with 27 points but have shown a lot more potential than their position suggests, so Bastien Mackels, Florian Marino, and Lucas Mahias will be looking to end the team’s rookie season on a high.
After finishing second at the 2022 Bol d’Or, Wojcik Racing Team EWC 77’s Sheridan Morais, Mathieu Gines, and Isaac Vinales have had a much trickier season in 2023, with the team only picking up points at Le Mans. They are one of a number of full-time EWC teams that missed out on the Suzuka 8 Hours and, along with Maco Racing Team’s Enzo Boulom, Balint Kovacs, and Martin Vugrinec, plus Moto Ain Yamaha EWC Supported Team’s Corentin Perolari, Roberto Tamburini, and Alessandro Polita, they will be looking to finish the year as strongly as possible.
It is not just the EWC title up for grabs in France, as the FIM Endurance World Cup sees ten teams still in the hunt for the crown, with 3ART Best of Bike’s Martin Renaudin, Ludovic Cauchi, and Alex Plancassagne leading the chase for Yamaha. The team is sixth in the overall standings with 53 points, just 32 behind the leaders.
The action at Circuit Paul Ricard kicks off on Thursday with a two-hour Free Practice session at 14:30 local time (UTC+2) and the first qualifying sessions for each rider starting at 17:30 before a one-hour night practice session at 20:30. Qualifying resumes on Friday morning at 9:00, with the 24-hour race getting underway on Saturday at 15:00.
Karel Hanika
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team
“I am looking forward to the last race of the season. We are in a good position to fight for the championship, so we have only one goal: to score as many points as possible during qualifying and the race. Finding the right setup balance with the bike here at Circuit Paul Ricard is always tricky. We have a big advantage in the more technical first and third sectors, but we are losing some time on the Mistral Straight, but this is endurance racing, and it is all about finding the right compromise. We will have to push for the entire race; my teammates are always fast, so I look forward to getting started, and we will give our best to become champions.”
Niccolò Canepa
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team
“We are excited for the last race of the season. We know how tough it can be here at Circuit Paul Ricard, especially with the Mistral Straight. Top speed and horsepower can be critical, but as always in endurance, the most essential thing is to finish the race. We are second in the championship standings, but in some ways, this is good, as we know we can go out and attack. We will need to be perfect over the whole weekend to secure the most points in qualifying and then to try and win the race, but I think we have the potential to become champions.”
Marvin Fritz
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team
“We are here at the Bol d’Or for the season’s last race. It has been a good year for us, with the podium at Le Mans and the amazing victory at Spa. We had some bad luck at Suzuka, which was a shame as our pace was superb, but we fought back well to give us the best chance possible here. We are confident we have found a good setup here in France, although obviously, the level is very high. Every person in the team is focused and ready to do their best. Our goal is simple: secure pole position and lead the race from the beginning to the end. If we do this, we will be crowned champions. We have superb support from Yamaha; the team has worked so hard, plus the Bridgestone tyres have been superb, so we feel we are in a strong position.”
Robin Mulhauser
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team – Reserve Rider
“I am looking forward to the weekend. We had a good test on Tuesday, although finding the perfect setup at this circuit is tricky, especially with the Mistral Straight. We are very strong in the more technical sections of the track, but this means we lose something on the straight. As always, with endurance it is about finding the right compromise, and we are confident that we have the right balance of pace, reliability, fuel economy, and rideability. I have an excellent feeling about this weekend. We have prepared perfectly and will see the result on Sunday.”
Mandy Kainz
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team – Team Manager
“We are delighted to be here at the Bol d’Or; it always provides a great atmosphere. The track represents a unique challenge, so the team have worked hard during the test and all week to find the right setup for the R1, and we are confident that we have a good package going into the weekend. As always, it comes down to the balance, but we feel confident we have found a good solution for the race, and the Bridgestone tyres are working superbly. In some ways, trailing the championship leaders makes it easier for us, as we don’t have any option but to attack from the off and try and secure as many points as possible, starting in qualifying. Anything can happen in endurance racing, but all our riders have shown great pace, and the team has worked superbly, so we have given ourselves the best chance of being crowned champions.”
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