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GMT94 Yamaha Kick-off New Season with Stunning Bol d’Or Victory

The GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team has made the best possible start to the 17/18 Endurance World Championship season, taking a determined victory in the first round today, the 81st Bol d’Or at the Circuit Paul Ricard in southern France. The YART Yamaha Official EWC Team also started the race strongly but were unable to make it through the night, a technical issue forcing retirement in the first hours of the 24hr endurance race.

The legendary Bol d’Or race always brings unexpected racing with challenges around. For GMT94 Yamaha’s David Checa, Mike Di Meglio and Niccolo Canepa this weekend’s race was no exception. Having started from sixth on the grid, the French team made several pushes to reach the front of the pack, each time falling victim to bad timing with the safety car, losing a valuable minute to be chased down again. Added to this a Stop and Go penalty given to Di Meglio for speeding in the pit lane and the team had their work cut out in the hunt for victory.

Despite the setbacks, GMT94 Yamaha were unstoppable, overcoming the incidents and safety car time losses to forge ahead time and time again, eventually bringing it home after an exhaustive 24hrs of racing a staggering 10 laps clear at the front of the pack to claim their first victory of the new season as defending world champions.

The YART Yamaha Official EWC Team of Broc Parkes, Marvin Fritz and Kohta Nozane were also challenged with their share of incidents. Having started from second on the grid, the team had made good progress as one of the front runners until young Japanese rider Nozane suffered a heavy crash a couple of hours into the race. He was able to ignore the pain, remount and bring the bike back to the pits, allowing his teammates to rally and head back out. Unfortunately a recurring technical issue left the riders without many essential electronic systems on the bike. After considerable effort to fix the issue, Team Manager Mandy Kainz chose to retire from the race to avoid risking any injury to the riders in what would have been dangerous riding conditions.

GMT94 Yamaha sign off the first round of the new season leading the standings with the maximum 60 points, YART Yamaha leave with 0, determined to turn their fortunes around at the next round in Le Mans early in 2018.

David Checa

GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team

“For me, every victory is special, it is sharing. We have often experienced problems and bad luck, but here everything has worked wonderfully. For the first race of the 2017/2018 season we make a full card with the 60 possible points, between those granted for the victory and those given during the passages at 8 and 16 hours of racing. It is the result of a lot of work. We have never given up on any circumstances!”

Niccolò Canepa

GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team

“We did not let go, we gave 110% and in the end it paid off and we won. Last year was a great year, and the bike continues to be better at each race. My teammates are still very fast, we had an incredible season and I am really happy to keep it this way!”

Mike Di Meglio

GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team

“We knew that in coming here you had to score big points. We had to stay focused. It was a fantastic race, we gave everything from start to finish, first to get points every 8 hours then for victory. It was very hard during the night and it was really a sharing between the three riders and the team.”

Christophe Guyot

GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team Manager

“I’m so happy because we are leading the championship. We are always motivated, but this result is beautiful, now we enter the winter preparing for next year at Le Mans and will arrive there as the top team. For the confidence of the riders and the team this is fantastic and we know we are already prepared with a very strong bike. We had some difficulties in the race; it was very hard. We took the lead after two hours of racing, and then we fought with Suzuki. They were 11 seconds in front, but the pace car between us lost us half a lap, or one minute so we had to fight to come back. After we came back, another pace car, and we had to refuel during that pace car, so lost another half lap or one minute! then another pace car! Also losing half a lap. Then Mike Di Meglio made a mistake for a Stop and Go penalty, for going too fast into the pits. Altogether we lost three laps! So altogether we must have been three laps faster than everyone else to get back to the front. I’m very proud of my riders, bike and team. Thank you Yamaha!”

Broc Parkes

“Of course it is disappointing to come away not having finished the race, but Endurance racing is like this, it is always unexpected. I felt really good going in to the race, the bike is really fast, my teammates are on good form and the team is working well so we had everything in place to be a serious challenger at the front for the podium. Unfortunately Kohta crashed, but he was able to get up and bring the bike back, I’m glad he was ok. We had electronic issues come on and off making it almost impossible to ride consistently quickly without being very dangerous so it was the right decision to retire. We’ll be back in Le Mans and fighting at the front!”

Mandy Kainz

YART Yamaha Official EWC Team Manager

“It was an incredible race, a shame for our bad luck. We were well prepared, and fast enough to fight for the victory. We can’t look back so we will look forward and be the team to beat in Le Mans! I’m happy Kohta is ok as his crash was big and he wasn’t able to continue afterwards, leaving us with two riders. Crashes do happen, but unfortunately with just two riders and a recurring issue with electronics I didn’t want to send out the guys without guaranteeing their safety. I think we had the pace but my decision is safety first. We will pick ourselves up, look forward and begin preparing to be ready for the challenge of 2018. Both Broc and Marvin did their best with the difficult situation, I am proud of the efforts of the riders, and of the team as always.”

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