Strong Performance from YART Yamaha Secures Podium at 24 Heures Motos

The 2024 FIM Endurance World Championship bursts into action next week when Le Mans hosts the EWC season opener – the 24 Heures Motos – at the famous Bugatti Circuit in France

Strong Performance from YART Yamaha Secures Podium at 24 Heures Motos
The Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team of Niccolò Canepa, Marvin Fritz, and Karel Hanika showed incredible pace during the opening round of the 2024 FIM Endurance World Championship, the 47th edition of the 24 Heures Motos, leading for the majority of the race before claiming third as they got their title defence off to a positive start.
Reigning champions YART Yamaha enjoyed the perfect build-up to the first race of the 2024 FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC), securing pole position, a new lap record thanks to a 1:34.708 from Canepa, and the maximum five points available during qualifying. All three riders topped their respective qualifying groups, and confidence was high ahead of the iconic running start at Le Mans on Saturday.
Canepa took the first stint, and when the flag dropped, he started well, dropping to fourth but battling his way to the front before the end of the third lap. The Italian held the lead until the first pit stop, handing over to teammate Fritz. An excellent stint from the German rider saw him pit to swap with Hanika from second, and by the time Canepa was back on the Bridgestone-shod YART #1 R1, he retook the lead with less than three hours of race time on the clock.
The trio held onto this lead for 15 hours, riding imperiously through the cold and windy conditions at night and extending their advantage at the front to five laps. In the process, they secured the maximum ten points on offer at the eight-hour mark.
The Austrian squads’ race pace was devastating, but just before the sun came up and the next allocation of points at 16 hours, misfortune struck. With the temperatures at their lowest and the humidity rising, the track conditions became treacherous, with dew forming on the asphalt. After the team had led the race for 450 laps, Hanika was caught out by the changing levels of grip, high-siding the bike from the lead and injuring his shoulder, ending the team’s domination of the race.
The Czech rider managed to restart the R1 and brought it back to the box, where the team pulled out all the stops to repair the damage in under 18 minutes, but they had lost between 10-11 laps and rejoined in fourth, five laps off the lead. Even though the bike was being repaired in the pits, YART gained another 9 points for being in second as the race clock struck 16 hours. Unfortunately, Hanika’s crash, while not serious, aggravated a previous shoulder injury, which meant he could not ride for the last eight hours of the race.
Canepa, who was not 100% himself after a crash in practice at the Daytona 200, went back-to-back with Fritz riding stints. Even though track temperatures were still low, Canepa was determined to get back into the podium fight and set the fastest lap of the race, a 1:35.791, during a stunning stint. The duo began to mount a superb fightback.
They battled right to the end, through the physical and mental pain barriers, moving into the podium positions with five and a half hours to go. They managed to maintain this impressive pace right to the chequered flag despite another extended pit stop to check that the bike had no lingering damage from the crash.
After this, Canepa and Fritz managed the workload between them and finished strongly to once again showcase the team’s impressive pace and secure third, five laps behind the winners after completing 852 laps, meaning they collected another 28 vital championship points. While the team were disappointed not to make the most of their undoubted pace, 52 points from a possible 65 and leaving Le Mans second overall in the EWC standings, just nine points behind the leaders, was a strong way to kick off the defence of their EWC crown.
The Belgian-based KM99 team consisting of riders Jérémy Guarnoni, Florian Marino, and Randy de Puniet enjoyed a strong start before a crash saw them drop down the order before fighting their way back to 13th by the end of the race.
The second round of the 2024 FIM EWC season takes place in Belgium, with the 8 Hours of Spa Motos on June 7th and 8th at the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, a track where YART were victorious last year when it was still a 24-hour race.
24 Heures Motos Results
Niccolò Canepa – P3
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team
“We have to take the positives from a very strong weekend. We have shown our pace, not just in the race but in practice, qualifying, and in every type of condition. We scored a good number of points in the end, and while it would have been awesome to win this race with my YART teammates, the most important thing is that we didn’t lose many points to our rivals, and we will come back to try and win in Le mans next year. Up next is Spa, a track we love and which really suits the R1, so we are already focusing on that, and we are up for the championship fight.”
Marvin Fritz – P3
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team
“If you had told us beforehand that we would get a podium and be second in the championship, just nine points off the leaders, we would have taken the deal. The most important thing in the EWC is to finish the 24-hour races, as there are so many points up for grabs, and there is one 24-hour race less this year. To leave Le Mans second in the championship puts us in a strong position. Of course, having finished second three times here before, we would have loved to have won it as a team. The incredibly positive thing is that we showed our speed in all conditions, and I think this is just the beginning of what we can achieve. We can’t wait for the chance to bounce back in Spa.”
Karel Hanika – P3
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team
“First of all, I would like to apologise to the whole team for my mistake. It was a costly one, to be honest, because we were comfortably in the lead. I still don’t really know what happened. We will have to analyse the data, but I take the blame myself anyway. I will work on this to improve for the future, as I am not happy with my performance over the entire weekend. Hats off to Niccolò and Marvin, who were able to finish the race together for the last eight hours. I was a bit battered and bruised and had some pain in my left shoulder, so we decided not to stress it anymore. They did an amazing job; they were there to win it and were the fastest on track over the whole weekend. It is great to have teammates like that. I promise to do my best to reach their level and sorry again to the team, as they deserved this win, but I will come back stronger.”
Mandy Kainz
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team – Team Manager
“To finish on the podium here at Le Mans is always a good result due to the challenging nature of the race and the track conditions. We are disappointed we did not come away with the win, as we had the pace all weekend, but to leave with 52 points and be second in the championship is still a positive result. Obviously, Karel was upset with his crash, but the conditions were at their worst when it happened; he should not be too hard on himself. Niccolò and Marvin responded superbly to take the rest of the stints, and as a team, we are strong, with no weak links. The key thing for me is just how well we performed, so if we can carry this pace into the next round at Spa, we will surely be able to fight at the front again.”
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