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Stunning Second for YART Yamaha in Bol d’Or Thriller

The YART Yamaha Official EWC Team made a stunning comeback this weekend in the 2018/19 EWC season opening round, the 24 Hour Bol d’Or race. Riders Marvin Fritz, Broc Parkes and Niccolò Canepa delivered an heroic performance to complete the exhausting race in second position.

It was Marvin Fritz’s first opportunity for the YART team to both start and end the EWC race, the young German enjoying the unique pleasure of the Endurance start process, running across the track to jump on the YART Yamaha R1 race bike.

The first hours unfolded to plan, but disaster was to strike with newly joined team member Niccolò Canepa crashing as the dusk gathered on the Paul Ricard circuit. Despite losing nearly the entire engine’s oil capacity, Canepa was able to make it back to the pit as the safety car took to the track. With the clock ticking down the YART team delivered a miracle and were able to get the R1 back on track in record time, re-joining in 27th position.

With any chance of a race victory now impossibly distant, the team’s focus was now switched to completing the 24 hours and taking as many points as possible for damage limitation to their title hopes. The night hours flew past, with Fritz, Canepa and Parkes making steady inroads into the gap to the front pack, gradually moving up despite losing all electronic rider aids as a result of the crash. As dawn broke at 7am the team were incredibly back to 6th place and looking more determined than ever.

As victory became a more realistic target, so the team’s pace increased even further, Australian Parkes scoring the fastest lap of the race some 500 laps in! As the morning wound on, the team were able to reach second position and had established a race-winning pace that put them on target to catch and pass the leaders. With a better fuel strategy to support them, they were unfortunate to be denied the opportunity to make it a reality as the final safety car of the 24hour race came out, dashing hopes of a win.

YART Yamaha eventually brought it home in 2nd position, having made a dramatic comeback from a serious crash and mechanical repair, taking 2nd in the title challenge as the season begins and scoring 33 provisional points.

On top of an incredible performance by YART this weekend, the teams benefiting from Yamaha’s extended support program in the FIM Endurance World Championship got off to a flying start. YART shared the podium with Germany’s WEPOL Racing who were amongst the first to sign up for the added Yamaha support program and finished the first round of the season in third. France’s Yamaha Viltaïs Pierret Experiences put in a consistent performance throughout the marathon race as well, finishing 15th overall and taking home 6 points from the event. The Maco Racing Team of Slovakia put in a solid performance, finishing the 24-hour race just outside of the points but with excellent experience to build on. French outfit 3ART were putting in solid lap times for the first 12 hours of the 2018 Bol d’Or as well, but unfortunately had to retire shortly after the half way point was reached. Moto AIN also had to retire earlier in the race. With four more races to go in the season, the Yamaha supported teams are all looking forwards to getting back on the track and putting more points on the board.

Broc Parkes

YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“It’s frustrating that the safety car came out at the end, the leaders had no fuel left, one more lap and we would have had them, but to be fair at 5pm yesterday I thought we were going home! To come back from where we did to get the finish we did is great. The team worked really well, when we had the problem and came back, it was bigger than expected but they worked super fast and got us back out there, we never gave up and it worked out.”

Marvin Fritz

YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“My teammates did an amazing job, everyone rode perfectly. After Niccolò’s crash our R1 was repaired super fast. Luckily there was a safety car and so we could get back out and into 27th position. We were so far back that we aimed just to finish, but the race turned into something very different. I made my first Endurance start yesterday which was really special and I was able to finish the race as well, so a big thanks to the team for this.”

Niccolò Canepa

YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“I’m really happy, everything worked well and my teammates are consistent. It was a crazy race, from the beginning to the end. After three hours I thought it was over but we were able to come back and fight for potential victory at the end. Every stint we were catching them and finally we got down to 10 seconds and we were one second a lap faster with 45 minutes to go. It would have been possible to pass them, unfortunately the safety car arrived at the worst possible moment, but that’s Endurance!”

Mandy Kainz

YART Yamaha Official EWC Team Manager

“We didn’t give up and we pushed until the end, finally the boys made it. In endurance everyone has problems, so it was expected that we had an issue, No one has no problems in a 24hrs race! Niccolò’s crash left a hole in the bike and we lost nearly all the oil! After the crash we had no electronics for traction control, wheelie control etc. which makes it an amazing performance by the boys. It was a fantastic job by the crew as well to get the bike repaired and back out there as quickly as possible. Without the last safety car we could have closed in on the leader for the win, our boys were fresh and ready for it. It’s a great start to the championship for us, and a great result for Yamaha.”

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