Team Suzuki Press Office – September 22.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team: GSX-R1000 – 1st
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team started the new 2019-2020 Endurance World Championship season, the 83rd Bol d’Or 24-Hour in France, with victory after the race was cut in half due to extreme weather conditions.
GSX-R1000 riders Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Gregg Black completed a total of 313 laps of the 5.6km Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of the country after heavy rain and high winds forced a stop at 6pm on Saturday and resumed this morning at 6am. SERT, who took a total of 11 scheduled pit stops, finished one lap ahead of runners-up, the Wójcik Racing Team, and also earned extra points for leading at Hour 8 and 16, scoring a total of 60 points.
After a rainy start, SERT immediately shone with Gregg Black aboard the Suzuki, as he literally jumped off the grid to make the holeshot. During the first three hours, the #2 GSXR-1000 never left the top three, before the race direction decided to suspend the race on safety grounds.
The race restarted behind the safety cars, in the order of the ranking of the last lap before the red flag. Always at the front, the whole SERT team, managed by Damien Saulnier, worked hard to maintain the pressure on its rivals and take advantage on their mistakes.
This strategy paid off just before 10:00 am, as the #2 Suzuki took the lead of the race. Determined to offer the SERT its 17th Bol d’Or victory, Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Gregg Black maintained excellent race pace and managed to avoid all the traps of the circuit to the chequered flag.
With the victory, Vincent Philippe becomes the absolute record holder of Bol d’Or victories, with nine wins.
“I was focused on the last stint and I really appreciated that Damien allowed me to finish the race. I want to thank the new SERT for their hard work and constant improvement day after day. But I won’t forget the former team without whom we wouldn’t be here.”
“It wasn’t easy to go back on track this morning, but the bike was working well, and we quickly found the right pace. This race was very special because it was the last Bol d’Or with Vincent. We experienced very strong emotions working together and I am really happy to end this story with a victory.”
“It was a very strange race. The track was very tricky, and the race direction took the right decision for the riders’ safety. We were very consistent all through the race. The team worked really well, and I want to thank them all for this victory because it’s my first victory in a 24-hour race.”
• The 83rd Bol d’Or will go down in the history books as a highly unusual race. As in 1988 and 1996 on the Paul Ricard circuit, the weather conditions, with heavy rainfall, forced the race to be interrupted from 6pm on Saturday to 6am on Sunday.
• SERT’s new Team Manager Damien Saulnier was awarded the Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy as a tribute to his combative style, both in this race and since his arrival at the helm of the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team.