Team Suzuki Press Office – July 18.
Yoshimura SERT Motul: GSX-R1000R – 17th – 4th in Championship.
The Yoshimura SERT Motul Suzuki team fought back adversity in today’s Endurance World Championship second round in Portugal to keep their 2021 title hopes alive.
GSX-R1000R riders Sylvain Guintoli, Gregg Black and Xavier Simeon dominated the 12 Hours of Estoril in rising temperatures but showed their team spirit to claw back after two unfortunate accidents.
At the drop of the flag, Gregg Black was once again the fastest to get out of the starting grid to holeshot the race from his third position.
The Suzuki GSX-R1000R dominated its opponents but the rising heat of the track, which increased each hour, put more and more strain on the tyres grip. The track became tricky and many riders crashed, which was the case for Sylvain Guintoli, sliding-off just before the third hour of the race while in the lead. The whole technical team quickly repaired the damage caused by this crash and when the Suzuki #1 returned to the track, after more than six minutes in the box, it was 17th in the classification.
Black, Xavier Siméon and Guintoli then focused on ensuring their rise in the rankings and get a maximum of points; Guintoli setting the fastest lap of the race.
At mid-race, the GSX-R1000R had already made up part of his deficit on the race leader in sixth position. The podium was therefore once again in sight and the team kept a good race pace while remaining focused on their objective.
However, with five hours to go, Simeon, then fifth in the race, collided violently with a competitor.
But with all podium hopes gone, the team did not give up and after a long mechanical intervention in the pits, the Suzuki #1 was back on track in 24th position with the new objective of winning some precious points for the championship.
This perseverance and determination was rewarded with 17th place at the finish, which sees the Yoshimura SERT Motul team to leave the Portuguese circuit with seven additional points.
The next race of the season will take place on the Paul Ricard circuit in Castellet, in France for the 84th edition of the Bol d’Or on September 18 and 19th.
Damien Saulnier – Team Manager SERT:
“This race has proven once again that in Endurance, nothing is ever decided in advance. We came here with points ahead, a lot of hope, a well-functioning team and three fast riders. At the start of the race, we showed our potential. And then, a few hours later the result is completely different. It’s racing, with its ups and downs. It’s up to us to reverse the trend at the Bol d’Or.”
Yohei Kato – Team Director:
“Of course, it’s a disappointment for us to finish in this position. There were two crashes but we could also see the performance of our team. Our tyres were very good. We also managed the consumption of the bike well. Everything worked well and we showed that we have the potential to win here. The championship is still open and we will fight at the Bol d’Or to get back to the lead.”
“I am obviously very disappointed. Once again, the team did a very good job, which allowed us to be very competitive in the race, in a position we didn’t expect. Then there were some race events that worked against us this time. I’m really sorry for the team who gave 200% as usual. It’s a shame to finish the race with this result. We had all the elements in hand to fight for victory.”
“It was the opposite of Le Mans for us. We started the race very well and then my crash disrupted our progress. But after that, we started off really well and the podium was within our reach. But Xavier was really unlucky. It’s a racing event, not his mistake. The bike was badly damaged in that second crash and we lost a lot of time. Overall I think we showed determination and good pace in the second part of the race. The positions are getting closer in the championship. This will make for an interesting race at the Bol d’Or.”
“In practice we saw that there was a small gap between us and the two leading bikes. But our team worked well until the last minute, so I was efficient right away in the race. It was surprising to see how much we had improved. The conditions were difficult for everyone, but everything worked very well for us. Maybe too well. We shouldn’t have played the game of our opponents and secured a good place. But when a victory is in your grasp, it’s very hard to let your chance go. This time we paid the consequences. It’s a lesson to remember.”
YOSHIMURA SERT MOTUL SUZUKI – HOUR-BY-HOUR STATS:
1: Yoshimura SERT Motul – 1st (35 laps)
2: Yoshimura SERT Motul – 1st (70 laps)
3: Yoshimura SERT Motul – 15th (101 laps)
4: Yoshimura SERT Motul – 10th (135 laps)
5: Yoshimura SERT Motul – 8th (170 laps)
6: Yoshimura SERT Motul – 6th (206 laps)
7: Yoshimura SERT Motul – 5th (241 laps)
8: Yoshimura SERT Motul – 24th (258 laps)
9: Yoshimura SERT Motul – 22nd (293 laps)
10: Yoshimura SERT Motul – 20th (328 laps)
11: Yoshimura SERT Motul – 17th (364 laps)
12: Yoshimura SERT Motul – 17th (400 laps)