YART Yamaha Ready to Begin Title Defense at Le Man 24 Heures Motos

2024 Yamaha Tracer 7 GT
YART Yamaha Ready to Begin Title Defence at Le Man 24 Heures Motos
The Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team are confident and primed to kick off their FIM Endurance World Championship title defence at the opening round of the 2024 season, the 24 Heures Motos in Le Mans, France, after setting the fastest time during Private Practice on Tuesday.
The 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) saw the YART Yamaha team dramatically clinch their second title at the Bol d’Or, adding to the crown they won in 2009.
Heading into the new season, YART retains the same lineup that lifted the EWC trophy in 2023, with Niccolò Canepa, Karel Hanika, Marvin Fritz, and Reserve Rider Robin Mulhauser all returning and determined to get their year off to the best possible start at the 47th edition of the Le Mans 24 Heures Motos.
In preparation for defending their title, the Austrian squad have enjoyed a busy and productive preseason, including a successful outing at the legendary Daytona 200 in the US that saw them secure a double top-six finish.
They continued this form into the official Le Mans Pre-Test at the start of April, ending the weather-affected two days in second on the combined timesheets before impressing during the Private Practice sessions on Tuesday, which once again saw some rain and numerous red flags, to finish fastest overall with a 1:35.343.
The only concern for YART heading into the race was Canepa’s fitness. The Italian sustained a shoulder injury during a practice crash at Daytona, which saw him miss out on the famous American race, but while still not at 100%, he feels ready to take on the traditional EWC curtain raiser alongside his teammates.
There are a couple of notable changes for the team in 2024. As champions, YART will swap their iconic #7 to proudly display the #1 plate on their Bridgestone-shod Yamaha R1, plus former rider Max Neukirchner will also re-join the team to replace Andrew Pitt as Crew Chief.
One of the most well-known endurance races, the inaugural 24 Heures Motos took place in 1978, and since its inception, it has used the demanding 4.185km Bugatti Circuit layout. This track configuration features the famous Le Mans start/finish straight, Dunlop Esses, and Ford Chicane, while a twisty infield ensures little respite for the riders. Added to this is the prospect of the weather, with the potential for rain and colder temperatures, especially at night, adding to the challenge for teams and riders alike.
The event is one of only two 24-hour races on the four-round EWC calendar in 2024, and with a vital 65 championship points up for grabs over the weekend, YART will be looking to build on the success they have enjoyed at the track in the last two seasons, which has seen them secure back-to-back second-place finishes.
Another team that impressed during pre-season is the KM99 Belgian-based squad who are entering just their second year in the EWC and will be looking to build on a strong debut season. For 2024, the team will feature a revised lineup consisting of riders Jérémy Guarnoni, Florian Marino, and Randy de Puniet.
The track action at the 24 Heures Motos gets underway on Thursday with Free Practice in the morning, ahead of the first qualifying sessions in the afternoon. The second qualifying sessions take place on Friday before the race begins with the traditional running start at a revised time of 3 pm (UTC+2) on Saturday.
Niccolò Canepa
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team
“I am really satisfied with the Private Practice sessions today. We have had a good preseason as a team, and while I am still quite far from 100%, I feel a lot better than I did at the Pre-Test. I was able to do over 60 laps, including a long run, plus I set the quickest time on the qualifying tyre. I know that the race will be tough for me physically as I don’t have the strength in my right arm; therefore, riding for 24 hours, especially at a circuit like Le Mans, is going to be a challenge. I am not someone to give up easily, though, so I will put everything into being as fast as I can and achieve the targets we have set ourselves in this opening race of the season.”
Karel Hanika
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team
“It was a really day for us. I wanted to complete some laps in the dry today as we had a lot of rain during the Pre-test. It was cold and damp in the morning, so it wasn’t very productive, but this afternoon, I did a long stint in the dry and had an excellent feeling with the R1, so I am happy. We used both bikes and tried different tyre combinations and setups and found a good direction. My teammates were super fast, and the whole team worked really hard. We are confident and can’t wait to get started on Thursday!”
Marvin Fritz
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team
“It was a good day today. We had mixed weather, but that is what we expect during the race, so it was good preparation. There were quite a few red flags that meant we had to adapt our plans, but overall, we improved the bike and were the fastest. We worked a lot on race pace, fuel consumption, and tyre combination and continued the momentum from the Pre-Test. We are feeling good, the team did a great job, the Bridgestone tyres are working well, and we are ready no matter the weather conditions.”
Robin Mulhauser
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team – Reserve Rider
“We are delighted with our preseason. The Private Practice sessions were really positive; we managed to do laps in the dry and wet, which was good for preparing us for what we could face in the race. We have a great feeling with the bike on longer runs, and the guys set a good time on the qualifying tyre. We are ready to start our title defence, and I will be there to support the guys if needed.”
Mandy Kainz
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team – Team Manager
“We are ready to begin our title defence here at Le Mans. It has been a good preseason; we have shown good pace at the Pre-Test and during today’s Private Practice sessions. We found a great setup with the R1 and worked on finding the right tyre choices for the challenging nature of this race, where colder temperatures and the weather will surely play a part. Niccolò is still not 100% fit yet, but he is getting stronger with every lap and managed to put in some long runs today. We had mixed conditions in both tests, and all of the riders have shown great pace in the wet and dry. The whole team has worked incredibly hard since we were crowned champions to ensure we arrived here at Le Mans in the best possible way, and we are excited to be finally going racing again.”
About Michael Le Pard 10415 Articles
"Mr. Totalmotorcycle". Owner and Founder of Total Motorcycle, the World’s Largest Motorcycle Site with over 425 million readers since 1999. Total Motorcycle is my pride and joy and being able to reach 425 million people has been incredible and I could not have done it without the support of my visitors, readers and members...thank you so much! We are all making a difference to millions of riders worldwide.