Endurance racing is perhaps the ultimate test of both man and machine. In the past, teams would pace themselves in order to rest both elements enough to make a final push at the end. These days, however, motorcycles are more reliable than ever, and riders train like triathletes. The resulting endurance races almost seem like sprints, as the pace from start to finish is blindingly quick.
This weekend, the World Endurance Championship kicks off its season, and round one is none other than the Bol d’Or 24-Hour race at Magny-Cours in France. As the season approaches, the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, the defending champions, have a big target on their backs as they seek to defend their title.
Team regulars Vincent Philippe and Anthony Delhalle are joined by Erwan Nigon and reserve rider Damian Cudlin aboard the Suzuki GSX-R1000 at the 78th edition of the historic race as SERT chases its 14th world title.
Last season’s series runners-up, Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin, has recruited French Supersport riders Mathieu Gines and Lucas Mahias to ride alongside team regulars David Checa and Kenny Foray, while Monster Energy Yamaha YART will field Igor Jerman, 2013 Australian Superbike champion Wayne Maxwell and fellow countryman Rick Olson.
Suzuki’s Team R2CL has confirmed its line-up of Guy Martin, Gwen Giabbani and Gareth Jones, while the new Honda Racing factory team will run Endurance specialists Sébastien Gimbert, Julien da Costa and Freddy Foray.
Bol d’Or practice and race schedule:
Thursday 24 April:
11.30 – 12.30 Free practice.
17.10 – 19.00 Qualifying 1 (30 minutes per rider).
21.00 – 22.00 Night practice.
Friday 25 April:
12.20 – 14.10 Qualifying 2 (30 minutes per rider).
18.50 – 21.00 Pit walk.
Saturday 26 April:
10.30 – 11.15 Warm up.
12.35 – 14.15 Pit walk.
15.00 Race begins.