FIM press release:
Yamaha Austria Racing Team of Igor Jerman, Gwen Giabbani and Steve Martin took their first victory at Le Mans. YART paid a tribute to the Yamaha brand at and to the Austrian
anthem at Le Mans. As a permanent team, YART took a first option for the 2009 Qtel FIM Endurance World Championship title.
YART took victory with a seven laps gap over the Honda France of Sébastien Charpentier, Matthieu Lagrive and Steve Plater and eleven gaps over the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team of Vincent Philippe, Guillaume Dietrich and Barry Veneman.
During 24 hours, and very often under the rain and on a damped track, the three Japanese brands were involved in the most intense racing seen for years. As their talented riders managed to avoid crashing, YART could take this victory, with the support of their Michelin tyres that seemed to be perfectly suited for those racing conditions.
Honda France neither Suzuki Endurance Racing Team managed to avoid crashing on a very tricky track. Honda France even started the race from the end of the pack after Matthieu Lagrive crashed. The SERT reckons that the lack of track time and development with the Dunlop tyres explain their third place. They’ve already announced to take revenge at Bol d’Or.
The Suzuki RT Racing Team Moto Virus of Jean-Louis Devoyon, Frédéric Jond and Raphaël Chèvre took a fantastic fourth place after a faultless race. This is the best result for this permanent team, who has a short career so far, and they score big points for the 2009 championship as well.
The first two Superstock bikes are in fifth and sixth position. After an intense battle towards the end of the race, the Suzuki Junior Team LMS (Freddy Foray, Cédric Tangre, Louis Bulle) took a class victory with a tiny twenty seconds lead over the Qatar Endurance Racing Team (Mashel Al Naimi, Masahiro Shinjo, Anthony Delhalle). That gives QERT some great points to conquer the FIM World Cup for the second year in a row. The Qatari team also got the ESCRA prize given for the best pit work. The Suzuki TRT 27 Bazar 2 la Bécane (Mathieu Andrieu, Sébastien Pruhlière, Geoffrey Gnemmi) completes the Superstock podium.
The GSR Kawasaki is in eighth place. The official Kawasaki of Julien Da Costa, Kenny Foray and Fred Moreira was delayed by a few crashes and a fuel inlet problem. The Kawasaki Bolliger Switzerland of Patric Muff, Horst Saiger and Rico Penzkofer managed to score some points after several crashes with a tenth place overall and a seventh in the
Formula EWC class.
This 32nd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was also a great popular success. More than 92 000 spectators have been attending the race, which is 10 % more than last year. The first hours of the race were very busy. In the leading pack from the first minutes of the race, the Yamaha France GMT 94 raced for 36 minutes before they retire due to some overheating and an engine breakdown. A stone hit the official Yamaha’ radiator.
The Yamaha Phase One Endurance was also affected by some overheating problem and retired around 5 pm. More retiring had to come. After a very good race from the beginning, the Honda Michelin Power Research Team had to face repeated electric problems and four crashes. They quitted the race before 9 am. The Honda National Motos also retired around 3 am after several crashes.
Crashing was fatal for many teams. The Suzuki AM Moto Racing, once in fourth place at 9pm, had to retire at 1 am with a broken frame. In the fourteenth place at 10 am, the Suzuki Team 18 Sapeurs-Pompiers disappeared in the classification. Strongly installed in the top-ten, the Yamaha BK Maco Moto Racing Team left the race at 3 am after Jason
Pridmore had a serious crash. The Yamaha LTG 57 Zone Rouge had to retire after their second crash around 6 am. The Suzuki MCS Racing did not manage to pass through the
evening after several crashes.
The Honda Select Machines of former Motocross champion Michaël Pichon disappeared with a broken engine early in the night.
In the Open class, the Metiss JLC Moto was doing a good race in the middle of the pack until they crashed and retired at 2 am. The Honda RC 30 Moto Journal Matmut is the only one to finish in the Open class, despite one crash and a few mechanical problems during the night.
Next round is in the 31st of May, for the 8 Hours of Oschersleben in Germany.