News 23 Mar 2010

EWC: World Endurance setting records in Le Mans lead-up

The 2010 Qtel FIM Endurance World Championship is set to be a big one, with the entry list for the next 24 Hours of Le Mans breaking new records with 31 permanent teams this season and applications are still flowing.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans, opening round of the Qtel FIM Endurance World Championship, will take place on 17-18 April and will be an unprecedented popular event. The organisers received 80 application forms but there are only 64 places available for the qualifying session on the Bugatti race track for the 24 Hours event.

The record level of entries includes high numbers of very competitive teams. Not less than 10 different brands, many of them with official support, are competing in three different classes at Le Mans: Formula EWC, Superstock and Open. Twelve different nationalities and four tyre suppliers will be present on the starting grid.

The 2010 Qtel FIM Endurance World Championship has several assets to explain that success. It is an international championship in which the costs of participation are still limited. The free choice of the tyre manufacturer is also one of its characteristics. This leaves to the team great opportunities of partnership and sponsorship, and also allowed a new tyre supplier, Bridgestone, to officially join the championship. Last but not least, the increasing media and TV coverage of the Qtel FIM Endurance World Championship give more and more popularity to each of the race events.

Up to 64 machines will be allowed to take part in the 33rd 24 Hours of Le Mans qualifying sessions. Amongst them, thirty-one will compete as permanent teams in the whole championship. Needless to say, everyone will try to guess who will be fighting for the 2010 world title.

Current World Champion Yamaha Austria still have the support of Michelin, nine-time world champion Suzuki Endurance Racing Team will race on Dunlop, while 2004 world champion Yamaha France GMT 94 Ipone is playing a new card with Bridgestone. All three of them are contenders for the 2010 Qtel FIM Endurance World Championship.

Next to those very experienced teams, some newcomers in the Formula EWC could create some surprise.

The BMW Michelin Team, with Sébastien Gimbert and Erwan Nigon on the new S 1000 RR, and where the participation of Sébastien Charpentier should be confirmed, is one of them. So is the Honda BMP Elf 99, with Matthieu Lagrive, Karl Muggeridge and Australian Damian Cudlin – a very impressive trio of riders.

A few other teams are also entering Le Mans for victory and are even more determined as they have nothing to lose, since they are not racing for the title chase. This is the case of the official Kawasaki GSR with Julien Da Costa, Gregory Leblanc and Olivier Four, which seems to be more competitive than ever with the support of Pirelli.

In the Superstock class, the Junior Team Suzuki LMS will be definitely the team to beat, with Cédric Tangre, Lucas de Carolis, Baptiste Guittet and David Nivière.

No doubt the current FIM World Cup winner, the Qatar Endurance Racing Team, will do its best on its Suzuki with Anthony Delhalle, Alex Cudlin and Rashid Al Mannai. It is worth noting that Anthony Delhalle has been selected as a wild card rider in the new Moto2 class, for the FIM Road Racing World Championship opening round that will take place on 11 April in Qatar, next to his former team mate, Mashel Al Naimi.

In the Superstock class, two other teams are looking forward to score big points at Le Mans. Endurance Moto 45 on Suzuki with Alexandre Lagrive, Frédéric Bernon and Brice Nunnari, and LTG 57 on Yamaha with Nicolas Jaulneau, Kevin Denis and Adrien Ganfornina. They will have to race against newcomers to claim the 2010 FIM Endurance World Cup. The Team Motor Events on Suzuki with Vincent Bocquet, Emilien Humeau and Gérald Muteau, with Hervé Moineau as team manager, can make a serious impression in that class, as the BMW engaged by Rico Penzkoffer.

The next “pree-Mans” test will take place on the Bugatti race track on 30-31 March, with the first qualifying session for the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans scheduled on 15 April.