News 17 Apr 2010

EWC: Cudlin and Martin top four in Le Mans Superpole

Cudlin and the BMW Elf 99 team have secured a top three start at Le Mans.

Cudlin and the BMW Elf 99 team have secured a top three start at Le Mans.

The pressure was intense and the suspense was very high yesterday afternoon in Le Mans for the Superpole of the 24 Hours Moto, the season opener of the 2010 Endurance World Championship.

Adopting the World Superbike knock out-style Superpole for this season, the first session, opened to the twenty fastest teams after the qualifications, was fatal to BK Maco Moto Racing Team. Already in trouble after Dani Ribalta broke his arm when he crashed during the qualifications, the Yamaha BK Maco Moto was eliminated as Jason Pridmore also hit the ground.

The first session highlight was the best performance from Erwan Nigon on the BMW Michelin in 1:39.167, ahead of Sylvain Barrier on the Honda National Motos in 1:39.227 and Vincent Philippe in the SERT Suzuki at 1:39.269.

In the second Superpole session, opened to the sixteen fastest, it was Suzuki RT Moto Virus’ turn to be eliminated as Frédéric Jond crashed. On the Honda National Motos, Sylvain Barrier also crashed but, however he managed to get back on track and improved his lap time in 1:39.646, which was enough to give him access to the Superpole third session.

Julien da Costa did the session’s best lap on his Kawasaki GSR in 1:38.271, ahead of Vincent Philippe on SERT Suzuki in 1:38.384 and Erwan Nigon on the BMW Michelin in 1:38.176. The second session’s was really disappointed for Yamaha France GMT 94 Ipone with the tenth time, since the third session is open only to the eight fastest.

In that ultimate session, Julien da Costa confirmed the Kawasaki GSR’s domination as he signed the best lap in 1:37.783, ahead of the SERT Suzuki of Vincent Philippe in 1:38.011 and the Honda Elf BMP 99 with Matthieu Lagrive in 1:38.474. With Gwen Giabbani, the Yamaha Austria Racing Team finally managed to clinch the fourth place on the starting grid, ahead of the BMW Michelin and the Honda National Motos.

Fastest Australian, riding for the Honda Elf BMP 99 team alongside Lagrive, was Damian Cudlin, who posted 1:38.24, reigning World Champion Steve Martin rode his YART R1 to a 1:39.093, and Alex Cudlin posted a 1:40.516 – his QERT Suzuki team slotting in 21st on the grid and sixth best of the Superstock machines.

This GSR Team pole position might be a strong sign of a great Kawasaki return at the highest rank of the World Endurance – going back as far as 2000 to find a Kawasaki starting from pole position at Le Mans.