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Reigning Endurance World Champions #suzuki Endurance #racing Team will be back on track this week to defend its lead in the new format 2016-2017 series at #lemans in France with mixed emotions following the tragic loss of team mate Anthony Delhalle last month in a practice accident.
Frenchmen #vincentphilippe and #etiennemasson, plus new Australian rider #alexcudlin, will line-up on the #gsxr1000 that the 15-time World Champions raced to victory at the opening round, the Bol d’Or 24-Hour, at Paul Ricard Circuit in France last September.
Their team-mate will be very much in their minds during the #event and during the season and it is a fitting tribute that EWC promoters Eurosport Events will be launching a new accolade, ‘The Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy’ which will be awarded for the first time this weekend and presented by Delhalle’s widow Jessie Delhalle.
The award will go to any team or rider, whether amateur or factory-backed, who does something remarkable during the race - climbing back up the ranks, repairing a bike, helping a competitor, or carrying-off a collective or individual feat. The honorary award, decided by a jury and given out after every race in the FIM Endurance World Championship, is intended to keep the sporting spirit and character of a great rider such as Anthony Delhalle alive for a long time to come.
A total of 60 teams will line-up for Saturday’s 40th edition of the 24 Heures Motos, with a record number of 72 teams fighting for those places on the grid, starting this afternoon (Thursday) with the opening practice and qualifying sessions. Two hours of qualifying starts at 15:40 and there is also night practice between 20:30 and 22:00hrs.
Alongside SERT will be a total of nine manufacturers with the strongest challenges expected from the factory YART and GMT94 plus 2016 #lemans victors SRC Kawasaki teams. Other major teams include Honda #racing, BMW, Aprilia, KTM, Ducati and the Metiss JLC #moto in the Experimental class.
SERT will use the 2016-spec #gsxr1000 for this race but hopes to introduce the new 2017 model at the Oschersleben 8-Hour #event on May 20th. Team Manager Dominique Meliand commented: “We have to make sure we don’t mess up our great start to the season, and keep our points gap to the competition open at the Bol d’Or. The 2017 machine shows a lot of promise performance-wise, but we’re not quite finished with testing of all the new parts.”
However, Junior Team #lemans Sud – who operate out of SERT’s headquarters in #lemans - will debut the long-awaited 2017 #gsxr1000 in the hands of Baptiste Guittet, Cédric Tangre and Robin Camus in the Superstock class. Says Team Manager Damien Saulnier: “It was easier to prepare the machine for our category. Baptiste Guittet, Robin Camus and Cédric Tangre will get to use the new-generation #suzuki, which is more powerful, more responsive and a lot livelier, plus very well-matched to the competition. We’ll also be functioning as a kind of test bench for SERT over a 24-hour race.”
Following today’s first sessions on track, tomorrow (Friday) will see the final two hours of qualifying from 10:10hrs to decide the grid for the race, which gets underway at 15:00hrs local time on Saturday.
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