Category Archives: Saisons

Superbike World Championship – Argentina

Two more wins for Rea

In the wake of his fifth world champion title at the end of September in Magny-Cours, Jonathan Rea chalked up three new podiums in Argentina. And the Kawasaki rider made it twice to the top step.

The penultimate event of the Superbike World Championship season, the Argentinian event organized on the Villicum circuit in San Juan once again allowed the Kawasaki riders to show off. Third during the practice test sessions and second at the finish of the first race, Jonathan Rea took home two victories on Sunday, gaining the upper hand over Alvaro Bautista, the winner the day before. “I’m very happy with the way we managed this weekend,” said the five-time world champion. “We started on a very dirty track which caused us many problems, especially in terms of tire wear. But after each session and after each race the team did a great job, changing the settings of my bike each time. On Sunday, it behaved perfectly. The conditions had improved, the grip was better, and I was able to hold off Bautista who brakes hard. I was able to keep up a great pace that even allowed me to get away from him fairly quickly.” In trouble during the practice test sessions, Leon Haslam was penalized by being far back on the grid at each start. Sixth on Saturday, the British rider who, unlike his opponents was riding the San Juan track for the first time, finished eighth in the sprint race and tenth in the last event of the weekend. Toprak Razgatlioglu on the other hand rode well and, like Rea, chalked up three podiums during the Argentinian weekend. Three times third, the Turkish rider confirmed his improvement during the second part of the championship. In Supersport, Lucas Mahias finished his weekend on the second step of the podium. “I lacked feeling during the practice test sessions,” said the Frenchman. “At the beginning of the race, I still didn’t feel very comfortable on the bike. But by watching my opponents, I started to take the bends more tightly and found I could ride at a much faster pace. I was even the fastest on the second half of the race. Unfortunately, Jules Cluzel had taken too much of an advance for me to catch up with him. Whatever the case, this new podium was a great reward for the entire Kawasaki team.” His teammate Hikari Okubo took the chequered flag in twelfth position after his machine had vibration problems.

The Championship

Although he won the Championship title during the last weekend of the championship organized in France, it seems Jonathan Rea can’t win enough. The Kawasaki rider further increased his lead over his opponents in Argentina. 141 points now separate him from Alvaro Bautista. Further down the list, Leon Haslam remains in sixth place overall with 257 points, just behind Toprak Razgatlioglu who is now only five points behind Alex Lowes and six behind Michael Van der Mark. Already assured of the title of best independent rider, the Turk can still hope to overtake the two official Yamaha riders and finish the championship on the third step of the podium. In Supersport, Lucas Mahias has consolidated his fourth place and is now only 14 points behind Jules Cluzel. Fifth and missing 46 points, Hikari Okubo can no longer hope to catch up with his teammate.

CITROËN AND OGIER TAKE BRONZE IN WALES GB

45th Wales Rally GB (3 – 6 October 2019) – Finish

Wales Rally GB lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest events on the WRC calendar as Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia negotiated the unpredictable Welsh weather and muddy conditions to finish third overall. Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made it to the end of the rally, having been forced to rejoin under Rally 2 rules, gathering considerable experience in the process.

With today’s final leg only covering 38.42 kilometres, and held on stages well known to the all the crews, it was asking a lot of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia to make up the deficit to the top two crews. Matters were only made worse when the Great Orme stage (4.74km), where some big gaps appeared last year, was cancelled this year for safety reasons. At that point, the French pair focused on keeping clear of trouble in the many tricky sections, before going for it in the Power Stage. They were second fastest on the final stage, therefore adding four bonus points to those awarded for finishing third overall.

This result is Citroën Total World Rally Team’s eleventh podium in twelve rounds this season and the French crew’s eighth top-three finish, and ensures they remain in second position in the championship, twenty-eight points behind the leaders.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia moved into the top three after the rally’s first proper stage, before driving really aggressively in the C3 WRC on Friday afternoon, claiming two stage wins and confirming their intention to try and secure a sixth win at this round. They ended the opening leg just 3.4s off the lead. Determined to pursue their push on Saturday, not only the longest leg of the weekend but also contested without a mid-leg service, the six-time world champions once again pushed as hard as they could in an exciting and closely-fought scrap at the front. Unfortunately, they weren’t quite able to match the pace of the other two championship contenders. They therefore began today’s final leg in third place, 17.3s behind the leaders and 6.3s off second place.

After driving somewhat cautiously on the first proper stage as they got to grips with the handling of the C3 WRC on the greasy Welsh roads, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm immediately upped their pace with a fourth fastest time, 4.0s off the pace on the following stage (Penmachno, 16.19km). A third fastest time, just 1.0s off the leading pace on Aberhirnant (SS5, 10.26km) meant they made it the mid-leg service on day one just 7.8s off the podium. However, they were then caught out by one of the stages’ many changes in grip, overestimating the grip available on a braking point at the start of the second loop. They went no further on the opening leg. Having rejoined the action under Rally 2 rules on Saturday, they focused on improving their knowledge of the subtleties of the event and learning what it is like to start first in the running order on muddy, slippery roads, sometimes flooded with standing water. They nonetheless showed impressive speed at certain points, scoring a third fastest time on the Power Stage, within a second of the stage-winning time.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“The Power Stage sums up our weekend in many ways: we have been a couple of tenths back throughout the rally. We tried our best and gave it absolutely everything, but we were just a bit short of performance whilst Ott had a super weekend. It’s not a great result for us in terms of the championship with just two rounds to go, but we’re going to keep fighting tooth and nail for as long as it remains possible mathematically to win the title.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“For sure, it’s a shame to find yourself out of contention on the Friday. But there are some positives because learned a lot here. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of performance we managed to show in the C3 WRC despite having had totally dry conditions for our pre-event test.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

What is your analysis of this slightly disappointing weekend?

Yes, I suppose we have slightly mixed feelings about our weekend. Obviously, there are many things we can be pleased about, not least securing the brand’s eleventh podium in twelve rounds this season. We also showed great reliability with the C3 WRC, especially on Saturday when we had to cover almost half of the total distance with no service period. On the other hand, we had hoped to be more competitive so that Sébastien and Julien could keep moving upwards in the championship standings, especially as they once again showed incredible fight at this rally. It’s an event where they excel, as can be seen in their performance on the Power Stage. Instead of making up ground, however, they have dropped a little further back. Similarly, we were hoping for better for Esapekka and Janne, but they were a little unlucky in drifting marginally off the line at the wrong place. We saw afterwards in the pace they showed that they obviously could have secured a strong result this weekend, but you need quite a bit of experience to read the grip on these muddy gravel roads, something that they are still in the process of gathering. They also learned a lot during the rest of the rally, by being consistent.

How do see the final two rounds?

Obviously, the situation in the championship is more difficult now and we’re going to need a bit of good luck to turn things in our favour. But we’re not about to give up. We now have to work hard to give Sébastien and Julien a car that enables them to fight for victory at these two remaining rounds. Last week, Sébastien spent a day testing on tarmac at our Satory test track. This week, we had another test there and next week, we’ll be holding a four-day test in Spain. We’re going to give it our very best shot, so we have no regrets at the end of the year.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Until the end of the Power Stage, the Citroën Total World Rally Team tried everything to limit the points dropped in the championship, with a team strategy that was close to perfect. 

Despite their misfortune on day one, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm constantly showed their competitiveness on the Welsh roads, whenever they weren’t too hampered by the conditions. This is why the team encouraged them to express their talent on the Power Stage, as part of a team strategy designed to nick as many points as possible from their rivals. The Finnish pair executed their part perfectly, topping the timesheets as many other crews completed, until Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia moved ahead of them by less than five tenths. Neuville tried and failed to dislodge the two Citroën crews, before Tänak finally managed to grab the top time by just over four tenths of a second.

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

2. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:00:58.0
3. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +10.9
4. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +23.8
5. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +35.6
6. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +48.6
7. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +58.2
8. Tidemand / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5:23.8
9. Breen / Nagle (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 9:25.0

27. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +35:53.7

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Ott Tänak – 240 points

Sébastien Ogier – 212 points

1. Thierry Neuville – 199 points
2. Andreas Mikkelsen – 102 points
3. Kris Meeke – 98 points
4. Elfyn Evans – 90 points
5. Jari-Matti Latvala – 84 points
6. Esapekka Lappi – 83 points
7. Teemu Suninen – 83 points
8. Dani Sordo – 72 points

* Subject to publication of the official standings by the FIA

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Hyundai WRT – 340 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 332 points
3. Citroën Total WRT – 278 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 200 points

* Subject to publication of the official standings by the FIA

ASTON MARTIN VANTAGE GTE DOMINATES IN SIX HOURS OF FUJI

– Aston Martin Racing clinches first Vantage GTE victory of WEC season
– First double-class victory first for Aston Martin Vantage GTE in WEC
– Team earns first double-podium for Vantage as sister car finishes third
– TF Sport captures first win in WEC to cap an amazing month for team

Sunday 6 October, 2019, Fuji Speedway, Japan. The Aston Martin Vantage GTE clinched its first double victory in the FIA World Endurance Championship, with the car winning both the GTE Pro and Am classes of the 6 Hours of Fuji. It was Aston Martin’s first double triumph since the team managed it in Mexico in 2016.

Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim delivered a perfectly-judged performance with the #95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE Pro car in Japan, to deliver their first win of the 2019-2020 season and their second since the car was introduced in May 2018.

Meanwhile in GTE Am TF Sport dominated the race with a lights-to-flag victory, having started from the class pole position. Sørensen began the race from third, but quickly moved up to second in a first hour that stood out for its fantastically close racing between the three manufacturer teams in the Pro class. Once in front, thanks to a brilliant pass for the lead by the Dane on the pit straight using the tow of backmarker, he and team-mate Nicki Thiim (DEN) were able to establish control of the race. The duo did briefly lose the lead to their team-mates Alex Lynn (GB) and Maxime Martin (BEL) in the #97 car, who undercut the #95 on an alternative strategy in the second hour, but after that the Danes managed the race and the intermittent rainy conditions perfectly. Lynn and Martin brought the sister Vantage GTE home in third, marking the first time the car has recorded a double-podium finish in GTE Pro.

It was the fifth win for Thiim and Sørensen in the Dane Train, and the third victory for the Vantage GTE in the last six WEC events. It means that the Danes are now second in the GTE Pro drivers’ standing, one point off the lead, while Aston Martin is also second in the Manufacturers’ Championship with 65 points.

“Winning a race like the one we did today is why we all do it,” said Sørensen. “It was great to be involved in the fight for the lead in the first hour of the race, and because we were leading, after that the race seemed to fly by. This was an important win for Aston Martin and and I am very proud for the team. I’m delighted.” Thiim added: “It is a great feeling to be standing here as a winner. WEC GTE Pro has some of the best racing on the planet as you saw today. It was so close that we had to split strategies on the two cars to cover off the competition. That worked well for us and I’m really proud of the team who have worked so hard for this. They kept their focus and had the right mentality today which was why we were able to capitalise on the car’s pace.
This is a fantastic result for Aston Martin.”

In only the second race since the Vantage GTE became eligible to race in the Am class, TF Sport produced an outstanding performance. Having started from pole position the bright red #90 car led all the way. Salih Yoluc became the first Turkish driver to win a WEC event, while for AMR works drivers Jonny Adam (GB) and Charlie Eastwood (IRL) it was the end of a long wait. TF Sport has finished second four times in the last two seasons prior to this win.

Aston Martin Racing Managing Director John Gaw added, “This result is the perfect demonstration of the Vantage GTE’s potential. It was a great performance by the two Danes. Marco drove extremely well in the first hour and Nicki was outstanding throughout his stint and when the rain came. This was also the first opportunity for us to see our Technical partner Michelin’s new tyres in action on an equal footing in the dry against our rivals, and I think we’ve proven that we are very much in the fight. That Alex and Max also finished on the podium rounded off an excellent team effort. It was indeed a great day for Aston Martin, and I would like to wish TF Sport congratulations on an excellent and long overdue win in the GTE Am class.”

The next round of the FIA WEC takes place at Shanghai, in China, on 10 November.

MotoGP World Championship Thailand Grand Prix

Márquez keeps his lead

With only four races remaining, Álex Márquez now has a forty-point lead in the Moto2 World Championship standings. The title is getting closer …

The first of the four events on the Asia / Pacific Tour, the Thailand Grand Prix was more than a mere formality for the riders who had to cope with harsh weather conditions and a track whose grip changed from one day to the next.  Álex Márquez handled it well. Chalking up his fifth pole position in seven Grands Prix, the Spaniard finished the first lap of the race in the lead before giving way to Luca Marini. He then fought it out with Iker Lecuona, Brad Binder and Augusto Fernandez before crossing the finish line in fifth position. “The race was more difficult than expected,” said the championship leader. “Right from the warm-up this morning I found it difficult keeping up the pace. The conditions were noticeably different from the free practice sessions and things were more difficult for me. Despite it all we had a good race, I fought long enough in the lead, and could have made the podium. That was not to be, but the weekend was still positive, I finished fifth with useful points for the championship.” Xavi Vierge never saw the checkered flag. After qualifying for seventh place, the Catalan fell on the eleventh lap, trying to catch up with the leaders. On the side of the Tech 3 team, Marco Bezzecchi clinched his second top ten of the season after Assen. “The bike was working well and despite the heat I managed to keep enough energy for the end of the race,” said the Italian, “and that allowed me to overtake several riders in the last six laps.” Phillip Oettl took the checkered flag in twenty-second position. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira finished just short of the points, handicapped by pain in his shoulder after a fall during the practice test sessions. “I was paced well on the first part of the race but unfortunately I couldn’t keep it up,” regretted the Portuguese rider. Hafizh Syahrin complained about a lack of engine power probably due to the heat. He finished in twentieth position.

The Championship

Although he lost two points to Augusto Fernandez after the Thailand Grand Prix, Álex Márquez has nonetheless consolidated his position as leader, since with four races to go before the end of the championship he now has a forty-point lead over his Spanish opponent. Xavi Vierge has slipped to fifteenth place while Marco Bezzecchi has moved up to twenty-first. In the MotoGP category, Miguel Oliveira keeps his 17th place and Hafizh Syahrin is still 24th.

Endurance – Bol d’Or

Champions deserved better

For their first race with the number 1 plate, the riders of the team Kawasaki SRC were really unlucky. Just as they were fighting it out with the front-runners, the title-holding team had to retire after a crash, all due a cursed slick of oil.

The opening round of the 2019/2020 season of the Endurance World Championship, the Bol d’Or turned into a nightmare for the team Kawasaki SRC. Having qualified for second place on the starting grid, the title holders successfully rode through the chaotic start to the race, the rain having forced the organizers to suspend the event shortly after 18:00. “We started aquaplaning on the straight,” said Jeremy Guarnoni. “Even riding behind the pace became dangerous. Stopping the bikes was the right decision.” The 83rd Bol d’Or was interrupted for a dozen hours. The race management waited until the weather improved to restart the bikes at 6:00 am for the next 8 hours. After starting well, the team Kawasaki SRC was among the leading quartet when the Honda number 5 broke its engine, covering the Paul Ricard circuit with oil. In the wake of Mike Di Meglio, Erwan Nigon was trapped without being able to react. “There was oil everywhere,” said Gilles Stafler’s rider. “I found myself on the ground without having the time to understand or do anything. I was able to pick up my bike, and I was about to start it again when Loris Baz fell in turn. His bike cut me down, and when it hit mine, everything caught on fire. I just managed to get out of the blaze, it was pretty terrifying.” The motorcycle being completely destroyed, the Kawasaki team were unable to make it to the finish of the first race of the season. The next meeting is in December in Malaysia for the Eight Hours of Sepang, a new event on the EWC calendar.

MotoGP World Championship – Aragon Grand Prix

Márquez increases his lead

Leader of the Moto2 World Championship, Álex Márquez increased his lead by finishing third in the Grand Prix of Aragon while taking advantage of the fall of Augusto Fernandez, his main rival in the title race.

In front of his fans, on the Aragon circuit, the leader of the Moto2 world championship was eager to shine. Álex Márquez didn’t win, but by making it to the podium for the ninth time of the season and also taking advantage of the fall of his rival in the title race, Augusto Fernandez, the rider from Cervera has increased his lead at the top of the overall standings. From pole position, Márquez fought it out to the finish behind Brad Binder, together with Luca Marini and Jorge Navarro. “It was a difficult race because the conditions were different from those we had during the practice test sessions, especially because of the wind that had changed direction,” said the Marc VDS rider. “In trying to catch up with Binder I used my rear tire too much and at the end of the race I lacked traction. So when Jorge overtook me I didn’t insist. Augusto having fallen, my thoughts were on the championship.” His team-mate Xavi Vierge made it again to the top-ten, taking the chequered flag in tenth place. “I was hoping for better,” said the Catalan. “I didn’t have the same good feelings as during the practice test sessions, I had the impression I was fighting with the bike.” Marco Bezzecchi, who suffered from a lack of grip on his rear tire, finished fifteenth. Philipp Oettl, the second rider of the team KTM Tech 3, had to settle for twenty-sixth place. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira returned to the top fifteen. Thirteenth on the finish line, the Portuguese rider was satisfied with his performance after two Did Not Finish: “I had a good race fighting it out with the top riders. I am all the happier in that it’s not easy to overtake on this circuit.” His teammate Hafizh Syarhin ranked twenty-first.

The Championship

With his third place, Álex Márquez increased his lead in the overall standings from 26 to 38 points. A good operation before the major round of four races overseas looming ahead in October. Xavi Vierge stays in fourteenth place. On the side of the Tech 3 team, Marco Bezzecchi is in 23rd place with 11 points while Philipp Oettl’s counter has yet to start. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira has moved up one places. He is now seventeenth with 29 points. No change for Hafizh Syahrin, still twenty-fourth with 6 points.

INCREDIBLE TURNAROUND GIVES TIMMY HANSEN WORLD RX LEAD IN LATVIA

Riga, 15 September 2019 – Timmy Hansen has taken the lead of the FIA World Rallycross drivers’ championship heading to the final round of the season, scoring victory in an incredible reversal of fortunes.

After Qualifying 2 on Saturday afternoon Timmy was P15 and out of the Semi Final qualification places, after being pushed into a tyre barrier that broke his car’s right-rear wheel.

But an incredible run of results on Sunday ensured he turned around a potentially disastrous weekend into a race win, starting with topping both Q3 and Q4 to qualify second.

Kevin Hansen’s route to the Semi Finals was a model of consistency. A fantastic launch off the line in Q1 led to heat victory from fifth on the grid, and he continued that consistency across Saturday and Sunday to qualify fourth.

Those results led to Timmy and Kevin sharing the front row of Semi Final 2, with the pair finishing where they started and setting up a thrilling Final battle with title rival Andreas Bakkerud, who had taken the Top Qualifier spot.

Another fantastic start from second on the grid propelled Timmy to the lead by turn one, a position he held until the chequered flag. Kevin was a little less fortunate, trapped in the midfield squeeze that dropped him down to last at turn one. A valiant recovery ensured he finished in fourth place at the flag.

Timmy now has a one-point lead in the drivers’ championship over Bakkerud, while Kevin remains a strong contender in third, only eight points behind his older brother.

Thanks to both drivers’ incredible consistency throughout the year, Team HANSEN MJP needs only eight points at the season finale in South Africa to win the teams’ championship, having further extended its advantage over nearest rival GRX in Latvia.

WORLD RX OF LATVIA RESULTS :

1st – Timmy Hansen

Qualifying 1   –  7th
Qualifying 2   –  DNF
Qualifying 3   –  1st
Qualifying 4   –  1st
Semi-Final 2 –  1st
Final – 1st

4rd – Kevin Hansen

Qualifying 1   –3th
Qualifying 2   –  7th
Qualifying 3   –  10th
Qualifying 4   –  5th
Semi-Final 2 –  2rd
Final – 4rd

TALKING POINTS

You can’t keep a good man down. Timmy won every single session in which he raced on Sunday after being down in P15 the day before.

Timmy is guaranteed to finish the 2019 World RX season as the only back-to-back round winner, following his France win with victory in Latvia. He remains the only multiple winner this year too.

Kevin “lost” the grid draw lottery and ended up choosing his grid slot last for the second consecutive weekend. Nonetheless, he still ran in the top five during qualifying all weekend.

This is the first time in World RX history that three drivers have gone to the final round still able to win the championship. The last time that the World RX title race went to the final round was 2015, when one of the two title protagonists was Timmy Hansen.

The big number

13

The number of positions Timmy gained in qualifying, following his Q2 retirement with a broken wheel.

TIMMY HANSEN

“It was tough yesterday. First of all we were very disappointed, but then you can either decide to be angry or to be happy. We came together, we had nice evening and this morning we played some nice music. Everybody was pumped, everyone kept believing that if we made the perfect day today, anything can happen, nothing is certain.

“All four of my launches today were really good. To focus exactly on what you need to do and just drive your best in all these circumstances we’re facing with the championship, in the wet as well, after being in such a low position, is a massive win for the team. This really came from the heart, in wanting it and believing in it. To sit here after where I sat yesterday feels amazing. I’m so proud of these guys, of my big family, that they were with me and that we’ve achieved this together.

“I hope that all three of us have a good weekend in South Africa and a fair battle. Let the best man win!”

KEVIN HANSEN

“I have always struggled a bit in Riga but I felt a lot better this year, which was nice. The one time I had a free run was Q1, where I think I made the launch of the weekend! I got a bit stuck the rest of the time but still had very good speed – I just wasn’t able to get any free air.

“We definitely made some big steps on the launches this weekend. That was the key to staying in front and being fourth at the end of qualifying, then second in the Semi Final. We knew that we were too weak in that area and we knew that if we want to win the championship, we would have to improve there.

“A lot can change in six weeks, so we will make sure to stay on top of our game, drive some TitansRX and prepare ourselves for the final showdown. It’s really important to keep the racing up: when everyone goes to Cape Town for Q1, they will not be as fresh and racing-minded as we will be. In total, with 12 qualifying starts – and hopefully four semi-finals and four finals – between now and Cape Town, we will be keeping our race game really strong. ”

THE BOSS – SUSANN HANSEN

“Everybody stepped up their game this weekend. Our crew always take responsibility but with Kenneth busy filming a TV show in Greece, we felt the absence of one member of a very small team not being here. Their extra effort made a big difference.

“When we came back this morning it had started to rain, so it felt like it was a new race, a new beginning after Timmy’s crash yesterday. It felt like a fresh start.

“What we’ve learned from these difficult moments is that when we turn our focus inwards, rather than looking outside, we begin to focus on every detail: what the spotter needs to say, that the mechanics double and triple check every detail on the cars, and the drivers having one more try at finding the best launch setting.

“This result means the world to us. Timmy and Kevin showed so much strength today and knew exactly what to do during such a rollercoaster weekend. I’m so happy for them and for the whole team.”

NEXT ROUND: 
WORLD RX OF SOUTH AFRICA

Killarney Raceway, located on the northern fringes of Cape Town in South Africa, hosts the World RX season finale on 16/17 November.

Like Biķernieki, it’s a purpose-built circuit racing facility that’s been adapted for rallycross, featuring high-grip asphalt. But unlike the Latvian track, it’s a fast, open, and wide circuit that pushes World RX machines to their highest speeds.

There’s an eight-week wait before the World RX titles are decided – so we’re itching to get back on track in Killarney!INCREDIBLE TURNAROUND GIVES TIMMY HANSEN WORLD RX LEAD IN LATVIA

Endurance Suzuka 8 Hours

KRT winners, SRC Champions!

At the end of a crazy final won by Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam, the Kawasaki SRC team won its first World Endurance Championship title.

All the action happened five minutes from the finish. Jonathan Rea had just taken control of the race after overtaking the official Yamaha ridden by the trio Nakasuga, Lowes and Van der Mark and the Honda with Takahashi, Kyonari and Bradl in the saddle. Stuck in thirteenth place, the SRC Kawasaki team had lost all hope of taking the title. Handicapped by tyre problems, delayed by the unfortunate entry of a pace car and a fall by Nigon, Gilles Stafler’s team had more or less accepted their fate. And then the Suzuki of the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), placed ninth, broke its engine … “It was a crazy end to the race,” said the boss of the Kawasaki team. “We thought we’d lost the title for one point, and we ended up winning it with a five-point lead. It’s true we had a stroke of luck this time round, but it was so bad at the Bol d’Or that I think we deserve the crown.” It was a first for the Kawasaki SRC team, but also the first for Erwan Nigon and Jérémy Guarnoni, in tears at the arrival of this incredible Japanese final. “Everyone has done a great job this season,” said Davi Checa, the third man on the SRC. Our success is well deserved.” Shortly after Etienne Masson broke his engine, Jonathan Rea skidded on the oil left by the SERT Suzuki, forcing the race management to fly the red flag. The four minutes that remained in the race prevented the entry of the pace car, and the ranking of the Eight Hours of Suzuka was therefore based on the bike positions in the lap preceding Rea’s fall. The last time the Kawasaki team KRT won at Suzuka was 26 years ago.

STATEMENTS:

Jonathan Rea: “I cannot believe what is happening really. From being dejected and feeling that everything was out of our hands, I had already gone back to the hotel, said goodbye to all the guys, with lots of tears. I was in the restaurant already, ordering dinner, when my mechanic Uri called me and said, ‘Hey, are you sitting down?’ I thought he was going to ask me to go to another restaurant – but he then told me we had won the 8 Hours. I think common sense prevailed in that one. I have no words because I am really emotional and happy. The strategy was to work on fuel consumption and race consistency and make no mistakes. I feel we executed that quite well although I got quite tired and cramped at the end. But we prepared the best way possible with the limited time we had. I am so proud to be part of the project and what an effort from KRT, KHI, KMJ who prepared for this race in two tests. During the race it is like hell, the hardest race you can ever imagine, but getting a result like this almost makes me want to come back for more. The emotional roller coaster is unreal.”

Leon Haslam: “From everyone being in tears to getting the news sitting in a restaurant that we actually did win it, I have no words to describe how I feel. The Suzuka 8 Hours is always one of the hardest races of the year. The effort we put in to win, from us, the team and Kawasaki means it has been a big roller coaster of emotion. When the oil went down and the situation happened at the end; words cannot describe the lows we had. But when the good news came through, the highs were just as high. In the second half of each stint I really struggled physically but the bike was working well. I am so happy and I want to thank Kawasaki for this opportunity; also the whole team, Toprak and Johnny, and we pushed as hard as we could. It is a shame that we did not get to stand on the top of the podium but the result is in and we have won the Suzuka 8 Hours.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu: “Today I am very tired after watching the race for eight hours! But I am very happy for Johnny and Leon because that was an incredible job today. We are all happy and thank you to everyone. For me this was my first time here – and our team won.”

Guim Roda, KRT Team manager“This race has been outstanding and I think for the public, the fans and everyone it has been the most incredible Suzuka 8 Hours. Yamaha, Honda and Kawasaki – the riders and the factories – have been amazing everybody and they all saw a great race. The best point is that we finally got the victory after Johnny made an incredible last riding stint. The strategy we planned was very good so at the end we got the victory.” 

DS TECHEETAH AND JEAN-ÉRIC VERGNE DOUBLE WORLD CHAMPIONS

After an incredible season, DS TECHEETAH has today clinched the Teams’ Title and Jean-Éric Vergne has become the first double world champion in ABB FIA Formula E history.

After two nervrecking battles in Brooklyn’s Red Hook district, Jean-Éric kept it cool to cross the line as the 2018/2019 ABB FIA Formula E champion.

Mark Preston, DS TECHEETAH Team Principal: “This finale weekend couldn’t have started any worse with the incidents on track yesterday, and finished any better with the double titles today. People can call winning a championship once a flash in the pan, but to have done it twice is no mean feat and solidifies our position as front runners of the championship. I’d like to say a huge congrats to Jean-Éric and everyone in the team and back in the factory, because motorsport is truly a team sport in the end of the day. A team needs to run like a well oiled machine and ours is running like clock work.”

Xavier Mestalan Pinon, DS Performance Director: It’s been four years since we started our commitment in Formula E and we always had the goal of winning. Now it’s done, we are champions! We’re both Teams’ Champions with DS TECHEETAH and Drivers’ Champions with Jean-Éric Vergne. It’s historic and we are so proud! To achieve this level of performance you have to be in the right place at the right time and with the right people. Tonight this is done. The whole team should be very proud! We did it!”

Jean-Éric Vergne, Double Formula E World Champion: “Today has been just incredible. The weekend didn’t start in the way we expected and today wasn’t ideal but none of that matters now because we managed to get both championship titles. It’s still unreal to have become the first driver to be a double world champion and I can only thank my amazing team and everyone involved behind the scenes. This is for us!”

André Lotterer: “Huge congrats to JEV and to the whole DS TECHEETAH team. I’ve never experienced a team like this in my whole motorsport career before and everyone has deserved this double title win today. I wish I could have contributed to extending the gap even further but it wasn’t my weekend, that happens and the main thing is that we’re both Drivers’ and Teams’ champions!”

Superbike World Championship – United States

Rea takes a break

After taking control of the championship in Great Britain, Jonathan Rea accelerated on the Laguna Seca circuit to leave his contenders behind in the overall standings.

The quadruple Superbike world champion could not dream of a better scenario before the summer break. At Donington, in early July, Jonathan Rea shone by winning all three races of the weekend to overtake Alvaro Bautista, leader of the championship since the start of the season in Australia. A week later, in California, the Kawasaki rider scored more points by taking advantage of two errors made by his opponent to break away in the championship. After the start of season when he had had to bend without breaking, in recent weeks Jonathan Rea has found the recipe for success. On the Laguna Seca circuit, the Brit showed his current form by setting a new track record of 1’22″700. After winning on Saturday afternoon, he won again in the Superpole race before finishing second in the final leg behind Chaz Davies. “I’d never imagined a weekend like this in the United States,” said Rea. “I think I could have even won on Sunday afternoon if we hadn’t changed the settings of the bike before the last race. There was some floating on the front end and I preferred to keep close to Chaz who is not a rival for the title for the time being. The balance sheet for the weekend is extremely positive. We’ve regained the upper hand over our opponents. We’ll need to keep it in September when the championship starts up again.” Victim of a fall on Saturday, Leon Haslam had to continue his weekend with a painful hand and a weak arm on one of the most physical routes in the Championship calendar. The Brit showed his courage by finishing fifth in the sprint race and sixth in the last race on Sunday afternoon. “I managed to catch up with Sykes and Lowes but I didn’t have the strength to attack them,” lamented Jonathan Rea’s teammate. Toprak Razgatlioglu also confirmed his current form by crossing the finish line of both races in third place and finished fourth in the Superpole sprint.

The Championship

In two weekends, Jonathan Rea has completely change status. He’s now at the top of the championship score sheet with an 81-point lead over Alvaro Bautista. In Laguna Seca, the Kawasaki rider won his 80th victory in the Superbike World Championship and scored his 156th podium. Fifth overall, Leon Haslam is hot on the heels of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark, while Toprak Razgatlioglu after his two podiums in California has consolidated his sixth place. The next event is in Portugal, on the Portimao circuit, on September 8.