Qualifying report ahead of FIM EWC season opening 24 Heures Motos

2022 Le Mans 24 Hour Qualifying

The first race of the FIM World Endurance Championship season, the 24 Heures Motos is being held in Le Mans this weekend, the round-the-clock endurance epic is an iconic race and will set the pecking order for this five-race FIM EWC calendar .

There are sixty points up for grabs during a 24-hour race in the EWC, and with three on the 2022 calendar, the teams are under no illusion of the importance of securing an excellent finish to get their season off to the best possible start.

Crowds are back this year

The 24 Heures Motos was the first outing last year for the newly-formed Yoshimura and SERT partnership, and their EWC championship onslaught got off to a perfect start. The reliability of the factory Suzuki GSX-R1000R, race skill of the riders and expertise of the crew all combined to take the team to an emphatic victory, setting them up for the season ahead.

FIM EWC contestants

Fast forward to 2022 and Gregg Black, Sylvain Guintoli and Xavier Simeon return to the 4.185km Bugatti Circuit for the 45th edition of the event as World Champions, with the team they know so well, and buoyed by positive feedback from early season testing. Another bonus is that, after a two-year hiatus, fans will return to pack out the grandstands.

The primary championship contenders for the different brands

The defending FIM World Endurance Champions qualified second overnight and Gregg Black will start the race for Yoshimura Sert Motul squad after also proving quickest of the team during the qualifying sessions.

For the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team and team manager Werner Daemen (BEL), this is the third season in the FIM EWC. The team, which finished second overall last year, is well prepared heading to the season-opener on the banks of the Sarthe. Ukraine’s Illya Mykhalchyk was the quicker than team-mates Jeremy Guarnoni and Markus Reiterberger during qualifying but it will be Reiterberger that will take the start line for the BMQ squad with third place on the grid from their combined times.

BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team

YART Yamaha wants to bounce back after a difficult 2021 season that saw them finish sixth overall in the standings after suffering from bad luck at crucial moments, despite consistently being the fastest team on the grid. Riders Nicola Canepa, Marvin Fritz, and Karel Hanika head to the Bugatti Circuit full of confidence after an excellent pre-season with the team, happy with the work done on the electronics and with the Bridgestone tires on the YART R1.

YART Yamaha
Karel Hanika – 1:34.878
(YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC)

I am very happy about my lap time! All three of us could have set the time, but I managed to find the perfect spot on track without traffic to set the time. The YART R1 with the Bridgestone tires worked perfectly, which is what allowed me to set such a fast time. It was down to all the hard work we did during the pre-season, and we showed during Free Practice with the race tires that we have a good pace and will be competitive during the race, which is the main thing. We need to use this advantage tomorrow during the race, try to be consistent, take it lap-by-lap and stay focused; then we can see where we are on Sunday morning.”

Karel Hanika

Last year they qualified on pole at Le Mans and looked strong before being forced to retire after a mechanical failure in ten hour while running in second. They will again start from pole this year after the team toppeding qualifying largely off the back of a stunning 1m34.878 set by Karel Hanika.

Karel Hanika
Nicolò Canepa
(YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC)

I’m really happy and I’m really proud of my team and my team-mates. Karel did an amazing lap time that was really impressive. We are in pole position, we are here and we have to be happy. We feel really good for the race. During the whole winter in the winter testing we did really well as a team and we feel good with the bike, we have a good pace and our target is to finish the race but I am confident we can fight for the victory. We believe we have the strongest machine to win the race. When I crashed, we checked the data and we saw there was a small problem on the brakes. I knew I was coming back to the pits so I was not pushing. I was really surprised to be on the floor but when I came back in we didn’t have any fresh tires so I had to put on a rear tire with more than 50 laps so it was impossible to improve my lap from yesterday and be in the 1m34s. But we are on pole, we are three riders and we did the pole and this is enough.”

Nicolò Canepa
Andrew Pitt
(YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC Crew Chief)

This is a special pole position! All of our riders were capable of doing a 1:34 lap time today, with the cooler conditions and new tires, especially when you look at the times they set in practice and preseason. It is never that easy in endurance racing, and with the traffic on track and some other issues, they didn’t get to show their true potential, but Karel showed what we are capable of. The real action starts with the race tomorrow at 3 pm. Our focus is to ensure that we finish, and we know with our pace that if we can avoid trouble, we will be in a solid position to fight for the victory. We have done all the hard work and tested all the different tire compounds to work out what is best depending on the temperature range, so we know what we need to use at what time, day or night. The whole team has been working so hard together; it has been great. Now we just need to get through the race cleanly and without any drama, and we can be fighting for victory at the end.

2017-18 FIM Endurance World Champions FCC TSR Honda will start from third place on the grid with Josh Hook in the hot seat when the lights go out for the opening stint on the Fireblade.

Josh Hook will start from third on the grid for FCC TSR Honda

Maco Racing Team’s Anthony West, Enzo Boulom, and Richard Bodis will be looking to record a top-ten finish after missing out by the slightest margin in 2020 and 2021, crossing the line in 11th both times. Boulom recorded the teams quickest time qualifying ahead of Westy but Bodis was a further three-seconds off the pace during his stint on the bike. Westy will start the race for the team from 14th place on the grid.

The Bugatti Circuit, located in Le Mans, France, was constructed in 1965 and featured on the EWC calendar for the first time in 1978. At 4.185km in length, with 14 corners (five left-handed, nine right-handed) and a straight of 674m, the circuit’s current layout has been in use since 2008. It features a mix of low, medium, and high-speed corners, heavy braking zones, elevation changes, fast changes of direction, and unpredictable weather conditions, making the track one of the most demanding on the calendar.

Le Mans 24 Hour Qualifying Results
Time is average of all riders

  1. YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC 1m35.080
  2. Yoshimura SERT Motul 1m35.404
  3. FCC TSR Honda France 1m35.435
  5. ERC Endurance Ducati 1m36.107
  6. Wójcik Racing Team EWC 77 1m36.711
  7. TEAM MOTO AIN 1m36.731
  13. Wójcik Racing Team STK 777 1m37.719
  14. MACO RACING Team 1m37.737
  15. Team LRP Poland 1m38.218
  16. TEAM LH RACING 1m38.254
  17. RAC41-CHROMEBURNER 1m38.419
  18. 3ART BEST OF BIKE 1m38.476
  19. BMRT 3D MAXXESS NEVERS 1m38.479
  20. TEAM 33 LOUIT APRIL MOTO 1m38.506

2022 FIM Endurance World Championship Calendar

  1. 24 Heures Motos: 16-17 April 2022
  2. 24H Spa EWC Motos: 4-5 June 2022
  3. Suzuka 8 Hours: 7 August 2022
  4. Bol d’Or: 17-18 September 2022
  5. 5th Event TBC

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