Suzuki Endurance Racing Team will race in a new and striking anniversary livery at tomorrow‰Ûªs final round of the Endurance World Championship, the Bol d‰ÛªOr 24-Hour race, at Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of France.
The current world championship leaders have painted the team‰Ûªs GSX-R1000 in the classic light-blue-and-white racing colour-scheme for its home round to celebrate 30 years of Suzuki‰Ûªs class-leading GSX-R range of machinery; and also in celebration of 35 years of Dominique Meliand‰Ûªs legendary Le Mans-based team.
Following yesterday‰Ûªs preliminary practice and opening qualifying sessions, the 13-time World Champions positioned fifth in today‰Ûªs final combined times as less-than-a-second separated the top seven teams at the picturesque 5.8 km Le Castellet circuit on the Marseilles coastline that features a 1.8-km-long, 320 kph flat-out straight.
SERT riders Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Etienne Masson go into tomorrow‰Ûªs race with a 23-point advantage over Yamaha GMT94, but as the event is run over 24 hours, the points awarded differ to previous races such as the Suzuka 8-Hour event in Japan and the Oschersleben 8-Hour race in Germany
With total of 60 points up for grabs - 40 for the race winner, plus 10 bonus-points for the leader at the eighth and 16th hours ‰ÛÒ in theory the series could be won by any of three EWC teams; SERT, Yamaha GMT94 and Bolliger Switzerland Kawasaki (55 points behind). However, adding to the excitement of the series finale, reigning Superstock World Cup Champions and current Superstock class leaders Junior Team LMS Suzuki, currently fourth in the overall points, could make history; an outside chance, but a possibility of turning the series on its head as the Le Mans-based team ‰ÛÒ who work from the same headquarters as SERT - has scored 54 points to date, despite missing Suzuka as there was no Superstock class; and are 56-points behind leaders SERT.
Today‰Ûªs qualifying saw Philippe set a time of 1:59.762 to give him fourth overall in his session, as SRC Kawasaki topped the timesheets. Delhalle went faster in the second session with a 1:59.332 to place him third behind Monster YART, while Masson put-in a best-lap of 1:59.772 for sixth position in his session, again topped by the SRC Kawasaki.
Combined, SERT‰Ûªs time is 1:59.551 with pole-setters SRC Kawasaki on 1:58.278. SERT also has Australian Damian Cudlin ‰ÛÒ its 2014 permanent team member ‰ÛÒ back onboard this weekend as its fourth and reserve rider; and he set a very respectable time of 2:01.468 for fourth position in his qualifying session.
Junior Team LMS riders Baptise Guittet, Gregg Black and Romain Maitre put their GSX-R1000 into second position in the Superstock class with a combined time of 2:00.274 and will start tomorrow‰Ûªs 79th edition of the Bol d‰ÛªOr from eighth position on the grid.