A Flying Start
For the sixth time in its history, the SRC Kawasaki team finished 24 Hours of Le Mans motorcycle race in the lead. A hard-won success over the crew of the Honda Endurance Racing team.
Until five minutes from the chequered flag, the outcome of the race remained uncertain. A last lap by the safety car even completely confused the issue fifteen minutes from the finish … And then the Honda 111 rushed into the pits for a last refuel, releasing Jeremy Guarnoni with a last shot of pressure. Leading from the fourth hour onwards, Gilles Stafler’s riders managed to keep their first place until the end of the 24-hour race. “This is our sixth win at Le Mans, perhaps one of the toughest,” said the Kawasaki SRC team boss. The three Safety Cars that we had at the start of the race made us lose a half lap each time, but the fighters did not give up.” Despite Randy de Puniet’s replacement by Erwan Nigon since the last Bol d’Or event, the Kawasaki SRC team has not lost any of its effectiveness. “We welded together like a block during the winter test sessions,” noted the French rider from Auvergne now back in green. The race went on an incredible pace, but we didn’t make a mistake and the bike held up.” Under pressure from the Honda 111 in the last two hours of the race, the Kawasaki 11 team did better than resist. “We had a plan for the end of the race,” explains Gilles Stafler. “Jeremy was very tired, but he was the fastest. So the physiotherapist got him back on his feet and he was able to take over forty minutes from the finish to catch up with the Honda, even if we knew it was going to have to refuel before the chequered flag. I didn’t want to lose this victory.” Mission accomplished for the Kawasaki SRC team, which has also taken over the world championship with sixteen points ahead of the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team.