The second qualifying round of the 24 Heures Motos took place this Friday morning. Like yesterday, the first drivers (blue bracelets) were measured against the 2nd, 3rd and 4th drivers (yellow, red and green bracelets respectively), each group of drivers having 20 minutes to break the times.
A Yamaha #101 crash marked the beginning of this second qualifying session. His pilot, the Austrian Gerold Gesslbauer, got up unharmed, leaving the pack to fight. Hook (#5 Honda), Reiterberger (#37 BMW) and Hanika (#7 Yamaha) placed in that order at the midpoint, posting significantly better lap times than the day before. Former MotoGP rider and current Canal+ advisor Randy de Puniet struggled on the handlebars of a #11 Kawasaki, still reluctant to lead since he got off the truck.
With seven minutes to go, Karel Hanika opened the fight by consecutively setting two new track records in 1’35”337, then 1’35”066. Gregg Black followed him in 1’35”272 over his Suzuki defense. Untethered, the Czech rider hit the nail on the head at the end of the session, posting an exceptional 1’34”878 on his #7 Yamaha.
The second part of qualifying was initially dominated by the #37 BMW driven by Illya Mykhalchyk. The session was interrupted after David Perret crashed at the Dunlop corner. In this high-speed drop, the #9 BMW broke and its fork tore off. David Perret was evacuated, conscious and with his thumbs up, on a stretcher.
There were just over twelve minutes left in the restart. Léonard Vignat crashed on his first fastest lap (Kawasaki #56). Shortly after, it was Javier Forés who made a mistake (Ducati nº6) before taking his machine back to the pits. No mistake on the contrary for Gino Rea (Honda #5), best time in 1’35”186, or Marvin Fritz (Yamaha #7), 2nd in 1’35”282.
After clocking seven thousandths for the first time the day before, Niccolò Canepa lost control of the #7 Yamaha at the Chapelle corner. Initially, it was Mike di Meglio (Honda #5) who, with 1’35.683, was the fastest in this session, generally slower than the first two.
But Sylvain Guintoli went into overdrive 5 minutes from the end, in 1’35”535 (Suzuki #1). Not enough to dethrone Yart Yamaha Official Team EWC’s #7 Yamaha of the Hanika/Fritz/Canepa trio.
One motorcycle did not participate in this session, as the Falcon Racing team decided to keep their #121 Yamaha for the race.
Before leaving at 3:00 p.m., the 24 Heures Motos competitors will meet tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. for the last practice session, the traditional warm-up (45 minutes).
Top 5 of the general classification (cumulative qualifying sessions):
- Yamaha #7 – Yart Yamaha EWC Official Team
- Suzuki #1 –Yoshimura Sert Motul
- Honda #5 – FCC TSR Honda France
- BMW #37 – BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team
- Ducati #6 – ERC Endurance Ducati
Top 3 Superstock (cumulative qualifying sessions):
- Yamaha #18 – Team 18 Firefighters CMS Motostore
- Honda #55 – National Honda Motorcycles
- Yamaha #94 – LH Racing Team