Friday, April 23

KAWASAKI WINS LE MANS

KAWASAKI's ZX-10R won the Le Mans 24-Hour race on April 18, the first round of the 2010 Qtel FIM Endurance World Endurance Championship. The winning Pirelli-shod GSR Kawasaki of Julien da Costa, Olivier Four and Grégory Leblanc covered 828 laps of the 4.185 km Bugatti circuit, a distance of 3465.18 km - averaging 144.38 km/h (including pit stops for re-fuelling, fresh tyres and brake pads, and rider changes).

The GSR Kawasaki team set the tone by taking the Superpole after leading all the qualifying sessions.

The three Kawasaki riders raced the entire 24 hours on standard Pirelli tyres: a Diablo Superbike SC2 at the front and SC1 on the rear.

The GSR Kawasaki ZX-10R was 11 laps ahead the second placed team, the Michelin-shod reigning World Champion Yamaha Austria Racing Team YZFR-R1 which was piloted by Gwen Giabbani, Igor Jerman and Steve Plater. The Yamaha started over-heated during the night, forcing them to make several unscheduled pit stops.

Third place went to the privateer RAC 41 City Bike Suzuki GSX-R1000 ridden by Gregory Junod, Greg Black and Olivier Depoorter. They were four laps behind the struggling second-placed Yamaha. The Suzuki ran on Dunlop tyres.

And to make it four tyre brands in the first four, the next bike home, the Yamaha France GMT 94 Ipone YZF-R1 was running on some new Bridgestones.

The fancied multi-world championship winning SERT Suzuki team was out after two hours and the podium challenging Bolliger Kawasaki team had clutch trouble while the National Motos Honda CBR1000 had to deal with numerous mechanical problems, a crash and finally a fire during one of the pit stops.

Kawasaki's ouotright victory was the first time the green team had won the gruelling French classic since 1999. Eleven years ago, the winning Kawasaki was a ZX-7RR and was piloted by Frenchman Bertrand Sebileau and British riders Steve Hislop and Chris Walker.

Kawasaki has now won nine Le Mans 24-hours in the 33 years of the event.

The first Le Mans 24-Hour win for Kawasaki (as opposed the the Bol d'Or 24-Hour that was run at Le Mans until 1978) was in 1981 when Jean Claude-Chemarin and Christian Hugeut teamed up on a SIEMM Kawasaki Z1000J powered racer.

May 22 is when the second round of the 2010 Qtel FIM Endurance World Championship takes place, when Spain hosts the 8 Hours of Albacete.