Reigning FIM Endurance World Champions, SERT, dominated to victory in the 44th edition of the 24 Heures Motos in France thanks to a perfect performance from Gregg Black, Xavier Simeon and Sylvain Guintoli.
The start of the 2021 EWC series got underway in beautiful conditions, but from pole position, YART Yamaha, in the hands of Karel Hanika, stalled on the line and handed SERT the early lead. After the opening safety car period, brought out following a nasty turn three collision between the Wojcik Yamaha and two other machines, Hanika had worked his way up to the rear wheel of the Suzuki, where the team stayed up until the third hour.
Admitting their R1 was struggling with the hotter temperatures, Niccoló Canepa took the lead in the pit stop, but lost the lead midway through his opening stint to Frenchman Guintoli. However, a small mistake at the Chemin aux Bœufs handed YART the lead once again.
The battle continued on long into the race and fans were awarded with a thrilling head-to-head between the reigning and vice champions. With Gregg Black and Karel Hanika back onboard, the pair began battling for the lead of the race. Despite a few close calls, Hanika got the lead but pit a lap earlier than the Suzuki squad, handing the advantage back to the Yoshimura side once again in a race that was toing and froing between the two greats.
With the hammer down, Suzuki stretched their advantage to over 30 seconds, but as the sun started to drop, YART began closing the gap. But disaster strook, just as YART looked to have the momentum they suffered a mechanical problem which forced them to retire from the event, ten hours into the race, costing them valuable points.
With SERT a comfortable five laps in front of the Honda in second place, barring any errors the race was theirs. A controlled ride through the night saw them extend their advantage to eight laps after a fuel issue and a crash took the F.C.C TSR Honda team out of podium contention.
The BMW Motorrad team running Markus Reiterberger, Xavi Fores and Illya Mykhalchyk had recovered from an early crash which dropped them out of the top 25 to run third as the final hour drew in.
SERT Suzuki eventually crossed the line 8 laps ahead of Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar and the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team to take the lead of the standings by 16 points.
Bolliger Team Switzerland’s race ended in heartbreak after being stripped of their fourth place finish hours after the checkered flag. The team was found to be running a fuel tank larger than the maximum allowance.
The first Honda and Superstock winner National Motos finished in 5th place.
Featured image: FIM EWC