Se­ries goes down to the wire as French squad wins ti­tle by a sin­gle point

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - By Si­mon Pat­ter­son MO­TOGP RE­PORTER

The French- ba s ed Suzuki En­durance Rac­ing Team – with rid­ers Vin­cent Philippe, An­thony Del­halle and Eti­enne Mas­son – have taken their 15th world cham­pi­onship ti­tle, snatch­ing the 2016 ti­tle from race win­ners GMT94 Yamaha at the fi­nal round of the sea­son at the Osch­er­sleben 8-Hour – by just a sin­gle point.

And it was heart­break for the Yamaha Aus­tria Race Team, as they saw the ti­tle slip from their grasp only hours from the end of the cam­paign, as a dis­as­trous week­end cul­mi­nated in a tech­ni­cal prob­lem drop­ping them from the race win - and the cham­pi­onship bat­tle.

Go­ing into the week­end as one of seven squads ca­pa­ble of bat­tling for vic­tory, their bad luck started in free prac­tice, when a col­li­sion with a slower rider saw Bradley Smith out with knee in­juries (see page 72) .

And while Smith’s team-mates, MCE Bri­tish Su­per­bike reg­u­lar Broc Parkes and lo­cal rider Marvin Fritz were able to rise to the chal­lenge with an im­pres­sive ride that saw them hold the lead for most of the race, fur­ther trou­ble struck with only two hours left.

“It was re­ally dis­ap­point­ing be­cause we showed from qual­i­fy­ing that we had the pace to win and we did a great job un­til the sixth hour while we were lead­ing the race,” ex­plained Parkes. “We chose to do it with two rid­ers, Marvin and I, and we had a good pace. We knew that to win the cham­pi­onship we only needed to fin­ish sec­ond to GMT94 so we just wanted to keep the lead.

“If GMT94 had passed us, it wouldn’t have been a big prob­lem, but un­for­tu­nately we had a tech­ni­cal is­sue, which was a ma­jor bum­mer be­cause we were two hours from home. It’s sad for the team and for us, be­cause we were so close to be­ing World Cham­pi­ons.”

And while SERT were able to cap­i­talise on their mis­for­tune, the ti­tle race still came right down to the wire, with the Suzuki team tak­ing the crown by only a sin­gle point from GMT94.

How­ever, there was some con­sol­i­da­tion for Yamaha, with GMT94 rider Lu­cas Mahias pick­ing up the rid­ers’ ti­tle and both teams’ suc­cesses hand­ing Yamaha the con­struc­tors crown.

The new EWC sea­son will now get un­der­way again al­most right away, with the cham­pi­onship switch­ing to a win­ter se­ries by kick­ing off again at next month’s Bol d’or.

‘Un­for­tu­nately we had a tech­ni­cal is­sue, which was a ma­jor bum­mer’ BROC PARKES

Suzuki came out on top by the nar­row­est of mar­gins

Philippe, Del­halle and Mas­son cel­e­brate their ti­tle glory

Fast fuelling through the night from the Suzuki squad

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