SUZUKI GRAB ENDURANCE CROWN AFTER HEARTBREAK FOR YAMAHA
Series goes down to the wire as French squad wins title by a single point
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