The French-based Yamaha GMT 94 of David Checa, Sébastien Gimbert and Olivier Four won the Bol d’Or at Magny Cours race by seven laps ahead of the Suzuki Endurance Racing team one, and 10 laps ahead of the Suzuki Endurance Racing team two in an incredibly tight race.
It was the first race victory for the GMT 94, who were World Endurance Champions in 2004 in this event.
Despite the Suzuki 1 missing out on race victory, the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team clinched the QMMF Endurance World Championship 2007.
With the Kawasaki number 11, second in the World Championship classification, not finishing the race, the Suzuki number one has an advantage of 60 points enabling them to claim the World title before the last event, the Doha Eight Hours in Qatar in November.
Yamaha Phase One Endurance finished fourth, their best result so far of what has been a very difficult season for the English team. Phase One moved up in the overall standings to sixth position. Yamaha Acropolis Moto Expert completed the top five Bol d’Or finishers just ahead of Honda National Motos.
The race was one of the toughest of recent years, with only half of the 57 starters finishing but team manager Russell Benney said: “This is a good way to finish the European part of the season. We’ve shown great competitiveness all year, improving our times at every circuit we’ve been to.
“At Magny Cours we’ve improved by as much as three seconds; an absolutely staggering amount when you consider how tough this field is.
“It was great to be competitive again, but this time we’ve put the result together. It’s been promise, promise, promise at all the other circuits but at this one we’ve actually delivered. Realistically, fourth place was probably as good as we could get; two factory bikes and GMT94 in front of us. I’m very happy indeed with this result.”
The final positions looked to be very different just minutes before the finish. At 2.30pm, the then fifth-placed Kawasaki Bolliger Switzerland were forced to retire after a spectacular crash from Horst Saiger at the exit of the stands.
This 71st Bol d’Or proved to be one of surprises right up until the final moments, with none of the main contenders escaping the 24-hour race without some kind of incident.
The race leaders changed places several times in the first two hours from the start. The two official Suzuki teams and the Yamaha GMT 94 shared the lead at various times until Olivier Four crashed on his GMT 94 around 5pm.
Then the Kawasaki France 11, which had been delayed by a stop-and-go penalty at the start of the race, dropped to the back of the race having run out of fuel. The race continued to be full of incidents.
At 7.30pm, Julien Da Costa collided with another rider and crashed his Suzuki number one at the head of the race. The Suzuki one rejoined the official Kawasaki back in 30th place, thirteen laps behind the Suzuki two which was in the lead ahead of the Yamaha GMT 94, to rapidly gain places after the crash.
The night was the end for the two official Kawasakis. Relatively lucky at the start of the race, the Kawasaki Maccio 111 was third behind the Suzuki two and the Yamaha GMT 94 at just after the 23-hour stage.
The Kawasaki machine had moved back into ninth place and was ten laps behind the lead Suzuki when Jehan d’Orgeix fell. But despite launching a valiant effort to get back up front, the Kawasaki 11 and 111 were forced to retire with mechanical problems – the 11 with a broken rod, and the 111 with a broken gear box.
In the early hours of this morning, the lead was being fought between the Suzuki two and the Yamaha GMT 94. At 9am, the Yamaha 94 finally managed to move ahead after the long and entertaining duel with the Suzuki two.
Guillaume Dietrich’s crash on the Suzuki two moved the team four to five laps behind the leading Yamaha 94. Shortly after midday the Suzuki two had climbed back to third place ahead of the Yamaha Phase One Endurance.
Moto Endurance 38 finished seventh and first Superproduction, just in front of the Junior Team Suzuki LMS in eighth, and first Superstock. Among the permanent teams who finished in the points were Endurance Moto 45, eleventh overall and second Superstock, and RT Racing Team and Moto Virus who finished 15th.
The other permanent teams were less fortunate. Yamaha Austria Racing Team, who at 19:00 hours were third behind the two Suzukis, had to pull out due to a broken engine. The Honda RMT 21, which was in an impressive 10th place, was forced to retire with clutch problems. The Honda FCC TSR Eurosport Benelux dropped out with brake problems.
Yamaha Zone Rouge Belgique pulled out of the race at 6pm after two crashes and broken cylinder head gasket.
Kawasaki Diablo Bolliger was let down by problems with its gear box. Maco Moto Racing Team also dropped out with mechanical problems. A broken engine also forced the Kawasaki Qatar Endurance Racing Team to retire in the early hours of the morning, and Raffin Motos just after midday.
The next and final round of the QMMF Endurance World Championship, the Doha Eight Hours will take place on November 10, 2007 in Qatar.
1 94: YAMAHA GMT94 - SBK - Checa, Gimbert, Four, YAMAHA R1 - 801 laps
2 1: SUZUKI ENDURANCE RACING TEAM - SBK - Philippe, Lagrive, Da Costa, Suzuki GSX-R1000 - 794 laps
3 2: SUZUKI ENDURANCE RACING TEAM - SBK - Costes, Dietrich, Neukirchner, Suzuki GSX-R1000 - 791 laps
4 3: YAMAHA PHASE ONE ENDURANCE - SBK - Nowland, Richards, Vallcaneras, Yamaha R1 - 789 laps
5 99: ACROPOLIS MOTO EXPERT - SBK - Fremy, Fastre, Leblanc, Yamaha R1 - 782 laps