2022 Bol d’Or: YART Yamaha sit second for title decider

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Picture: Yamaha Racing

Yamalube YART Yamaha claimed a second place start for the 85th edition of the historic Bol d’Or from Circuit Paul Ricard this weekend.

Despite Thursday’s free practice sessions delayed by multiple red flags, and a technical issue for Karel Hanika in Friday’s final qualifying outing, the combined efforts of Niccolò Canepa and Marvin Fritz were enough to secure second behind BMW for the final race of the 2022 Endurance World Championship. Their average time - a 1’51.883 - less than a quarter of a second shy of Ilya Mikhalchik’s new lap record gave the Yamaha squad four championship points ahead of the 70 on offer in Saturday’s race.

“We are delighted with qualifying, as we finished ahead of our championship rivals and managed to close the gap,” Canepa confirmed from France on Friday. “It may not be much, but it is a great start to the race weekend. The most important thing is that our race pace looks really good, and we are fast at night.

“Honestly, the bike is working perfectly, and the tyres are working perfectly, so we are confident heading into tomorrow’s race. As always, we will aim to finish the race as strongly as possible, scoring as many points as we can, and then we will see what happens with the championship.”

“We have been strong here since the Pre-Test, and we have been improving step by step all week,” Fritz added. “We feel really good on the long runs, the Bridgestone tyres are also working great, and I think the temperature will play into our hands too.

“Second is not what we were aiming for, of course, we wanted pole position, but it is more important to feel comfortable on the bike and be ready for the race. The team is working great, we still have some more things to work on for tomorrow, but I think we are more prepared than ever. Our aim is to win the race, but the most important thing is to finish, as the most points are awarded after 24 hours, and then we can see what happens with the championship.”

“We have covered all bases and are ready to race,” Crew Chief Andrew Pitt concluded. “We are happy, the race pace is good, the boys have been happy with their long runs, and everything is working well, but you never know what can happen in a 24-hour race. We have the pace and the package to win the race, but we have to finish it first; that’s the key point.

“We are obviously a little disappointed to miss out on pole position and one extra point. I think we could have got it too, but on Karel’s last run, he had a slight issue with a sensor that meant he had no electronics, so to set a 1:52.1 with no assistance from the electronic aids is pretty awesome. We have already clawed back one point on our main title rival, so let’s see how many we can get during the race and where that leaves us in the championship.”