Le Mans 24-hour: Race weekend preview

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Picture: EWC

2022 FIM Endurance World Championship action kicks off this weekend with the 45th edition 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans.

Six months since 2021’s finale was decided by 0.070 seconds, the ultimate test of rider and machine is back on track in France for the first of three day and night races on the calendar for 2022 - along with the returning 24H SPA EWC Motos at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and the centenary edition of the Bol d’Or at Circuit Paul Ricard.

Using the 4.185-kilometre Bugatti Circuit, the 24 Heures Motos promises to be an action-packed contest with a three-year-high 52-bike entry featuring 13 riders who have been part of FIM Endurance World Championship-winning line-ups.

Open to fans once again after two years of COVID-19 restrictions, the 24 Heures Motos matches its four-wheeled equivalent for atmosphere, while winning carries the same kudos, as well as the crucial championship points.

Last year’s event, held in mid-June, ended with a home victory for the Yoshimura SERT Motul team, which is based a short distance from the Le Mans paddock and claimed the FIM Endurance World Championship crown at the end of the season.

Returning to its traditional April date will increase the challenge facing the riders, teams and tyre manufacturers, particularly due to the prospect of changeable weather, less daylight and the chance of colder ambient and ground temperatures as local hero Louis Rossi explained: “The weather is always the question. At Le Mans it can be good one day and the next it can be dramatic. You have to adapt in every situation and the night is a difficult moment because you have to adapt to the cold conditions. But this is the 24 hours and it’s part of this spectacular race.

“If it’s cold it’s very physical because you have a lot of tension and you are quite tired and you have to try to manage your brain and your body to be fit during all night. Then, after the sun starts to come up, you regain some energy to finish the race. But for sure the end of the night is every time a challenging moment.

“But it’s a mythical race, especially for me because I was born in Le Mans and I live in Le Mans so it’s a very special track for me. I like the atmosphere and for sure the comeback of the public is great for everybody. We can’t wait for the race to happen.”

This season’s 24 Heures Motos is the 45th edition of the event and the second year running as the FIM EWC season opener. The first 24 Heures Motos took place from 22-23 April 1978 with Jean-Claude Chemarin and Christian Léon riding a Honda to victory.

The race is scheduled to be flagged-off at 15h00 on Saturday 16th April.

PROVISIONAL TIMETABLE
Thursday 14 April:

09h45-11h45: Free Practice

16h00-16h20: First Qualifying (Blue Rider)

16h30-16h50: First Qualifying (Yellow Rider)

17h00-17h20: First Qualifying (Red Rider)

17h30-17h50: First Qualifying (Green Rider)

20h30-22h00: Night Practice

Friday 15 April:

10h20-10h40: Second Qualifying (Blue Rider)

10h50-11h10: Second Qualifying (Yellow Rider)
11h20-11h40: Second Qualifying (Red Rider)

11h50-12h10: Second Qualifying (Green Rider)

12h45: Post-Qualifying digital press conference

Saturday 16 April:
09h45: Warm-up

15h00: Start of 45th 24 Heures Motos


Sunday 17 April:

15h00: Finish of 45th 24 Heures Motos


15h05: Podium


15h30: Post-race digital press conference

Live timing can be found at https://www.its-live.net/#/live/ewc/2022