Honda Endurance Racing is celebrating this evening after completing the Bol d’Or on the podium in third place. Kicking off the 2017/2018 FIM Endurance World Championship in spectacular style Honda and its riders Gregory LeBlanc, Sébastien Gimbert and Yonny Hernandez finished the 24-hour race with a dramatic final few laps, aboard the new 2017 Fireblade SP2.
The race got underway at 1500hrs local time yesterday (Saturday 16 September) and it was LeBlanc who made the running start for the team after qualifying in fifth position. During the opening stages of the race the riders pushed hard and it wasn’t long until the team were battling with the top group.
LeBlanc and Gimbert have a vast amount of endurance experience between them, but it was Hernandez, an EWC rookie, who impressed both the team and his team-mates with his fast learning of the circuit and speed, to battle with the experienced endurance field during his stints aboard the CBR.
By the eight-hour point Honda Endurance Racing were in fourth position and collected its first championship points of the year, which are rewarded at both the eight and 16-hour marker for teams in the top-ten. With seven points already under their belts and a desire for the podium the team pushed on throughout the night.
With a faultless performance throughout the night stages from the riders and also the pit crew, the Honda team saw the sun come up over the Circuit Paul Ricard in third place. By now the 16-hour mark was looming and a further seven points were awarded to the team who had dropped back to fourth place.
Looking strong and running in second place, with 578 laps of the 5.791km circuit completed, the team had to make an unscheduled stop due to an electrical problem, which reoccurred a couple of times over the next few hours. With persistent hard work from the Honda crew the problems were eventually sorted and it was Hernandez who returned to the race and started to make up lost time.
However drama for the team was not quite over. With one hour left, Gimbert would be the rider to finish the 24 hours and rejoining in fourth position he set his sights on the final podium spot. Pushing the Fireblade as hard as he could and not missing a beat, the CBR responded meaning he was able to close down third place.
The final 20 minutes were a nail-biting affair for the Honda crew, who watched on as Gimbert quickly upped his pace and lap-by-lap was making progress. With the team, alongside LeBlanc and Hernandez watching on, endurance specialist Gimbert made his lunge on third place.
Trading paint with his third-place rival, it was Gimbert who pulled the pin and took the final podium place for Honda Endurance Racing after the team completed 673 laps and covered just under 4,000-km over 24 hours.
Having secured a big points haul this weekend, Honda Endurance Racing is currently sitting third in the 2017/2018 FIM Endurance World Championship and the team looks forward to continuing to push towards the championship when they return to France next year for the 24 Heures Motors (21-24 April 2018).