A sky-high 38 permanent EWC teams have registered for the 2023 season, which marks a 22 per cent increase compared to 2022. Of the 54-bike line-up assembling at Le Mans, a total of 37 permanent EWC teams will be in action split between the Formula EWC and Dunlop-equipped Superstock categories.
With 12 EWC world champions and 12 winners of the 24 Heures Motos taking part, there will be no shortage of talent taking to the 4.185-kilometre Circuit Bugatti during four days of intense track activity, which begins with Free Practice followed by First Qualifying on Thursday 13 April ahead of the race beginning at 15h00 CET on Saturday after Second Qualifying on Friday.
Multiple rider changes, teams switching bike manufacturers, plus new teams and riders entering the EWC for the first time – many of whom have MotoGP or World Superbike experience – has created an exciting unknown prior to the 2023 season getting underway.
The 24 Heures Motos is the first of four ultra-challenging day and night races featuring on the 2023 EWC calendar. Following the Le Mans season opener, the 24H SPA EWC Motos takes place in Belgium from 16-18 June, with the 43rd Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race in Japan up next from 4-6 August. The 24-hour Bol d’Or at Circuit Paul Ricard in France completes the 2023 EWC season from 14-17 September.
Mike Di Meglio, part of the F.C.C. TSR Honda France line-up that won the FIM Endurance World Championship in 2022, said: “In Le Mans if you need to find the way to ride with not too much pushing but with good riding. The most difficult thing in the night for me is because I sleep between my stints so when my manager is trying to wake me up this is the worst part of the night. But when I get on the bike I enjoy because the bike in the night is very fast, there is more power, the tyre is more stiff so you have more grip, you just need to adapt with the visibility. But Le Mans is a very good track and you can see very well. It’s not so difficult.”
Sylvain Guintoli, who is vying to help Yoshimura SERT Motul win the 24 Heures Motos for a third year running, said: “There’s no pressure on us to win three seasons in a row but we’ve been thinking and talking about it because it would be pretty cool to do that and not many people have. Cold temperatures is something you always have to expect at Le Mans and you’ve got to make the bike work and be efficient with the cold temperatures as well because it changes quite a lot, especially for the tyres.”
Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team rider Niccolò Canepa, said: “The only thing we need is to have more luck because we have all what we need to perform well and to be successful. We have a great team, great bike, great tyres, great team-mates so we are ready to fight, we just need luck. Myself I have trained a lot, I feel fit, I feel ready. In the last couple of years, it has been more difficult because before I get an injury during a winter test. Last year in January the screws and plates that I had in my ankle were taken out so that meant surgery again. It means this year is actually the first time in three years that I have been able to prepare the way I want for the season so I feel good and full of energy to start the season.”
STEINMAYR READY TO FIGHT HARD TO DEFEND SUPERSTOCK CROWN
Philipp Steinmayr won’t be able to back off as he bids to win the FIM Endurance World Cup for Superstock teams for the second season running. The Yamaha-powered Austrian, who partners new recruits Enzo De La Vega and Axel Maurin at Team 18 Sapeurs Pompiers CMS Motostore, is expecting plenty of tough competition in 2023: “Superstock is very competitive to be honest. Already last year you could see it was very close racing and also with the gaps in lap time. Having Dunlop as a mono-brand tyre supplier is a very good concept to make it as similar or as fair as possible for everyone. I expect this year it will even stronger because the championship is gaining momentum with more and more people and more and more riders entering. I can see from my colleagues in the IDM series that there are more and more riders coming to EWC and I expect it to be a really interesting season.” While Steinmayr is aiming for more Superstock category success, his 2022 team-mates Hugo Clere and Baptiste Guittet are graduating to Formula EWC with TATI Team Beringer Racing.
HANIKA ON A HIGH WITH SUB-LAP RECORD RUN AT EWC 24 HEURES MOTOS TEST
Karel Hanika will head to the 24 Heures Motos as the rider to beat after he completed an astonishing sub-lap record run for Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team during the final day of the Pre-Test for round one of the 2023 FIM EWC season (29 March). The Czech star, riding a Bridgestone-shod Yamaha YZF-R1 and backed up by team-mates Niccolò Canepa, Marvin Fritz and Robin Mulhauser, clocked a best effort of 1m34.759s around the 4.185-kilometre Circuit Bugatti, which eclipsed his record-breaking qualifying run of 1m34.878s set during last April’s 45th 24 Heures Motos. CLICK FOR FULL STORY.
RECOVERING HERO REA READY FOR PARADE LAP
Gino Rea, who was seriously injured in a practice crash ahead of the Suzuka Hours last June, will complete a Parade Lap shortly before the start of the 24 Heures Motos on Saturday. “It’s going to very exciting but very emotional because I want to be at Le Mans racing, that’s a given,” said Rea, who is recovering from serious head injuries. “I’ve seen people doing these Parade Laps before after they’ve come back from similar things. I’ve always looked up to them doing it and now it’s me doing it. I feel very appreciative that they’ve allowed me to do it. It’s going to be emotional for me because I can’t believe I’m going to be there and they’ve given me a Parade Lap. But the amount of people that know I’ve had this accident is quite mind-blowing really, I’ve had messages from famous motorcycle racers.” CLICK FOR FULL STORY.
More information is available at this link:
Key FIM EWC timings are as follows:
Thursday 13 April:
10h00-12h00: 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 14 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)
Saturday 15 April:
15h00: Start of 46th 24 Heures Motos
Sunday 16 April:
15h00: Finish of 45th 24 Heures Motos
LIVE TIMING: https://www.its-live.net/#/live/ewc/2023/24hmans
24 HEURES MOTOS IN 100 WORDS:
Following two years without spectators due to COVID-19 restrictions, fans were back in their thousands for the 45th edition in April 2022. And they witnessed a thriller with Suzuki-powered Gregg Black, Sylvain Guintoli and Xavier Siméon combining in style for Le Mans-based Yoshimura SERT Motul. Rather than the 13.626-kilometre Circuit de La Sarthe, the traditional EWC curtain-raiser takes place on the 4.185-kilometre Circuit Bugatti. It comes complete with the famous Le Mans start/finish straight, Dunlop Esses and Ford Chicane, while a twisty infield section ensures there’s little respite, nevertheless. Riders also face the prospect of competing during shorter daylight hours.
24 HEURES MOTOS FAST FACTS:
*The first 24 Heures Motos took place from 22-23 April 1978 with Jean-Claude Chemarin and Christian Léon riding a Honda to victory.
*It followed the Bol d’Or – the other French 24-hour classic bike race appearing on the EWC schedule – relocating to Circuit Paul Ricard after the 1977 event.
*However, event organiser, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, staged its first race for motorbikes in 1912, long before the Bugatti Circuit’s inauguration in September 1966.
*After starting at 14h00 local time in 2020 and 2021, the 2022 edition of the 24 Heures Motos was flagged-off at 15h00.
*As well as hosting the EWC, Circuit Bugatti is home to the MotoGP Grand Prix de France.
2022: Yoshimura SERT Motul (Gregg Black, Xavier Siméon, Sylvain Guintoli) 840 laps
2021: Yoshimura SERT Motul (Gregg Black, Xavier Siméon, Sylvain Guintoli) 855 laps
2020: F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Josh Hook, Freddy Foray, Mike De Meglio) 816 laps
2019: Team SRC Kawasaki France (Jérémy Guarnoni, David Checa, Erwan Nigon) 839 laps
2018: F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Josh Hook, Freddy Foray, Alan Techer) 843 laps