Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team’s Mandy Kainz has reflected on his squad’s capture of the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship, describing the wait for success as “like being 10 years in the desert and then you find paradise”.
YART Team Manager Kainz was on hand to guide riders Niccolò Canepa, Marvin Fritz and Karel Hanika to the coveted EWC title during a dramatic Bol d’Or season finale at Circuit Paul Ricard, which finished yesterday (Sunday).
The Austrian outfit was one of six teams in EWC title contention starting the legendary 24-hour event in southern France, albeit 14 points behind F.C.C. TSR Honda France.
It came through a fraught period on Sunday morning, the result of a temperature issue that required several unscheduled pitstops, until it was rectified by the team’s mechanics ahead of the final two hours of action.
But with its main rivals either dropping out (F.C.C. TSR Honda France) or dropping out of contention (BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team), YART essentially needed a top-nine Formula EWC finish to secure the FIM Endurance World Championship’s biggest prize, making its troubles on Sunday morning particularly worrying.
With its riders performing faultlessly, having benefitted from an inspired tyre call for the opening stint on Saturday afternoon and safe in the knowledge the #7 Bridgestone-equipped entry was working as it should in the closing stages, fourth place was sufficient to take the title.
“We were so many championships so close but always something happened, even we lost one tile in the last hour,” said Kainz. “It’s very relieving to be honest and the feeling is the same as being 10 years in the desert and then you find paradise.”
YART’s title triumph followed a podium finish in the 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans in April and victory in the 24H SPA EWC Motos in June, when ended the team’s wait for a win in a 24-hour EWC event.
“We worked a lot on the reliability of our bike and it was 14 years since the first time we finished every race,” Kainz said. “The bike was very conservative because we just built it to survive. But the boys are the heroes because they managed, they lost six to seven tenths on the straights, just to be sure our bike could do it because there is no test for a 24-hour race, the race is the test.
“I’m really happy for these boys because they were leading every single race in the championship. In Le Mans we just had a problem when we crashed on the oil. Spa was for us a perfect race even with some difficulties. In Suzuka we were so close and then for a very small part we were close to retire. But the race made me very proud because the boys did not give up and were fighting from last position and lapped close to 50 per cent of the field. Even to the winner, HRC, they made one and a half laps during the remaining six hours. So for me they are real endurance riders and fighters and they deserve it so much.”
NICCOLÒ CANEPA: “WE HAD ONLY ONE GOAL, TO WIN THE WORLD TITLE”
Italian Canepa, 35, said: “This is an amazing feeling to share these emotions with my amazing team-mates and the YART team because from the first moment that we star racing together we had only one goal and that was to win the world championship. From every session, every lap, every race, every moment, every stint when we put our helmet on and ride the bike we had only this goal in our head and we push to the limit every single time for this. When we were in a comfortable position, we knew that in endurance something can happen and the problem is around the corner. We always had to push, push, push to prevent any problem and try to find ourselves in a good spot to win the race or bring home this amazing medal.”
MARVIN FRITZ: “IT WAS THE LONGEST SEVEN HOURS OF OUR LIVES”
German Fritz, 30, said: “It was a tough race and for sure the toughest of all the year because we knew what was on the line and what we can achieve to get our dream to come true. It was a hard race with difficult circumstances. On the start we made a really good decision to send Niccolò immediately on slicks, which was good. In the end it was the longest seven hours of our lives with this problem that we had. But the team made an amazing job and they found the problem and the last two and a half hours the bike was again working perfect. I want to say a big thanks to Mandy who was always believing in me and believing in us. Each single person from the team deserves this world championship title so much, they worked their asses off over the winter. And a big thanks to my amazing team-mates, I can’t imagine to have better team-mates than them.”
KAREL HANIKA: “IT’S AN AMAZING FEELING TO BE WORLD CHAMPION”
Czech Karel Hanika, 27, said: “It’s an amazing feeling to be world champion. I would say a big thanks to Mandy to bring me in the team back in 2020. I’m really grateful to him and the Bridgestone family and the Yamaha family to be part of this team. And to my two amazing team-mates who worked very hard during the winter and in all the tests to make the bike as good as possible. They always ride 100 per cent in every stint so we are a perfect trio I guess. Last year and two years ago we really deserved the championship, but it was not meant to be but finally, this year, it’s come for us and I’m really happy to be part of this team. Today was difficult in the race, definitely, but it would have been hard to fight with SERT because they were super-strong. We choose to stay on the second position but then, unfortunately, we had a problem with the overheating. But the guys did an amazing job fixing that issue and I was proud we could bring the bike to the finish line.”