The Honda Endurance Racing team with Randy de Puniet, Sébastien Gimbert and Yonny Hernandez did fight to a illustrious heroic Le Mans 24 Heures Moto podium at the second round of the 2018/2019 FIM Endurance World Championship. The trio brought their Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 to the rostrum. The fight for the win was decided in the last three minutes only. With the #55 National Motos Honda (Emeric Jonchiere, Stéphane Egea, Baptiste Guittet) another CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 entering the top-8.
The Honda Endurance Racing team entered the podium of the 42nd edition of the 24 Heures Motos of Le Mans. For the second round of the 2018/2019 FIM Endurance World Championship, Randy de Puniet, Sébastien Gimbert and Yonny Hernandez fought to a heroic runner-up position after a gruelling full day distance.
After leading the race in the opening stages, the rear light broke lose and had to be fixed including a switch of the circuit. This was managed with a loss of only a bit over three minutes.
The team then headed out on track again, taking on the battle down in 11th position. But the Fireblade trio of de Puniet, Hernandez and Gimbert never gave up and soon were not only fighting for the podium positions again, but closed in to the leaders.
Even a small crash for de Puniet could not hinder the team making its way back up the ranks. De Puniet was lucky to escape from his crash with neither him nor the Fireblade SP2 taking damage. He was able to continue without having to pit in for repairs.
During the night, the team mostly relied on de Puniet, sending him out every second stint. The former MotoGP rider didn’t disappoint and shortly after 7 o’clock in the morning he rode the fastest lap of the race in 1’36.819 minutes.
The Honda Endurance Racing team was constantly the fastest team on track, making up those almost four lost minutes due to the repair and the small crash. The morning hours saw the #111 Fireblade constantly swapping positions with their opponents for the win and the podium.
In the end the race turned out to be what will be remembered of one of the closest and most exciting races in the history of Endurance racing with Honda Endurance Racing taking the second spot behind SRC Kawasaki, in what where the last three minutes of the race.
The team had to come in to the pits for a ‘splash-and-dash’ refuelling, not to risk the result on the rostrum, and with that sadly handed the top step of the podium to the opponents. Not even a 10-minute safety car, 15 minutes to the end of the race would had made the dream of the 24 Heures Moto win happen. Still second is a big achievement for the team, which started with a completely new crew and a new evolution of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.
It was also a strong race for National Motos Honda on the #55 Fireblade. The trio of Emeric Jonchiere, Stéphane Egea and Baptiste Guittet had started in 25th position and ended up deep into the top-10 by scoring an eighth place finish.
Reigning endurance world champions F.C.C. TSR Honda France, didn’t get any luck at this year’s Le Mans as Mike di Meglio encountered an early crash, throwing the team back to the end of the field. The Fireblade was repaired in record braking time to send the trio of di Meglio, Freddy Foray and Josh Hook back out on track to put their pursuit race up.
F.C.C. TSR Honda France had just fought back to eighth in the race ranking as they encountered another issue, in which the complete brake system had to be changed and replaced. The squad went back out on track just for Foray to collide with another rider in a racing incident. The bike slid along the track and that made damage to the engine’s cover where oil was lost. The team still kept working hard to not only fix the hole, but to replace inner parts as well which meant another loss of two hours in the pits.
The team even then never gave up and sent the bike back out with no chance of having a shot for world championship points but to “fulfil” the spirit of endurance by finishing the race – and so did F.C.C. TSR Honda France in 35th spot in the official ranking of the race.