Suzuki Endurance Racing Team jumped into the lead of the Endurance World Championship following a brilliant performance to finish second in the third round of five at the Slovakia Ring 8 Hours in Slovakia on Saturday.
The 15-times World Champions, run by Dominique Méliand – Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Gregg Black – put the GSX-R1000 into a 10-point lead over previous series leaders, SRC Kawasaki France, were forced out of the race.
The riders did not face any real issues on the tricky Slovakian circuit, where sunny weather alternated with rainy conditions, where Black set-up the pace from the beginning of the race and fastest off the grid, leading the race for several laps, and then strategically placing himself a few positions behind the leader.
Vincent Philippe: “It was a difficult race, but we could manage it cleverly until the end. We finished with a great result and are now leading the championship. We are now very confident for next rounds.”
Etienne Masson: “I was one of the first to ride on slick tyres when the rain stopped. It was difficult at the beginning, but it was a rewarding strategy. At the end, we finished on the second step of the podium and it’s very good to be back on it.”
Gregg Black: “I was not so satisfied with our third place at Le Mans, but I’m very happy with this race. We were not the fastest here, but the riders were consistent, and the bike was reliable. That is rewarding in Endurance!”
So far in the 2018-2019 EWC Championship, SERT has fought back to fifth at the Bol d’Or 24 Hour opening round on September 16th, podiumed with third at the Le Mans 24 Hours on April 21st; and after running in the top-three for most of the Slovakia Ring event, took advantage of a crash by Honda Endurance in the closing stages to take second at Slovakia Ring.
The next round takes place on June 8th, the 8 Hours of Oschersleben, in Germany with the series finale, the Suzuka 8 Hours in Japan on July 28th.
Suzuki also scored success in the Superstock class with Junior Team Le Mans Sud riders Louis Rossi, Hugo Clere and Alexis Masbou putting their GSX-R1000 to the class victory. In the process, Junior Team LMS has moved into second in the series.
SLOVAKIA RING EWC POSITIONS EACH HOUR:
1hr: SERT 3rd / Junior Team Suzuki 9th
2hr: SERT 3rd / Junior Team Suzuki 6th
3hr: SERT 3rd / Junior Team Suzuki 6th
4hr: SERT 3rd / Junior Team Suzuki 7th
5hr: SERT 3rd / Junior Team Suzuki 8th
6hr: SERT 3rd / Junior Team Suzuki 8th
7hr: SERT 2nd / Junior Team Suzuki 8th
8hr: SERT 2nd / Junior Team Suzuki 6th