Yamalube YART Yamaha Storm to Estoril 12-Hour Victory
Date posted on October 1, 2020
The Yamalube YART Yamaha Team have taken victory in the first-ever Estoril 12-Hour after a sublime performance from Karel Hanika, Marvin Fritz and Niccoló Canepa. The Wojcik Racing Team and Moto AIN team made it a triple celebration for Yamaha on the Estoril podium, with Wojcik finishing third overall and Moto AIN taking the FIM Superstock World Cup race win and 2019/2020 title.
The YART Yamaha squad got their championship-deciding race underway in the hands of Marvin Fritz. The German had a tough start, suffering from a small technical issue, dropping to the back of the field as the pack battled their way into turn one.
The former IDM Superbike champion kept a calm head, quickly making his way through the field, he found himself lying in seventh at the end of the first five minutes. Fritz continued to work his way towards the front, setting an early fastest lap as the track temperature began to rise.
As he found his rhythm, Fritz was just out of podium reach after making his way up to fourth. He wasted no time getting past the F.C.C TSR Honda, swooping around the outside at the final corner, finishing the move into turn one, he began to chase after the race leader.
After an impressive first stint, Fritz handed the YART R1 over to Karel Hanika, who instantly began to pile the pressure on the BMW team. However, his opening stint was made a little easier, taking the lead of the race after the BMW Motorrad team crashed out of contention.
Controlling the pace, YART continued to dominate proceedings. Hanika was deep into his second stint when he suffered a small technical issue with his right footrest. Unalarmed, he kept a calm head, alerting the team before pulling in to make the quick repair. With just over four hours on the clock, Niccoló Canepa took over from the Czech rider.
As the race approached its half-way mark, YART held a lead of just one second over the F.C.C TSR Honda, with a battle that was set to go down to the wire.
As the track temperature continued to rise to 43 degrees, Hanika had a steady start to his next stint, building temperature into his Bridgestone tyres. With just under six hours remaining, there was no room for error in the second-longest race of the season. The Czech rider was quick to settle into his next stint, shadowing the F.C.C TSR Honda team and eventually took the lead back at turn six after losing it briefly on his out lap.
With two-thirds race distance approaching, the pressure was back on YART after their lead was closed down once again. With Fritz back on board, the German held on to the lead at the eight-hour mark, collecting ten further championship points, adding to the five they took for pole position.
There were more celebrations at the eight-hour mark as the Moto AIN DAFY squad confirmed their FIM Endurance World Cup title thanks to the efforts of Roby Rolfo, Robin Mulhauser and Hugo Clere.
Back at the front, Hanika ran into further issues, experiencing another problem with his right footrest. Both YART and Hanika were quick to fix the problem and continued to lap comfortably in the low 1:40’s as the sun began to set on the Estoril track.
With two hours remaining, YART Yamaha found themselves in a battle for the lead once again, with two different strategies for the leading two teams. However, YART used their experience to time their final pit stop to perfection, with Fritz pitting for a splash and dash nine minutes before the end of the race, securing the victory by 24.5 seconds.
Unfortunately for the team, despite a clean sweep, it wasn’t enough to take the world championship, finishing the ultra-competitive 2019/2020 EWC season in second overall, 18 points adrift of eventual winners, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team.
The Wojcik Yamaha Team had a strong race, running inside the top five throughout the 12-hours to take an overall third place, joining YART on the podium. Meanwhile, Moto AIN rode to an impressive eighth place, taking the World Cup race win and the 2019/2020 crown.
Another strong result saw Yamaha crowned manufacturers champions, picking up 237 points across the 2019/2020 FIM Endurance World Championship season.
Karel Hanika: “I started the year with the YART team as their fourth rider, but I proved myself and joined the squad with Niccoló and Marvin. I’ve now done three races with this team, and we’ve won twice and then in Le Mans we were the strongest, but after my mistake, we lost the podium. I’m so happy to end the season with a win despite having two issues with the footrest. Throughout the week the team did an amazing job, especially Marvin who was really strong, so overall it was a good race.”
Marvin Fritz: “We worked really hard from the first session; it was a new track for me, so I had to learn it. The track wasn’t hard to learn, it was just physical on the body. About the race, we never expected the tyres to work as well as they did, so massive thanks to Bridgestone. The team was fantastic, even with the small issues we had during the race, no one made a mistake and everyone was really consistent throughout the stints, consistently faster than the other teams. During my final stint, I was pushing like hell to open the gap over TSR, and in the end, we got the win. I’m really happy because it’s always nice to end the year with a win as we have a long winter ahead. I want to thank the team, my sponsors, Yamaha and Bridgestone for all their hard work this season and I can’t wait for next year.”
Niccoló Canepa: “It wasn’t an easy race, but a race we needed to win. It’s the final race of the season, so it was important that we go into the winter break with a performance like this in Estoril.”
Mandy Kainz (Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team): “On paper, it looked clear; I don’t think we’ve ever dominated like this before. From free practice to night practice, qualifying and warm-up, we were dominating the field, but it wasn’t an easy race. It was a mixed race, with some bad luck and some luck on our side, it shows once again how unpredictable Endurance is. But in the end, we did what we wanted to do, we took maximum points, and came close to winning the championship. We once again showed the potential of the team, the new R1 and the Bridgestone tyres. The team did an amazing job; we were on top in every session; everything was perfect. It was a hard battle with Honda, but in the end, we came out on top!”
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