Fifth place at Estoril
Endurance - 12 Hours of Estoril 2020
Team SRC Kawasaki rode home in sixth place at the 12 Hours of Estoril, a result that means Gilles Stafler’s team finish fifth overall in the 2019/20 Endurance World Championship.
Fresh from their second place at the 24 Heures Motos at the Bugatti circuit, Jérémy Guarnoni, David Checa and Erwan Nigon went into the 12 Hours of Estoril with high hopes of another podium finish at the last EWC race of the 2019/20 season. Originally scheduled to take place at the Paul Ricard circuit, the finale of this season’s championship was moved to Portugal when organisers were forced to cancel the Bol d’Or owing to the extension of Covid-19 restrictions in France.
The Estoril circuit had only twice previously hosted Endurance World Championship events, in 1987 and 2000. The former race took place over 1000 km, while the latter saw riders compete for 8 hours. For this year’s race, the event organisers settled on a 12-hour format. “A tricky format,” was assessment of Gilles Stafler, SRC Kawasaki Team Principal. “8 hours is a sprint, where there’s no two ways about it: you have to attack from start to finish. But 12 hours, even without the fatigue caused by racing overnight, remains a long distance race where you’ve got to be able to manage your efforts.” Starting from eighth on the grid, the riders for reigning world champions Kawasaki were able to stick to their game plan and found themselves safely tucked in behind the leaders at the mid-race stage. Unfortunately, the team suffered a broken chain with 3 hours still to race, costing them around 10 minutes. “It's a real shame because we’d secured our place in the top three,” explained Jérémy Guarnoni. “Although the Yamaha No. 77 was still a threat, we’d done the hard work. We regrouped and ended up finishing in sixth place, which is obviously not the result we were aiming for. We’ll have to work hard to make sure we come back stronger next year. We’ve got some reliability issues to sort out, and more than anything we’ve got to keep progressing with the Michelins. Although right now we’re the only ones capable of doing two stints without changing the front and rear tyres, we’re not quite there in terms of performance.” Having started the season as reigning champions, Team SRC Kawasaki finish the campaign in fifth.