This weekend is the 12 Hours of Estoril, the second test of the calendar of the 2021 World Endurance Championship. Among the nearly 100 registered riders, many have competed in speed (Grand Prix or World Superbike). Among them, there are also several World Champions such as Mike Di Meglio (125cc, 2008), Nico Terol (125cc, 2011) or Sylvain Guintoli (WorldSBK, 2014), who is still evolving in MotoGP as a Suzuki test driver.
If in athletics, a sprinter and a cross-country runner approach their careers differently, in motorcycling, on the other hand, there are many similarities. ” For me there is no real differenceadmits Di Meglio, representative of the FCC TSR Honda France team. Whether it’s a 24-hour race or a sprint, we try to prepare as best we can. However, in endurance, the week before the race can be very long. You need to hydrate well and rest between each session, to get in good shape for the race. »
The Tolousain points out another small difference: ” In resistance, we work in groups. There are three of us and we try to help each other. In the sprint, it’s individual and you have to find solutions while alone. Even if you have a partner, he is often your first opponent. »
For his part, De Puniet, who started as a headline from 1999 to 2014, emphasizes that the idea of continuing his career in the resistance is part of the French tradition. ” After a race in speed, all French drivers have tested endurance at least once, trusts one of the riders of the Moto Ain team. Many pilots like the Sarron brothers (Christian and Dominique, editor’s note) and others competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans or the Golden Bowl after running in the GP. These are races I’ve always wanted to compete in. When I was at the GP, though, you shouldn’t tell me about it. They are different machines than I used to run in GP. A few years ago, the opportunity arose to compete in the Golden Bowl with Kawasaki, when he was a KTM test driver in MotoGP. I thought about it and thought why not. I enjoyed it. »
Did you have to adjust your driving? ” The level is lower and the bikes are less demanding than in GPsays De Puniet. Coming from the GP, we are in good physical condition. Even linking multiple relays is even easier on a physical level. There are other races, however, such as the 8 Hours of Suzuka, which are very demanding. I haven’t changed the way I approach a race. However, there are other parameters to consider such as night or delays. »
In addition to his role as a Suzuki developer in MotoGP, Sylvain Guintoli has joined the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) to compete in the 2021 endurance season. ” It’s something that happened naturallyexplains the Frenchman who lives in England with his family. In 2017 I started participating in the eight hours of Suzuka with the Suzuki Yoshimura team. This is a very important event for Japanese manufacturers. A win at Suzuka is perhaps more important to them than a world title. My participation in this race was related to my MotoGP test rider program. This year, there has been a rapprochement between SERT, Suzuki’s historic official endurance team, and Yoshimura, who only competed in the Japanese event of this championship. Naturally, I was asked to join this new structure. I immediately accepted, because I had been dreaming of participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for a long time. »
In addition to making his dream come true, the 2014 Superbike World Champion won the legendary endurance race, aided by teammates Greg Black and Xavier Siméon, who also raced in GP in the past. Tomorrow, for the start of the 12 Hours of Estoril, the SERT will start from the third position just ahead of the FCC TSR Honda France team. The Moto Ain team will start from the tenth position.