EWC: Suzuki increases lead at ‘very wet’ Sepang 8 Hours

The inaugural 8 Hours of Sepang FIM EWC (Endurance World Championship) concluded with YART Yamaha taking home the win at a very wet and drama-filled race. After a long delay which saw the race cut down to less than half, the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) managed to extend their EWC championship lead up to 15 points (79 points total) in the second race of the series with a P5 finish.

The shortened race which was restarted only at 6 pm on Saturday saw riders and teams scrambling to get everything in order as the rain finally slowed down enough for conditions to be deemed ‘safe for racing’. The SERT squad and their three riders, Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson, and Gregg Black, charged from P11 up to P5 to secure valuable points to continue their championship lead in the still very tricky conditions.

Due to time constraints, difficult riding conditions, and revised team strategies to get the best results by 9 pm, Gregg Black started the race and clocked an impressive pace to get his Suzuki GSX-R1000 up to P5. The bike was then passed to Masson where he maintained the position before crossing the chequered flag after 79 laps and three pit-stops.

According to Damien Saulnier, SERT’s Team Manager, “When you are not on the top step of the podium you always wish you had a better place, but for this race with tricky conditions, our goal was a Top-5 and the job has been done. I am satisfied with the work we’ve done during the week while being aware that there is still some more work to do. The team keeps on growing up and everyone works hard. We are also very pleased with Yoshimura’s engineers’ support.”

“I would also like to thank the organiser for this amazing event. Bringing 38 European teams to Malaysia was not an easy task! And last but not least, I would like to say a word for Vincent Philippe, who didn’t race today because of the circumstances. He is a very professional man and I had great confidence in him. I am filled with emotion, but also proud to have been able to work with this remarkable rider,” added Saulnier.

It’s an amazing result for Suzuki and it’ll be quite a show going to the next round at Le Mans in April. With SERT being a French-based outfit, it’ll be an advantage not only with a championship lead but also an added home advantage. The 24 Heures Motos 2020 at the famous Bugatti Circuit will commence from 18-19 April 2020.

BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team currently sits in second of the championship series with 64 points while Wójcik Racing Team (Yamaha) remains in third with 48 points despite not being able to secure any points at Sepang this past weekend.

Image credit: FIM EWC

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