Last year the 12 Hours of Estoril proved to be a true challenge for even the most experienced riders. This year was no exception. After an intense 12-hour battle with no less than five leader changes, it was the Motul-backed F.C.C TSR Honda France team of Josh Hook, Yuki Takahashi and Mike Di Meglio who came out on top!
The 12 Hours of Estoril is unique in more ways than one. For a start, it begins at 9am. On the front row, it was the YART team that repeated its pace at Le Mans and snatched pole position. Once the green flag dropped an intense battle between YART, BMW Motorrad, and the Suzuki Yoshimura SERT Motul team began. It was the Suzuki, with Greg Black at the helm, which set the pace for the first few hours of the race fending off both the Yamaha and the BMW. During this dice, the BMW was the first to fall victim to the pressure and the challenge that comes with this incredible race, crashing out of the lead. Not long after, Sylvain Guintoli suffered a similar fate on his factory Suzuki. With both the BMW and the Suzuki dropping down the order it was the YART Yamaha that led the pack before it too crashed out of contention, handing the lead to the #11 Kawasaki with the race not even halfway.
With only 90 minutes left on the clock and the #11 Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar team firmly in the lead, Estoril struck again as the Kawasaki suffered a fuel problem and lost the lead to F.C.C. TSR Honda France, who had been consistently following the top three pack. It was this reliability and enduring consistency that handed them the overall victory!
After Guintoli’s crash, the Suzuki Yoshimura SERT Motul team managed to get the bike fixed and pushed hard to retake the lead, but once again disaster struck. Belgian rider Xavier Simeon was working his way up to fifth position, trailing behind Morgan Berchet on the Tati Team Beringer Racing bike. But Berchet did a hard braking maneuver to avoid a slower contender and Simeon got caught out. He couldn’t avoid the Kawasaki’s rear wheel and was violently sent onto the tarmac. The impact was so strong that Simeon needed a minute to find his bearings. Morgan Berchet, who was by this stage fourth and fighting for an overall podium position, put his racing ambitions aside and came to Simeon’s aid, comforting the rider and helping him back to his feet. This incredible display of sportsmanship and solidarity awarded Berchet with the Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy, which was presented to him by Simeon himself.
The SuperStock category offered no less excitement than the EWC, with the Kawasaki team BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers winning after a lengthy duel with the #55 Honda National Motos. However, the battle was short-lived when the Honda ran out of fuel and fell down to second place. Although they didn’t win, the Honda team of Stéphane Egéa, Guillaume Antiga and Enzo Boulom were awarded the EWC Dunlop Independent trophy for their incredible speed and performance throughout the race. Honda National Motos also managed to retain the lead in the SuperStock Championship.