The official F.C.C. TSR Honda France team closed out an amazing season in the FIM’s 2022 Endurance World Championship (EWC) at this year’s season finale at the Bol d’Or. Lifting the EWC championship, the victory marks the second time the squad has won this title, a win made all the sweeter as it was settled on home turf at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. The #5 Honda finished fourth in the Bol d’Or, but it was enough for the team to ensure overall victory in the championship. However, the race was not without its challenges and victory looked far from certain.
A winning combination
Sébastien Pernel, marketing department manager – motorcycle division at Honda France, said of the championship victory: “We are very happy because this season was not so easy, and we had some troubles. But it was a great achievement to show the performance and reliability of the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP.”
Pascal Tomek, Motul’s coordinator, CoE Powersport Europe, added:
"Congratulations to Honda and the whole team; Fuji, the team manager, and of course the riders! It was a great joy to celebrate the world championship title with them at the Bol d'Or. This victory is a real pride, it is the fruit of the close collaboration between the Honda and Motul technical teams, who have been working side by side for several years now. “We have often been associated with Honda in endurance racing. Historically, they have always set the bar very high in motorsport and this is what motivated our association in EWC (after the Dakar, MX1 and WSBK). With them, we even developed a Honda-specific product with their engineers in Japan, the Motul 300V 2376 Racing Kit Oil 0W30, which allowed them to reach the top of the podiums, no matter the number of hours or the distance covered.”
A hard-fought victory
Honda riders Josh Hook, Mike Di Meglio and Alan Techer had to stay at the front until the end to win the championship. After starting the 24-hour race from fourth, French rider Mike Di Meglio immediately put the Motul-lubricated Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP in the lead of the race during the first hours.
However, the bike suffered a few issues early on in the race that temporarily compromised their chances for the title. By the third hour of the race, Techer had to enter the box to fix some issues with the oil cooler radiator – and that put the team back to 27th position. The squad quickly showed their pace though by putting the bike back into fifth place after the first six hours. By the halfway point, another issue – this time an exhaust problem – forced Techer back into the pits, but a quick stop meant he rejoined the race in the same position again.
From that point on, the team consistently put in strong lap times, leading them to move into fourth, which they held until the very end. It was enough to see the team lift the championship trophy at the 100th running of the Bol d’Or with a total of 154 points.
Focusing on the championship, not the podium
Honda rider Josh Hook said of the race: “I have learned from the past to never take a result for granted before the chequered flag. We have come back from complicated situations in the past and nothing is ever certain. Like everyone else, we did our race and never gave up. We did very well, all three of us were fast, especially during the night. We were quickly no longer in a position to fight for victory, so we focused on the championship, which was clearly the priority goal. We chose to take care of the engine as much as possible to avoid the problems that most of our competitors have. And it's done!”
Fellow rider, Alan Techer, added:
“It was a complicated race for everyone, we also had some mechanical problems. The team worked hard to reduce the time spent in the pits and, with my teammates, we did our best to respect the race plan. The objective was clearly the title, and after the Suzuki's retirement, we battled with the Tati Team, my former team. This is a special emotion for me, because I win this title with the team that had already given me the chance to be champion in 2018. We also have a big thought for Gino to whom we dedicate this title.”
Mike Di Meglio reveals strategy change
Frenchman and third rider Mike Di Meglio, said: “I'm very happy to finally be World Endurance Champion! I came so close with GMT94 and I'm really proud of this title after so many years of fighting for it. It was a really tough race. We had some problems and our opponents were forced to stop one after the other. When Tati Team #4 was fighting at the front, we decided to build up enough of a gap to our chaser to get out of trouble. But when they dropped down the rankings, we changed our strategy to preserve the engine as much as possible by shifting earlier on the straight. It was the best thing to do because the world championship was more important than a podium finish.”