24h Motos 2022: ERC Endurance Ducati with bad luck at Le Mans but strong recovery
Karlsruhe / Le Mans (France). ERC Endurance Ducati has finished the 2022 edition of the 24 hours of Le Mans in 15th place overall and in seventh in class. Xavi Fores (ESP), Philipp Öttl (GER) and David Checa (ESP) were amongst the fastest of the race and performed on their Ducati Panigale V4R EWC on overall podium pace. However, adverse circumstances destroyed the hope for podium glory – even though the squad collected some leading miles.
Fores did take the start from fifth position getting away nice and steadily but a crash on the main straight did result into a 20 minutes Safety Car phase. After that, the Spaniard was able to mix himself into the fight for the podium.
The ERC trio did continue to fight in the top five also after the first pit stops but after around seven hours race time there was a first set back when Fores on lap 219 hit a backmarker in the Dunlop chicane, forcing him to crash. One engine cover got damaged, resulting the Panigale V4R loosing oil with Fores being forced to wait for the transport back to the pits. This took over 25 minutes – with the repairs done in under two minutes then. Ranking: 32.
After another 150 laps at around race half time at 3 am, the team was back into the Top 20, after 17 hours of race time Fores, Öttl and Checa had made their way back to the overall top 10 of the race.
Another set back was due shortly after that: the black flag with an orange dot was shown as it was suggested the bike was producing fume – which could not be confirmed in the pits and nothing was broken on the V4R-EWC. Checa was sent out on track again but again got the black/orange flag. The team then decided to replace the oil cooler on a precautionary base. With a stop-and-go-penalty added to the misfortune list, the team dropped back to the end of the Top-20 of the race again.
But neither Fores, Checa and Öttl, nor the whole ERC Endurance Ducati made giving in an option and so finished the 24 heures Motos after 798 laps and almost 2.5 hours pits time in a 15th overall and P7 in the EWC class.
ERC Endurance Ducati holds on to seventh in the 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship after one of four races by 23 points. The next race will be held on 03/04 June with the 24 hours of Spa Franchorchamps at Belgium.
“For sure we take the positives from this race. We were amongst the quickest of the pack and showing strong. But we had a lot of bad luck too, which can happen during every endurance race. It is a shame it took so long to get the bike back to the pits after my harmless fall. I am sorry for the crash but it was also just bad luck and a misunderstanding. We know we have the potential to fight at the sharp end of the FIM Endurance World Championship on our Ducati Panigale V4R EWC and we will prove that again at Spa.”
“In my long career I already had some races like this when seemingly everything is going wrong – so I can’t be concussed by that anymore as I know ‘This is endurance’. Personally I take the positives from this race and the week at Le Mans: Our Ducati Panigale V4R EWC is more than competitive and – given some better luck – the podium for sure has to be our target. The bike is working perfectly – as does our pit crew and my team mates. I am looking forward to Spa already!”
“It has been my first 24 hours race and a brand new experience. It was for sure exhausting, but I had a lot of fun too. Except for our bad luck I was surprised how good everything went, especially on my personal side. I was a bit afraid of the night at first but in the morning I did 1.36s and during the night I was able to get behind Xavier Simeon and not losing contact with him – and they did win the race in the end. This also shows we were set up strongly and our EWC spec Panigale was on fire. I really enjoyed it.”