Bol d’Or 2022: ERC Endurance Ducati miss sensation by a fraction
At the final round of the 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship the ERC Endurance Ducati squad missed a sensational result at the 24 hours of Le Castellet only by a fraction: Xavi Fores, David Checa and Chaz Davies did end the fight for the Bol d’Or on a fifth. In total, the team did record the most leading laps of the race.
A sensation was just around the corner for the ERC Endurance Ducati EWC-spec Ducati Panigale V4R at the final round of the 2022 FIM EWC round: Having lapped the most laps of all competitors in the lead the squad went into the final two hours of the race. With one and a half hour to go the bad luck struck in: the clutch destroyed itself and the team had to repair it, which in total could be done in under 30 minutes. But ERC not only lost the win, but also the podium. In the end, Xavi Fores and David Checa from Spain crossed the line in fifth. The British rider Chaz Davies had to sit aside since the night time due to back injuries.
It has been a flawless showing of the Karlsruhe based squad. Fores took the start and led the early stages of the race, showing the big EWC factory teams the way round Le Castellet. Whilst the big players had more and more problems, the Panigale V4R was running faultless and led into the night. Between midnight and morning it was a hot contest between the #6 Ducati, the #4 Tati Kawasaki, the #333 Yamaha and the #77 Yamaha.
In the morning hours, ERC Endurance Ducati had increased its led to two laps and did hold on to this until 22:30 hours race time when then the ‘all-in’ decision proved to be the wrong one.
After 10 hours race time the clutch of the V4R had been changed and would have needed another service at 20 hours. The team was well prepared to do so but after talks to the riders with positive feedback and no obvious malfunction, a conference between technicians, engineers, team and Bologna staff the decision was made to go “All-In” for the win.
Little later, the clutch did broke down without a single warning prior and did some more damage to the inside of the motor which resulted into an additional repair stop for almost 30 minutes, which also meant losing the win and even podium.
Even harder: only three laps after ERC Endurance had pitted in to repair the clutch, the hardest opponent in P2 snapped the chain and had to come to the pits too for a repair. Knowing that before, ERC would have hold on to the lead with a regular change of the clutch. But his is Poker, this is Endurance.
“Its been a unbelievable weekend. I am extremely sorry I had to sit back from before half time due to my back pain, but I did a wrong move and could not even walk anymore. Xavi, David and the whole team did a unbelievable job and we all would have deserved this victory. But you don’t come to Endurance and start winning from scratch, I know that after Spa and Le Castellet on my own now too.”
“Actually its unbelievable. We had the win on our grasps but all missed one experience. This is not meant to be rude to anyone, we just risked it to come true. If we had just half a lap more in the lead, we would have made it through and could have safely changed earlier. The clutch never missed a beat and out of a sudden she said good bye. We controlled the race, had a two lap advantage, were the fastest in the night and were not only matching the times of the other top teams still in the race during that time, but clearly were faster than anyone else. Its hard to accept such a set back with just one and a half hours to go. Fifth certainly was not what we were aiming for after all.”
“As long as I am riding Endurance I know it is only over, if its over – and that’s after 24 hours. Looking back now, we did a mistake and should have done this additional stop but afterwards you always know better. For sure, we had this race in our hands. When I went back in after a stint at 3 or 4 in the morning, I apologized to the team I could not have done more than 54s – but the then told me all the others were only doing 58 and above! Our Ducati Panigale V4R did work perfectly and I am sure if we would continue working so hard, we should be very soon not only on the podium, but on the top step.”
Frank Hofmann – Team Manager:
“Of course we are bitterly disappointed to not take home this victory as this was also the matter why we all sat down and discussed and decided to not change the clutch and go all in. If you look at the race afterwards, see the bad luck of others etc. you know you would have won even with this additional stop – but you wont know before. It was a team’s decision and we spoke with the engineers and the riders and Ducati and everyone was going for the strategy we did. All three riders did an amazing job, especially Xavi and David who had to ride on two after Chaz was not able to continue. It is hard to accept to be losing a win one and a half hour before the finish – but in total it also makes you proud what we achieved until that point and makes us wanting more. We did show what we are capable of.”