ERC Endurance Ducati: De Puniet, Da Costa, Rossi & Jezek fired up for racing-comeback
It is official news: At the 29th/30th of August, the 24 hours of Le Mans will be held at the Circuit Bugatti – unfortunately without fans be allowed to attend the race. But this also means ERC Endurance Ducati can fully concentrate on the second outing with the Ducati Panigale V4R having signed Randy de Puniet (FRA), Louis Rossi (FRA), Julien Da Costa (FRA) and Ondrej Jezek (CZE) as their four riders. De Puniet only signed this week for the Le Mans race but will have to miss the Bol d’Or just three weeks later due to his TV commentator commitments and date clash with the MotoGP.
Back in December 2019, ERC debuted the Ducati at the 8 hours of Sepang but since then the Endurance racing scene was on hold. The 24 hours of Le Mans initially were planned for mid-April 2020 but had to be postponed to the last weekend in August. The Karlsruhe based team’s home race at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben with the 8 hours of Germany has been fully cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But now Le Mans will be held and ERC Endurance Ducati has used the time since Sepang effortlessly to prepare and develop the new Endurance bike of Borgo Panigale based manufacturer Ducati to further prepare the V4R to the needs of EWC racing. Prior to the race at the end of August, there will be a further official test at Le Mans to be held mid-July.
Jezek and Rossi remain on board the team, with Da Costa being part of the ERC operated BMW Sepang Racing team in Malaysia, making the switch to the Panigale for the French round. De Puniet initially only was planned for the Malaysian round but now is back in the team for the 24 hours of Le Mans.
There has been a major change in the time schedule for this year’s edition of the Le Mans round, as the start will be held Saturday, 29th of August at 12:00 midday – whereas normally a start time of 15:00 would be the case, which also means the chequered flag will be waved Sunday, 30th of August at 1200.
Randy de Puniet:
Those are great news and I am really happy to be riding at Le Mans this year together with Ducati again. At Sepang I saw the huge potential of the bike and I already had loved to race again with the Panigale V4R. For now this will only be for Le Mans I will be riding with ERC Endurance Ducati. We also switched tires to Michelin which will help us to develop the bike and I think we can be lot faster than at Sepang. I am curious to see how the bike has improved since I last rode it. For sure it will be strange to race without fans but the most important thing is we can go racing. Eurosport and Le Mans did well to find a compromise we can race at all and for sure it will be a good show in the TV so fans will be able to watch us racing – this is great! For us, we hope to finish somewhere near the podium, this would be great!
I think everyone is aware we all never had such a long time without racing in our all career’s. You can feel how you get more and more nervous and more and more keen to get back racing day by day – but now we are sure we can go racing at Le Mans and this is another additional motivation for my training to step up the game once more. I can’t wait to be back on our ERC Endurance Ducati Panigale V4R. There is a test coming up where the main aim will be to get back used to the speed but for sure we are also going to have a lot of parts and things to test stepping up from the base we set up at Malaysia.
Julien Da Costa:
It was a nerve-wrecking long break, this is for sure. I also can’t wait to go back racing. The Le Mans round has been confirmed but for sure it will be a very strange feeling to race without all those fans. But I am very looking forward to get my first impression of the Ducati Panigale V4R bike. At Malaysia we saw the bike has a peerless potential and the project is very young, so I can’t wait to be part of it.
Finally! I never had such a long time without riding a motorbike in my whole life! We are fired up to be back on a race track and on our Ducati Panigale V4R. Le Mans will be the first proper acid test for us as Malaysia was heavily interrupted by rain and we were forced to sit in the pits for a long time of the 8 hours distance. The project still remains very young so the utmost target will be to see the chequered flag on Sunday, 30thof August at 12:00 o’clock.
The long time waiting finally is over and it has been confirmed we can go racing at Le Mans for the 24 heures Motos – even though without fans. Economically, the crisis did not cause us big problems and we luckily were able to keep up our race team to further develop the Ducati Panigale V4R for our next fight in the EWC class – even though for a lot of weeks and months we did not exactly know where and when this would be. But now we are burning to get back on track – first for a test and then for the race. Le Mans without spectators – this will be a weird and spooky thing and of course we all will be missing the fans as it is always the best moment, when 100.000 people are singing their national anthem together and we will miss that this 29th of August at 12 o’clock, for sure! As our former tire partner has left the EWC competition, there is additional work awaiting us. I want to hugely thank Michelin for their effort and with whom we are now working together.