ERC Endurance to start new Ducati adventure at Sepang 8 hours from P7
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Fresh start for ERC Endurance on the other side of the world: The team switched machinery to now race on Ducati Panigale V4R with riders Ondrej Jezek (CZE), Randy de Puniet (FRA) and Louis Rossi (FRA) at the helm of the iconic Italian bike.
So far it was a weekend of the “very firsts”: It is the first time the FIM Endurance World Championship visits Malaysia and the first edition of the 8 hours of the Sepang International Circuit. It is the first time the riders met their new Ducati Panigale V4R and the first time on track as well as the first time many of the team members met each other and got a first hand on the bike. The project is supported by two FIM WorldSBK mechanics of Team BARNI as well by a Ducati Corse electronics engineer.
The first outing was held in a seven hour test session on Wednesday with the squad working hard to find a Endurance base set-up for the bike. The session then got cut short one hour earlier due to a heavy thunderstorm, leaving the track wet for the remainder of the day’s programme with a two hour Free Practice session and the Night Practice as well.
Thursday was packed as well and did see two Qualifying sessions for each rider, another 45 minutes free practice and the Top-10 time trial.
Strong performance in Qualifying
Even though it is a brand new project, the ERC Endurance squad did a superb job by entering the Top seven on the average best time. De Puniet was quickest, posting a 2:05.854 minute time already with rather short mileage on the Panigale. Rossi got in a time of 2.06.128, with Jezek lapping the course in 2:06.889 minutes.
That meant a average best time of 2:06.293, putting the team right into the Top-10 Time Trial, which is a Superpole format and normally only run at the 8 hours of Suzuka in Endurance racing.
Randy de Puniet took the honour of being the team’s quickest rider so he proceeded to the Superpole, where he confirmed seventh on the grid for the team for Saturday’s race.
The race will start on Saturday, 14th of December 2019, at 1 p.m Local Malaysian time, with the chequered flag to be waved eight hours later at 9 pm.
I think we can be more than happy on how this week went so far. Everything was new only two days ago and we had to put a lot effort in setting the bike up and spent very short time on track only. We had also some bad luck with the weather, which cut our progress further short. But in the end we made it to the Top-10 Time Trial which has to be a huge success at this stage of the project.
Randy de Puniet:
It is a brand new team and a very interesting new challenge, especially for me. I was aware of we have to start from scratch here and I liked the idea behind using a Ducati for Endurance racing – and the Panigale V4R is a more than beautiful bike. It is normal we could not spent so much time on the track so that was no surprise for me. But the base is there, as we proved with entering the Top-10 time trial. We have a good speed for this stage of the project again.
It is a interesting new challenge for all of us, but we have shown a great speed already despite not riding as much as we might have wished for. But we all expect that to happen as the project is so new. I am very proud of being part of this challenge. The bike’s base is good already and it took me just a handful of laps to get the first scratches to the elbow sliders. We still have a lot of work to do, but the first impact is made.