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Close Second for YART Yamaha in Epic Most Showdown

Close Second for YART Yamaha in Epic Most Showdown

A thrilling season finale in the Czech Republic repaid YART Yamaha’s Marvin Fritz, Karel Hanika and Niccolò Canepa’s heroic fightback with a second-place finish, narrowly missing out on victory by just 0.070 seconds following a nail-biting showdown.

Starting from pole position after a commanding qualifying performance on Thursday, Marvin Fritz got the team’s final FIM Endurance World Championship race of the year underway but an unfortunate start for the German demoted the team to the tail of the pack by turn one. 

Despite this, Fritz got his head down and the number 7 Yamaha was quickly up to speed and promptly got himself back in the top 15. Carving through the field, the former IDM Superbike champion was knocking on the door of the top ten by the fifth minute before continuing his charge. Closing in on ninth, Fritz got ahead of the #333 VRD IGOL EXPÉRIENCES Yamaha before pursuing his charge to the front. 

Passing Loris Baz’s MOTO AIN for sixth, Fritz had a clear track ahead of him as he swiftly closed the 1.9-second gap. Arriving on the rear wheel of the #11 Kawasaki, the 28-year-old flew past and started his hunt on the leading quartet. 

Reducing the seven-second gap in just over 15 minutes, YART jumped ahead of SERT at the penultimate corner with a clean pass up the inside before moving ahead of Honda a lap later. A strong starting Wójcik Yamaha’s Gino Rea was next on the list for the official Yamaha Endurance team rider, passing his counterpart and propelling into second. 

Settling into a rhythm, Fritz opened the gap and began chasing down the leading rider before pulling in for his first stop at the 53rd-minute mark. With home-hero Karel Hanika now aboard the R1, an issue for YART in the pits saw the Czech rider emerge in sixth place with work to do. 

Not letting that bother him, Hanika immediately got down to fast lap times. Comfortably the fastest rider on track, the home hero brought the team back into podium contention with a strong ride. 

Handing over to Niccolò Canepa, the Italian immediately engaged in battle with Sylvain Guintoli and moved ahead of the Suzuki for second place. After suffering from illness, Canepa’s stint was an unknown for the former Grand Prix rider. Unable to string consecutive laps together in practice, the pace shown by the YART man was incredible and continued to lap strong throughout his 33-lap stint before Marvin Fritz jumped back aboard the R1. 

Another incredible stint for Fritz saw YART close the gap to 23 seconds at the halfway point. As the temperature began to rise, the R1, fitted with the Bridgestone tyres, came into its own. Closing the gap lap by lap, the German got YART within striking distance of the leaders before Hanika dealt the blow. 

A neat pass around the outside at turn 19 promoted the Austrian Yamaha squad into the lead of the race. With YART holding a comfortable advantage, the race would take another turn when championship contenders, VRD IGOL EXPÉRIENCES suffered a technical failure resulting in a safety car while the track was cleaned. Successfully negotiating the safety car period, Hanika dived into the pits for a ‘splash and dash’ before jumping back aboard the R1 for a heroic double stint. 

Getting his head down once again, his charge was halted by a second safety car in rapid succession. With the race getting back underway with just over an hour to go, Hanika inherited the lead after a pit stop for the leads. Determined to bring the R1 home in first place, the former Moto3 star pushed on, opening a 36.806-second gap before his final stop of the afternoon. 

With Marvin Fritz stepping aboard for this third and final stint, the German returned to the track in second place, 14.448 seconds behind BMW – with a stunning finale brewing. 

Setting a new race-best lap on his 193rd circulation of Most, he continued to pile the pressure on his rival ahead but it wasn’t enough. Knowing that he needed to up the pace further, Fritz dug deep, setting another fastest lap. Closing the gap to 2.713 seconds with ten minutes to go, the 2014 IDM Supersport 600 class champion broke the 1’33 barrier, setting two more fastest laps in the closing stages of the race.  

Closing the gap to less than a second, Fritz began his final lap, but a small slide as he applied the throttle cost him valuable time. Not giving up, a sensational middle sector put him back in contention but the Yamaha man just ran out of time. Looking for a pass in the final corner, Fritz looked to pip the BMW on the line but sadly missed out by a mere 0.070 seconds – securing YART Yamaha’s first podium of the year in second place. 

The Wojcik Racing Team Yamaha squad ended their 2021 season in fifth place. A strong start for Gino Rea had the team fighting for victory early on, but as the pace picked up the team settled for a top-five finish in the hands of Sheridan Morais and Dan Linfoot alongside British Superbike race winner Rea. 

VRD IGOL EXPÉRIENCES’ championship charge ended in a non-finish. A technical issue mid-way through the race ended the team's charge. 

MOTO AIN also endured a tough season finale. A crash for Corentin Perolari after a strong start dropped the team to the back of the field, eventually finishing 21st.  

41 points secured for YART Yamaha sees the team jump to sixth in the overall standings with a 88 points total. VRD IGOL EXPÉRIENCES missed out on a top-three finish, ending the year a strong fourth with MOTO AIN and Maco Racing featuring inside the top ten in seventh and tenth places. Yamaha claimed the manufacturers title with a 202.5 points total. 

41 points secured for YART Yamaha sees the team jump to sixth in the overall standings with a 88 points total. VRD IGOL EXPÉRIENCES missed out on a top-three finish, ending the year a strong fourth with MOTO AIN and Maco Racing featuring inside the top ten in seventh and tenth places. Yamaha claimed the manufacturers title with a 202.5 points total. 

Marvin Fritz

YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

“We’re happy for second place because the team really deserved a good result. For sure I’m angry and disappointed in myself for losing by such a small gap because we really wanted to win here in Most. We had a tough start, an issue which, with the unfortunate timing of the safety car, saw us lose over two minutes in total. We worked hard as a team and my team-mates rode brilliantly to recover the gap. But despite those issues we ended the race 0.070 seconds behind them, so this shows the speed we had. We need to be positive because we were only a second behind Toprak’s World Superbike time here. Looking back it was a good weekend because we were fast in practice, had an incredible qualifying and we ended the race with the fastest lap and so close to victory so we need to take this motivation, work on the areas we are struggling in the most and come back stronger in 2022.” 

Karel Hanika

YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

“It’s a bit of a mixed feeling after the finale in Most. On one side I’m happy because we finished on the podium but it’s a shame to miss out on victory at home. Our target was to win and to miss it by the smallest of margins is tough. We had an issue at the start and lost a lot of time, but we were able to solve it for the rest of the race with a different strategy and importantly regain the time we lost. It was tough to complete the double-stint but I tried to keep my focus and in the second part of the stint I was able to close the gap to BMW. Marvin did a great job to close the last 15 or so seconds, it’s just a bit of a shame we just missed out on the win! The team did an amazing job, so I want to thank them for their hard work this weekend and throughout the year. I hope we will have a bit more luck next year because this year has been tough. We are the fastest team with the fastest riders so we need to come back stronger next year and fight for the EWC crown. Thank you to Mandy Kainz and the YART family for the opportunity and we will be back stronger in 2022.” 

Niccolò Canepa

YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

"We are happy with the performance here in Most. Normally when you miss out on the victory as we did it’s not a nice feeling, but today it is the opposite. All three of us were the fastest riders and the bike was perfect. I was incredibly happy with my stint because this week I haven’t done more than five laps in a row due to my illness. We managed 33 laps in a row and was fast up until the last lap so for this, I’m happy! Marvin at the end did an awesome job to recover from the struggles we faced at the start of the race. We also lost a bit of time with the extra fuel stop and for this reason we were unable to recover the gap to the leaders. But we leave here with no regrets because we were really strong and we can go into winter mentally strong and ready to fight again in 2022. Now, we, as a team, have to prepare and come back stronger next season because the issues we faced this year is what cost us the title this year. I want to say thank you to the YART team because everybody has done an incredible job, the pit stops have been amazing all year so I’m happy that we can end this season with a podium to repay their hard work."

Mandy Kainz

YART Yamaha EWC Official Team, Team Manager

“To miss out on the victory by such a small margin is tough because we were by far the fastest team on the track today. We as a championship must be proud of today’s race because as a promotion for Endurance and for us at YART, we put on a fantastic show for the fans. Our three riders were consistently the fastest on track and we blew the opponents away in terms of out-right pace, we just lost too much time where we didn’t need to. We had an issue with starting the bike which cost us at the start and then another 25-seconds when we made our first pit stop. We then made another pit stop between safety cars for the fuel consumption, which put us one stop behind BMW, but despite all of this we came back to fight for victory until the very end. We’ll take the positives from this race, which is we are the fastest, but we need to work hard throughout winter. We need to work on our weaknesses and come back in 2022 stronger and fight for the EWC World title.”