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Dominant Pole Position for YART Yamaha in Portugal

Dominant Pole Position for YART Yamaha in Portugal

YART Yamaha has secured pole position for the 12 Hours of Estoril after a dominant qualifying performance in the Portuguese Riviera. Niccoló Canepa, Marvin Fritz and Karel Hanika all improved their times on Friday morning, topping their respective sessions. The Official Yamaha Endurance squad took pole position by eight tenths with an average lap time of 1:37.936.

The second round of the FIM Endurance World Championship got underway in blistering conditions as track temperatures soared to 55 degrees. The opening practice session saw YART kick off their race week with second on the timesheets, just 0.034 seconds shy of the top spot. In a good position ahead of qualifying, Niccoló Canepa got the teams' qualifying attack going. 

Sitting out half of the session, the Italian took to the 2.59-mile circuit and immediately set a strong pace. The 33-year-old’s second flying lap was good enough to secure second place, three tenths shy of the session’s quickest time. 

Like Canepa, Marvin Fritz was in no hurry to get on track for the second session. Leaving pit lane with ten-minutes on the clock, the IDM champion quickly showed his pace by setting a 1:39.362 on his second lap, putting him and the team at the top of the timesheets. Fritz further improved his time to end his 20-minute session 0.146 seconds quicker than his nearest rival. 

Sticking with one tyre for the first qualifying sessions, Karel Hanika jumped aboard the number seven Yamaha R1 and quickly found his rhythm like his team-mates. Second on the timesheets after his first flying lap, the Czech rider continued to put in the laps, eventually finishing second, which was good enough to secure provisional pole ahead of qualifying two. 

With cooler conditions for the final part of qualifying, YART had fresh Bridgestone tyres at their disposal for all three riders. Canepa kicked off proceedings once again and instantly put the R1 near the front of the timesheets. A 1:39.398 saw the World Superbike test rider end his first stint 0.605 seconds down on the leader but quickly jumped ahead on his second run as he set a 1:38.278 – ending the session in first place with two tenths over BMW in second. 

 The second session saw the return of the yellow armband riders, which saw Fritz back on track for YART. With the bike feeling how all three riders like it, the 28-year-old hit the track and instantly set the sessions fastest time. Putting a fresh Bridgestone tyre in for his second stint, Fritz became the first rider to dip under the 1:38’s, setting a blistering 1:37.857 to end the session half a second clear atop of the timesheets. 

With one session to go, Hanika backed up his team-mates’ strong performance. Like Fritz, Hanika’s opening lap was good enough for first place, but there was still more time to find with the new tyre for the second stint. Leaving pit lane, the former Red Bull Rookies champion got his head down and immediately joined his German team-mate in the 37’s with a stunning 1:37.674, which saw him finish over seventh tenths clear. 

Thanks to a fantastic qualifying performance, YART Yamaha have secured five world championship points as they claim their fourth-consecutive pole position and their second in a row in Estoril as they aim to repeat their race-winning performance of 2020. 

The number 333 VRD Igol Experiences Yamaha running Florian Alt, Florian Marino, Nicolas Terol claimed a solid sixth place with an average time of a 1:39.681 as they hope to build on the impressive result secured in France. 

Moto Ain had a solid qualifying performance, Pierre Chapuis’ team recorded the tenth fastest time. The Wojcik Racing Team will start from 15th place after Gino Rea, Michael Laverty, and Michal Filla recorded an average time of 1:41.413, with Wojcik Racing Team 2 three places ahead in 12th. 

The 12 hours of Estoril will commence at 9am on Saturday, July 17th. 

Niccoló Canepa

YART Yamaha Official EWC Team Time: 1:38.278

“I’m really happy with the pole position, our fourth in a row! The five points is important, but the main thing is tomorrow, that’s where the big points come! We were really unlucky in Le Mans so I’m hoping we will have better luck this weekend because the points we lost in France was a lot. We will give it our all and try to get the best result possible.” 

Marvin Fritz

YART Yamaha Official EWC Team Time: 1:37.857

“We’ve been working hard since Tuesday, and we’ve managed to find a really good feeling with the bike here in Estoril. We’re hungry to fightback after the disappointment of France and repeat our success of 2020. We had a good opening day on Tuesday to improve the bike and every step we made was the right one and the R1 feels the best it’s ever been! The pole position is amazing, fourth pole in a row and five points for the championship. It’s not the victory but we’re confident for the 12 hours as we are consistently quick. The target is to win the race and get as many points as possible, but we will see where we are at the end of the 12th hour!”

Karel Hanika

YART Yamaha Official EWC Team Time: 1:37.674

“We are really happy with four pole positions in a row. We knew we had a good pace for qualifying but we need to focus on the race. We have been quick all week and the feeling with the bike and Bridgestone tyres has been good. We are confident for the 12 hours; we will do our best to achieve a good result.”

Mandy Kainz

YART Yamaha Official EWC Team, Team Owner

“We’re really happy with pole position in Estoril but the race is more important. It is clear that we have the best package with the R1, the Bridgestone tyres and riders but we need to show this in the race too. We hope to recover from the bad luck in Le Mans. We have no real plan, just to attack it as hard as possible. We’ll hope that the racing god is on our side and do the best race possible. It is very warm here in Portugal but as we saw in Qualifying today it is not affecting our riders, bike or tyres, so we’re in a good place for the race.”