YART Yamaha were forced to retire from the 2021 Bol d’Or event after a technical issue during Marvin Fritz’s stint halted the team’s victory charge. The Yamaha Austrian Racing Team were leading the race when a mechanical failure on the mistral straight ended their 24-hour as the halfway stage approached.
Sporting the 60th Anniversary of Grand Prix racing livery, Fritz got the official Yamaha EWC team’s Bol d’Or underway from second position under glorious sunshine in the French Riviera. A tough start for the German saw him drop to 13th off the line but by the end of the opening few laps, he was already back inside the top four and began his charge towards the leading trio.
With three seconds of clear track ahead, Fritz pushed on and claimed a podium spot with a clean pass at turn nine. A lap later the former IDM Superbike champion was into second place. With four bikes fighting for the lead, the 28-year-old traded places before settling into fourth as the opening stint came to an end.
With Niccolò Canepa now aboard the R1 Yamaha, YART were quickly promoted back onto the podium after an issue for Honda gave Canepa third place. A calculated stint from the experienced Italian saw him consolidate third place before pitting at the one hour 37-minute mark. As the laps ticked away, YART jumped up to second place in the hands of Karel Hanika who, like Canepa, rode a sensible stint before Fritz got back aboard the bike.
As he settled back into his stint, the German slowly began to reduce the gap to the race leader as the sun began to drop in Le Castellet. Knowing their pace would be stronger throughout the night, the pace picked up once again as night fell. Still sat in second with eight hours on the clock, YART secured nine points in addition to the four points secured in Friday’s qualifying session.
With clouds gathering over the Paul Ricard circuit, the rain would eventually fall mid-way through Niccolò Canepa’s stint. Still sat in second, the former MotoGP rider had to call upon his vast experience as he bravely got his Yamaha around the wet circuit on slick tyres. Pitting at the end of his stint for wet tyres, Canepa chose to double stint as he knew the current conditions and continued the charge towards the Suzuki. However, the 33-year-old’s charge would soon be made easier when Xavier Simeon crashed, putting YART back into the lead with a minute and 31-second gap over second.
As Canepa returned to the pits with a comfortable gap of over a minute, the team then turned their attention on getting through the night, despite pressure being put back on by the recovering SERT squad.
But disaster struck as the race approached its halfway stage when a technical issue forced Marvin Fritz to pull over at the side of the Mistral straight. Desperate to continue, the German brought the bike back to the garage, but with the damage done, YART was forced to retire from the race, cruelly missing out on the fight for victory.
The Wójcik Racing Team and Wójcik Racing Team 2 also retired from the race. The Wójcik Racing Team in the hands of Dan Linfoot, Gino Rea and Sheridan Morais was running inside the top ten when they were forced to retire.