YART Yamaha have claimed their second-consecutive Le Mans pole position after a sublime effort from Karel Hanika, Marvin Fritz and Niccolò Canepa saw them end qualifying just over a tenth clear of second place with a 1:35.804
Six tenths faster than anyone in practice on Thursday morning, the official Yamaha EWC Team got their qualifying underway on Thursday afternoon and were quick out of the blocks. Hanika stormed to the fastest time of the day in the opening session, setting a 1:36.018 to claim first position in the blue riders’ session.
Fritz was next up and, using the same tyres as Hanika, put in a time of a 1:36.395 in session that was interrupted by a red flag. Second position for the German put YART Yamaha in contention to claim provisional pole with just Canepa left to run. Just like team-mate Fritz, the Italian remained on the tyres the team started the session with and despite having less grip, Canepa recorded the third fastest time and saw the team finish the first qualifying in second, just four thousandths behind SERT.
With fresh tyres at their disposal for Friday morning’s cooler qualifying session, YART wasted no time as Czech rider Hanika opened the day’s running. His first lap was good enough for second place but dropped to fourth after a pit stop. Back out on fresh rubber, the 25-year-old immediately picked up the pace, setting the team’s first sub 36 second lap of the event with a 1:35.732, 0.153 seconds quicker than his rivals and just two thousandths shy of the lap record.
With a successful first session completed; the number seven Yamaha was in the hands of Fritz once again as the second session got underway. The German rider took a steady approach to his first few laps but by the mid-way point of the session he had jumped up to second place with a 1:36.405. His next lap was even better, joining team-mate Hanika in the 1:35’s, enough to end the session 0.056 seconds shy of the top spot.
Niccolò Canepa made it a hat-trick of 1:35 lap times as he powered the R1 to first in the red riders’ session. The Italian flew to the top of the timesheets by over three tenths of a second, setting a remarkable 1:35.831 to help his team take back-to-back poles in Le Mans and their third pole in a row.
With all three riders on lap record pace, and the only squad to have all three of their riders under the 1:36’s in qualifying, the team are confident ahead of the FIM Endurance World Championship season opener following strong performances in both the day and night practice sessions.
The VRD IGOL Expériences team also had a strong showing in qualifying. Florian Alt, Florian Marino and Nicolas Terol recorded the fifth fastest time and will start the race as the second highest Yamaha team.
Moto Ain will line up ninth ahead of a quadruple of Yamahas including the Wojcik Racing Team 2 bike who will start 13th. The Wojcik Racing Team suffered a crash early on and recovered to 21st place.
The 44th Edition of the 24 Heures Motos commences at noon on Saturday, June 12th.