The YART Yamaha team are raring to go at Le Mans after a 2022 season that promised so much but eventually saw them finish sixth overall in the championship, despite routinely being the fastest bike on the grid. Once again, consistency is key for the Austrian squad in 2023, retaining the same lineup of Karel Hanika, Niccolò Canepa, Marvin Fritz, and reserve rider Robin Mulhauser as they look to lift the EWC trophy for the first time since 2009.
The team enjoyed a superb preseason, working hard to solve the issues that affected them last year, focusing on finetuning the electronics package on the R1 and working with Bridgestone on some new tyre options. During their first test of the year, they smashed the outright lap record at the Automotodrom Grobnik in Rijeka, Croatia, before setting a new all-time EWC fastest lap at the Bugatti Circuit during the official Le Mans Pre-Test.
It was Czech rider Hanika who beat his own lap record on the Bridgestone-shod Yamaha R1, with a 1:34.759 around the 4.185 km track, over a tenth quicker than the 1:34.878 he set in last year’s qualifying, a feat made even more impressive by the fact the 26-year-old is still recovering from surgery he had on his right shoulder in December.
Building on this, they also made the most of the two Private Practice sessions held at the track on Tuesday ahead of the race weekend, focusing on longer runs before Italian Canepa set a 1:35.833 in the dry morning session to top the combined timesheets. Then, when the rain came in the afternoon, the team found a good setup for the #7 R1 in the wet to back up their dry pace.
YART have an excellent record at the Le Mans 24 Heures Motos and will be looking to make it four consecutive pole positions when qualifying takes place on Thursday and Friday. Their aim for the race is to try and go one better than last year when they finished in second, although with 65 points up for grabs - 5 for qualifying, 40 for finishing first, plus another 10 points for the leading team at the eight and 16-hour marks - they are conscious that the most important goal is to reach the finish to ensure the best possible start to the season.