The YART Yamaha Team of Karel Hanika, Niccolò Canepa, Marvin Fritz, and reserve-rider Robin Mulhauser are determined to get revenge at the 24H SPA EWC Motos after joy turned to despair during the 2022 edition of the race. Recovering from a tricky start, the team had mounted a sensational fightback to take the lead just before the 18-hour mark, only to see a technical issue force them to DNF and effectively end their championship aspirations.
Heading to Belgium in 2023 with 65 points up for grabs at each 24-hour race, the Australian squad are currently second in the EWC overall standings with 54 points after a stunning second place at the Le Mans 24 Heures Motos. The team is confident in following that result with another strong performance after topping Tuesday’s official test at Spa with a 2:19.657, 0.873s ahead of their nearest rival, as they look to lift their first title since 2009.
During the test, all three main riders showed excellent one-lap pace and managed to run extensive race simulations as they worked on finetuning the electronics setup and front-end feeling on the Bridgestone-shod #7 R1, while reserve-rider Mulhauser tested and prepared parts for the race. Their advantage at the top was even more impressive when you consider YART were one of the few leading EWC teams not to previously take part in a private test at the circuit in 2023.
The EWC returns to the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for the second year in a row with the 24H SPA EWC Motos after a 21-year break, reviving the spirit of the famous 24 Heures de Liege that run until 2001.
The return of the historic Belgian track to the endurance calendar saw it undergo several changes to the layout to meet motorcycle racing safety requirements, including expanded run-off areas at several corners, repositioning of some safety barriers, and a minor realignment of Turn 9.
The new endurance-specific layout is 6.985km, making it the longest track on the calendar in 2023. It is also one of the fastest and features a combination of long straights, high-speed sections, and undulating elevation changes that make it one of the world's most challenging circuits, with YART’s Hanika the current outright lap record holder with a 2:18.845 set in qualifying last year.
It was not just YART on the podium at Le Mans in April, as the 3ART Best of Bike Yamaha team of Martin Renaudin, Ludovic Cauchi, and Mathieu Lagrive were also celebrating after they claimed second in the FIM Endurance World Cup and ninth overall in front of their home fans, scoring 53 points in the SST class and leaving France second in the Cup Standings.
Wojcik Racing Team EWC 77’s Sheridan Morais, Isaac Vinales and Mathieu Gines will be looking for a top-ten finish after securing 12th at Le Mans, while the Maco Racing Team of Anthony West, Enzo Boulom and Bálint Kovács are hoping to improve on their 32nd place finish last time out in France.
The KM Motos squad of Lucas Mahias, Florian Marino and Bastien Mackels, and the Moto Ain Yamaha EWC Supported Team of Claudio Corti, Corentin Perolari, and Roberto Tamburini will be aiming to kickstart their seasons after they were both forced to retire from the race in Le Mans.
The action at the 2023 24H SPA EWC Motos kicks off on Friday with a one-hour Free Practice session at 10:00 am local time (UTC+2) before the 1st Qualifying Practice Session between 12:00-14:00 and the 2nd Qualifying Practice Session from 15:15-17:15. Then there is a 90-minute Night Practice session between 21:30-23:00 before Saturday’s 24-hour race kicks off at 14:00 with the iconic “Le Mans” running start.