You are about to leave this website. Are you sure?

I agree, take me there

YART Yamaha Storm to Stunning Spa Pole

YART Yamaha Storm to Stunning Spa Pole

The Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team made it two in a row as they secured a stunning pole position at the iconic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps during Round 2 of the FIM Endurance World Championship, the 24H SPA EWC Motos.

The YART Yamaha team of Karel Hanika, Niccolò Canepa, Marvin Fritz and reserve rider Robin Mulhauser produced an incredible performance to claim their second consecutive EWC pole position of the season at the Belgian circuit. Spa-Francorchamps is making its comeback to the EWC calendar for the first time since 2001, with a new endurance-specific 6.985km layout providing a fresh challenge for all teams and riders. In EWC in 2022, there are five points up for grabs during qualifying, and with YART just eight points behind the championship leaders, the team knew it was essential to try and secure the maximum on offer.

The Austrian squad got off to a strong start during Thursday morning’s two-hour Free Practice session, with Fritz setting a 2:20.306 to top the timesheets. Unfortunately, just after setting that time, the German rider suffered a heavy crash with only a few minutes left in the session. He was taken to the medical centre for checks but luckily was not seriously hurt, although he did receive heavy bruising to his left wrist, and the bike was severely damaged.

Thursday’s first qualifying sessions saw the team switch to their second bike so they could work on repairing the crashed bike from earlier, with Canepa heading out wearing the Blue armband and setting a 2:21.453, which was good enough to finish in fifth overall. Fritz took over the #7 R1 for the Yellow session, and despite being battered and bruised from his earlier crash, he managed to record a 2:21.449, which was good enough for third. Handing the bike over to his teammate Hanika, the Czech rider got to work and set the fastest lap of the day with a 2:20.253 to put the team in a strong position. Night Practice followed, giving the riders the chance to ride at the circuit in the dark for the first time. They continued their solid work and ended the session in second overall with a 2:22.035.


The second qualifying sessions took place on Friday and saw dramatic improvements from all of the YART riders. Canepa was first up with the rest of the blue riders, and the 34-year-old managed to shave over two seconds off his best time with a 2:19.494 to finish in third overall, just 0.126s off the fastest rider. Fritz fought through the pain barrier once more, electing to head out for the Yellow session on older tyres to allow his teammates Canepa and Hanika the opportunity to use fresh rubber during their sessions, with only the top two riders' times counting towards the qualifying result. Despite this, incredibly, he still managed to top the session with a 2:19.826.

It was then time for Hanika to re-write the history books again. After setting a new lap record at the opening round in Le Mans, he was determined to secure pole for the team, although several red flags made it harder for the 26-year-old to find any rhythm during his session. Undeterred by the interruptions and with just a few minutes left on the clock, the green flags were waved, and Hanika went for it. On his final flying lap, he became the only rider to break the 2:19 barrier with a 2:18.845, 1.572s ahead of his nearest rival in the Red session and setting a new lap record in the process. By combining the times of Hanika and Canepa, YART finished with an average time of 2:19.170 to secure pole position by 0.533s and claim five championship points, taking their total to 60.

It was a strong showing from the Wojcik Racing EWC Team, with Dan Linfoot, Sheridan Morais, and Balint Kovacs combining to set an average time of 2:22.453 to qualify in eighth.  The Viltais Racing Igol Team of Florian Alt, Erwan Nigon, and Steven Odendaal will start from ninth after recording an average time of 2:22.726. Team Moto Ain’s Isaac Vinales, Claudio Corti, and Corentin Perolari combined to set a 2:22.947, which was good enough for tenth, with the Wojcik Racing Superstock Team of Marek Szkopek, Kevin Manfredi, and Danny Webb impressing to secure pole in their class and 12th overall with an average time of 2:23.948. Maco Racing Team’s Anthony West, Enzo Boulom, and Ladislav Chmelik set an average time of 2:24.343 and will start the 24-hour race from 14th, while the 3ART Best of Bike team's Nicolas Escudier, Martin Renaudin, and Matthieu Lagrive combined for a 2:25.160 which was good enough to qualify in 19th.

The Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team now turn their attention to the 24H SPA EWC Motos that kicks off at 1 pm CEST on Saturday, full of confidence. However, the weather could play a big part in the race as thunderstorms are scheduled across the weekend, and none of the teams has had any wet track time at the circuit.

Karel Hanika - 2:18.845

Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“I am thrilled! This result is perfect for us and is down to the hard work that the whole team has put in. My teammates also did a great job. Marvin helped me during the test to learn the track as it was new to me, and Niccolò also helped me improve some points. Thanks to them, Robin and the whole team, I could make a really good lap time today. My qualifying session wasn’t easy, as we had a lot of red flags, but in the end, I found some space on track and managed to do the perfect lap, and I am really happy to get the lap record for the team. The race will be interesting, as you have to stay completely focused, as it is very easy to make a mistake here. We will have to wait and see what the weather does, as I have not ridden here in the wet yet, but I am looking forward to the race, and we aim to bring the bike home to score as many points as possible.”

Niccolò Canepa - 2:19.494

Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“We are delighted with pole position, and we are feeling very strong. Honestly, we have been working so hard since last season, and it is really starting to pay off. We had a great result in Le Mans, and we think we can do well here at Spa too. We solved the starting issue we had last time out, and the track really suits the R1. It is an amazing circuit, and we have worked hard all week to ensure we are as prepared as possible for the race. The biggest question mark is the weather, Karel and I have not ridden here in the wet, but luckily Marvin has. If it rains, it will be tough because we have no data, but we know the R1 and the Bridgestone tyres perform well in the wet, so we are confident we can perform well whatever the conditions during the race.”

Marvin Fritz - 2:19.826

Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“I am proud of the whole team and my teammates. They all did a fantastic job, and Karel did a sensational lap. Honestly, I am just happy that I am okay. I was worried after my crash yesterday that I might not be able to ride. I still had quite a bit of pain in my wrist and leg today, but even with old tyres – I had a front tyre that had done twenty laps and a rear tyre that had done ten – and I was just 0.9s behind Karel’s new lap record, which I was pleased with. Due to my crash, I decided to give Karel and Niccolò the fresh tyres, as only two riders' times count towards the overall result, and I wasn’t sure how my wrist would, so I am very happy with the result. I can’t wait for the race tomorrow, and hopefully, my wrist will be okay. I raced at Spa two years ago in the wet, so I have some experience of what the track is like, and the Bridgestone tyres worked really well, so I think that no matter what the weather does, we can be very strong.”

Robin Mulhauser

Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team – Reserve Rider

“Today was awesome! Everyone in the team has worked so hard, and each of my teammates was fast, even Marvin with his injuries, which is impressive. Karel’s lap was amazing and showed our potential, and everyone is confident we can take this pace into the race. I raced here a few years ago, but never in the wet. So if it rains as is forecast for the race, it will be interesting, but I understand the grip levels here are good in the wet, and we know how good the Bridgestone tyres are, so we are looking forward to the race.”