Honda’s Endurance specialists Freddy Foray, Julien Da Costa and Sébastien Gimbert are in Le Mans and ready for the opening round of the Endurance World Championship.
On Monday and Tuesday, the riders were allowed to go out on track in Le Mans for the private practice sessions. Honda Racing’s test went even better than the pre-Le Mans test earlier in April – the team’s performances were stronger. Julien Da Costa had a crash at the end of Tuesday but luckily walked away uninjured.
The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP passed scrutineering successfully in the morning, but the team’s mechanics keep working hard on the bike to get everything prepared before the first official free practice session on Thursday.
Then, the team will take part into the first qualifying sessions for all the riders and finally the night practice session in the evening. This will enable the team to focus on its strategy for the race.
The second qualifying session will be on Friday morning and the combination of all the qualifying sessions will define the starting grid.
With very good fuel consumption and good performance from the Dunlop tires on the Bugatti circuit, Honda Racing is confident ahead of the start of the 38th edition of the 24h Motos in Le Mans on Saturday 18 April at 15:00.
Our aim is to win the race, that’s why we are here - or at the worst we want to be on the podium, but of course the important thing for the whole team is to first finish the race. We were really disappointed last year in this race; at the first race of the year we led for 21 hours and then broke down, so we don’t want this to happen again. We are better prepared than last year, there are some areas in which we still have some concerns as all teams, but we are certainly one of the strongest teams in the race.
The first positive point for now is the warm and sunny weather; we have to make the most of it because it is quite rare in Le Mans. The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is really performing since the pre-Le Mans test; this bike is easy to ride, agile and good at all levels, it has no negative part. There’s a lot of harmony between the three riders regarding the bike’s set-up as well as in our day-to-day relationships.
Tomorrow we’ll keep on working on the race set-up more than on the qualifying because our main goal is the championship – we have to provide ourselves with the means to make a good race if we want to win the championship.
There are lots of positive points after these first two days in Le Mans, we improved many things on the bike since the last test in Le Mans and the Honda is now really easy to ride. I hope that the next two days will confirm in a positive way what has already been tested since the beginning of the week. We still have work to do, but if we keep on working in the same direction, I think that we’ll be perfectly able to end up with a good result on Sunday afternoon.
Julien Da Costa
The team continues to work in line with the pre-Le Mans test, the bike’s set-up is better and better, it suits well all riders and even though I had a little crash yesterday, I think that we are all in a good rhythm for the race. We have a very good feeling on the bike as compared to last year. Tomorrow, we won’t work to get the pole position; we prefer to focus on our race configuration for the 24 hours.