The team was composed of two very experienced endurance riders: Grégory Fastré, second at the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans, and Richard Hubin, World Champion Endurance in 1983. The two riders from Verviers didn’t get it for free. They signed for the pole position but had engine troubles as from the warm-up, which forced the team to change the engine. Two hours later, they were ready for the first start of the ECS 2016 season, but a nozzle problem decided otherwise and forced them to start from the pitlane for the warm-up round.
At 19.00, it’s the Kawasaki n°59 from team Alf’s that takes the best start. But very soon the lead is taken over by the Englishmen from team Neate Racing, with a very excited Steven Neate. A bit of a surprise, especially as the Honda 17 is registered in the ‘Classic’ category, despite the favourites such as team Force and Sweatshop Phase One, registered in the ‘Legend’ category. Perfect example of the good functioning of the new regulations DG Sport has introduced this year.
The n°17 quickly gets chased by the Suzuki from Fastré-Hubin, which takes the second position as from the fifth round, the n°1 from team Sweatshop Phase One follows on third position. At the lead of the race, everyone keeps their place until the Safety-Car gets on the track due to a crash from team Alf’s with their Suzuki. The tank detaches and takes fire.
The intervention of the security vehicle allows team Force to make up for their lost time. The Suzuki 56 takes the lead of the peloton in the 43rd round and stays there till the end of the race, with the n°17 of Neate in his pace. Both teams finish in the same round, with a 30 second gap between their arrival. The Kawasaki from Racing Team Hampe Club 14 (Nicolas de Dieuleveult/Christian Haquin) abandon merely a few minutes before the end of the race, they were riding in 7th position.
In the Classic 1000 category the victory goes to the Frenchmen from AML Racing (Richard Weber/Pierre d’Imbleval) in front of the Germans from Classic Boxer Endurance (Tobias Kage/Andreas Kollman/Ralf Lewien) on their BMW and the Belgians Eric Brun and Marc Detournay from team Vulcanet. «My body hurts all over but my head is in the clouds », this last one shares with us upon his arrival. «We almost decided not to participate and then we finish on the podium. The entire team’s efforts are rewarded with this nice third place.» Also note the nice results of Racing Team ASD 117 from Nico Bonifacio – Matteo Giordani – Daniele Sasselli, winners in the 750 TT category, and 18yh in the general ranking with their «small» Suzuki 750cc.
It’s no surprise that the duo Hubin-Fastré took a triple this weekend: pole position, best lap and final victory in the principal category. But all title competitors where there for the first round, starting with Peter Linden and Ian Simpson from team Sweatshop Phase One, but also Neate Racing, who will be assisted by John McGuinness for the next race that will take place in the beginning of July in the framework of the Bikers’Classics at Spa-Francorchamps.
So note this next appointment in your agenda. «If all goes as smoothly at Spa as it went at Le Castellet, we will be very pleased», says Carolane Jupsin, in charge of the European Classic Series at DG Sport. «We had a perfect weekend, no troubles, no major crashes and a fantastic atmosphere. The new categories Classic-Legend worked very well and made the race more interesting. What more can we ask for, maybe even more participants next year? »
Information and complete results: www.europeanclassicseries.eu
Full results also on FIM Europe website: www.fim-europe.eu/events/175