Courtesy of Yamaha Racing
After a dry spell of several years that have seen the YART Yamaha Official EWC Team denied victory on many occasions, today saw a change in fortune as riders Broc Parkes, Marvin Fritz and Max Neukirchner took a decisive win at the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring in Slovakia. Fellow Yamaha riders GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC’s David Checa, Mike Di Meglio and Niccolò Canepa joined YART in being a class above the competition, keeping the pressure on to wrap up the 8 hour endurance race in second position and lockout a Yamaha one-two.
The Slovakia ring is a circuit that suits the YART Yamaha YZF-R1, the team performed strongly there in 2017 and had looked favourites for the win until it was not to be. This year, they came even more determined to out ride any potential bad luck and accept nothing less than a victory. Australian Parkes took the start from second on the grid, and was almost immediately hit with a threat to victory as an electronic issue meant traction and wheelie control were out of action. The team worked hard through the repeated pit stops to try and re-set the bike but were finally able to ride above, Parkes, Fritz and Neukirchner giving the ride of their career to deliver the win, without the added electronic support. The only competition to come close were fellow Yamaha riders GMT94, though a different pit stop strategy gave YART the edge and the well deserved win.
Starting from fourth on the grid, GMT94 Yamaha were quickly able to find their way inside the top three where they remained a permanent presence, climbing then to second as the only team able to really match YART’s race pace for the race duration. The combination of a slightly different pitstop strategy and a hold up with the safety car in the later stages of the race ultimately meant second place on the podium was the only option. With Slovakia being one of the more challenging tracks for the team, the result is extremely positive, bringing GMT94 firmly up to second place, just one point behind their rivals for the championship title.
YART Yamaha Official EWC Team Manager
Finally our moment is here, it’s been a long time coming and is so well deserved and nearly not a reality due to bad luck again here. After the first five laps all our electronics failed, adding huge pressure to the riders to stay at a competitive speed without the electronic support. I told them and the team to stay calm throughout the early hours of the race, we could maybe take more risks at the end if we needed to. So finally we arrive at our well deserved victory and it is an amazing feeling. First I need to thank my family who give up so much to let me focus on this dream. Now my team, no time team works so hard to be competitive and be here at this level. I also need to thank Yamaha and of course Bridgestone, without who this wouldn’t be possible. My rider Broc has been amazing. He has led every EWC race for a while at some point! He really deserves this, and also Marvin and Max, who all worked together to calmly make this happen.
YART Yamaha Official EWC Team
We’ve been so close so many times, and something has happened to take it away form us, so this is it, it was definitely our time! We had a problem with the electronics in the first stint, wheelie and traction control shut off, so we basically tried to turn the bike on and off during the pit stops which cost us some time but it didn’t fix it. In the end we had a great strategy with the fuel and GMT94 had to pit one more time so it worked for us. Big thanks to Mandy and Yamaha who put in so much effort over the winter, we’ve shown we are the fastest team on track so to put it on paper with a win is perfect. Also big thanks to the team who’ve worked as hard as us to get to this win, and of course to Marvin and Max who kept it on track and on top despite the electric problems we’ve had. It really is a team effort that makes this result so special. Thanks also to Bridgestone for the great rubber that helped us win.
GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team Manager
We had a little bad luck with the safety car, so like this it was difficult to do one pit stop less, which made it difficult to win. Having said that I’m really happy for YART to have this victory after so many years without, and we had a good fight. We are very happy with the result; we are now one point behind our rivals for the Championship. In the next round in Oschersleben we can do something great, here in Slovakia it was very difficult for us, but the next round will be great for us and we will be ready. Two Yamahas on top of the podium is great so we can be happy and look forward. David and Mike were so fast today. Niccolò had a big crash on Tuesday evening on oil, and his elbow was not in good shape we spent some time in hospital and I was not sure he was able to ride. He did two very strong rides and then we wanted to stop him. Thanks to him, because it was difficult to ride like this. Davide and Mike then did a fantastic job to wrap it up, so a great result for us to move forward.
GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team
We know that we struggle a lot here in Slovakia, but Dunlop helped and made a good job and brought us a new rear tyre. In the end we were able to be really close to the front so it was not so bad. For sure before we came we knew we would struggle and we knew YART were stronger than us, last year we were lucky they had a problem so we won the race. This year their luck was also different and they were able to stop one less time than us so they won the race. In three years we have won every time in Oschersleben so we expect to do well there at the next round too. As always we will keep focused on the championship!