Heroic comeback in Bol d’Or
Bol d'Or, France, September 19th - For his last appearance as the head of the SRC Kawasaki team, Gilles Stafler experienced a Bol d'Or rich in emotions, with de Puniet, Masson and Marino coming through from the back of the pack to offer him a last podium.
After having mulled it over it for a long time, Gilles Stafler finally decided to retire at the end of the year. For his last race at the helm of the SRC Kawasaki team, the green team boss was obviously dreaming of one last victory. But an electrical problem quickly put paid to his ambition. On the number 11 bike’s second relay, Florian Marino had to return to the box prematurely when his bike cut out at the end of the Mistral straight. To solve the problem, the SRC team technicians had to change the entire wiring harness. “We lost about 20 minutes," commented Stafler. “We restarted in about 30th place, ten laps behind.” While the DNFs of favourites such as the Suzuki of the SERT, the Yamaha of the YART or the official BMW made their task easier, Randy de Puniet, Etienne Masson and Florian Marino never gave up. Their determination allowed them to move up through the pack as the hours went by.
“We thought we could finish in the top six and we finally finished on the podium," said de Puniet at the finish. “I am really happy for Gilles, who deserved to retire with a result like this.” While celebrating its centenary, the Bol d'Or also allowed the FMR34 team to test a 100% renewable fuel designed and produced by TotalEnergies: Excellium Racing 100, a first in the history of the World Endurance Championship made possible by the involvement in the competition of the Pierre Mendès France high school from Montpelier. As part of their educational project, the students in charge of the FMR34 team gathered valuable information on the performance of this new fuel by reaching the finish line of the 85th Bol d'Or in 30th position. Their Yamaha R1 even finished second in the experimental class.