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19/04/2022 News

A race rich in information

Le Mans, France, April 19th 2022 - With the Kawasaki SRC team not having had time to develop their new bike before the opening round of the World Endurance Championship, it took advantage of the 24h Motos Le Mans, supplied with competition fuel TotalEnergies, to prepare for the rest of the season.

For Gilles Stafler's team, the season’s first meeting turned into a race against the clock. With their new bike arriving late in the workshop, the Kawasaki SRC team, long-time partner of Elf Lubricants and again this year, could not do any testing before the pre-Mans tests organised just three weeks before the start of the EWC championship. Added to that, the No 11 Kawasaki benefits this season from with the Magneti Marelli electronics package, as used in World Superbikes and the fact that Gilles Stafler has completely revised his team by recruiting Florian Marino and Etienne Masson and recalling Randy de Puniet. Commented Randy: “We never managed to be fast enough with a bike that suited us. And at the beginning of the race, we suffered with the Dunlops compared to the Bridgestones, because of the heat.”

Eighth on the grid, the Kawasaki was nevertheless in contention for a podium finish as night fell. Unfortunately, at the halfway point of the race, a valve spring broke. “We could have pulled out then, but instead the mechanics decided to change the cylinder head," added de Puniet. “It was important to be able to restart and rack up some kilometres and experience with this new bike in order to prepare the rest of the season.” The Kawasaki SRC bike plummeted down the rankings after more than an hour in the pits, but managed to cross the final finish line in eighteenth position. “This has been a learning race for us," concluded Gilles Stafler. “We knew the weekend would be difficult because of our lack of time on the bike and problems with the new electronics. But in the end, I was pleasantly surprised by our pace at the beginning of the race. And we were also able to test under race conditions after our engine failure." With 22 points, the Kawasaki SRC team is now in eighth position overall.