Dunlop leads the EWC standings heading into 12 Hours of Estoril finale
SERT and BMW fighting for the World Championship
Dunlop prepared for short-notice challenge in Portugal
Learnings taken on wet weather tyre performance
Two of Dunlop’s lead endurance racing teams have a strong chance of winning the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) at this weekend’s 12 Hours of Estoril, and Dunlop has been hard at work to prepare as much as possible for a championship-winning performance.
A new 12-hour endurance race at Estoril, located outside the Portuguese capital Lisbon, will round out the 2019-20 EWC season this weekend, just four weeks after the 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans.
Back then, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) finished in a well-earned podium position, thus holding onto a healthy championship lead heading to Portugal. This weekend, Xavier Simeon, Etienne Masson and Gregg Black will take turns riding the No. 2 Suzuki GSX-R1000.
With additional points on offer for the last race of the season, five Dunlop teams are in contention for the championship. Another of these is BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, which is fourth in the championship standings but well within reach of the lead. The BMW S 1000 RR’s rider lineup is slightly changed, with top Dunlop road racing star Peter Hickman standing in for Ilya Mikhalchik alongside Kenny Foray and Markus Reiterberger.
In the Superstock class, meanwhile, Dunlop’s championship charge is led by No Limits Motor Team. The Italian outfit finished second at the 24 Heures Motos and is now third in the Superstock standings. Its Suzuki will be shared by Luca Scassa, Luca Vitali and Christopher Kemmer as they fight for their World Cup title.
Preparing for a new race on short notice
The EWC season was scheduled to finish last weekend with the Bol d’Or, the traditional 24-hour endurance race now held at Circuit Paul Ricard in southern France. This changed in August, when it was replaced by the new 12 Hours of Estoril.
This change on short notice has posed challenges for all in the paddock, but Dunlop is confident it’s well prepared for whatever the Portuguese track throws at it. Wim Van Achter, Motorsport Manager, explains:
“We know Estoril from our experience as exclusive supplier to Moto2 and Moto3, but they last raced there in 2012. It’s also been resurfaced recently, and due to the short notice, we were not able to schedule a test session. This means the first practice sessions during the week will be vital for gathering data and building knowledge, so we’ll work closely with all of our teams to help them as much as possible. We have a wide variety of tyres that excel with any conditions - dry or wet - so we’ll certainly be able to equip our teams with the right tools for the job. We’ve had a strong season so far and a very positive result in the 24 Heures Motos, so we’re positive.”
One of Dunlop’s championship contenders, Wojcik Racing Team, got some practice at Estoril last weekend. Dunlop is the exclusive tyre supplier to the Campeonato Nacional de Velocidade (CNV), a Portuguese-based sprint championship, and Wojcik entered the races at Estoril on Saturday and Sunday (19-20 September) to prepare for the EWC race. Broc Parkes won one race, while he shared a double podium with Sheridan Morais in the other. Both riders will fight for the outright win this weekend.
Ready for varied conditions
After logging some mileage in wet conditions at the 24 Heures Motos last month, Dunlop is also confident of improved pace and longevity if it rains in Portugal. Van Achter adds: “We learnt a lot about our wet tyres at Le Mans, and we’ve got some valuable data if needed this weekend. Estoril is near the coast and can have changeable weather. The forecast looks dry, but we are ready for all weather challenges.”
The 12 Hours of Estoril gets underway at 08:30 local time (09:30 CEST) on Saturday and will run uninterrupted until 20:30 (21:30 CEST). On-track action begins on Thursday morning, while Qualifying will be held on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.
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