After a gruelling 24-hour battle, the Honda TT Legends team finsihed the 76th annual Bol d’Or in 9th overall and 6th in the Endurance World Championship class, claiming 19 points.
The race took place in challenging conditions at the Magny Cours circuit in France, with intermittent rain and cold temperatures.
Isle of Man TT winners John McGuinness and Cameron Donald were joined by Simon Andrews, fastest Newcomer at the 2011 TT, in the Honda TT Legends line-up, with Donald taking the starting stint at 3pm on Saturday.
The team began well, maintaining a steady pace through the changeable weather to hold 5th until the early hours of Sunday. As dawn broke, Andrews was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop with a quick shift issue. The team re-joined in 6th.
As the weather deteriorated further, the Bol d’Or almost came to a premature end for the Honda TT Legends when Donald lost the front end and suffered a high speed crash on the back straight.
In line with championship rules, the uninjured Australian pushed the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade back to the pits, where the team repaired the extensive damage.
The bike returned to the race with McGuinness on board in less than 20 minutes, the slick repair allowing the team to maintain 6th in the EWC class, and 9th overall.
The final two hours passed without incident and the Honda TT Legends completed the race to claim 19 championship points.
17-times TT winner McGuinness said:
“Not the result we came for, but it was one of our strongest rides yet.”
“We were holding 5th and looking good in very difficult conditions. It was a gruelling race with temperatures as low as 2 or 3 degrees through the night. I got caught up in some of the bad weather and had to pit for tyres changes which meant I then had to do double stints with 50 or 60 laps at a time and that is hard work.”
“After Cameron slipping off at probably 150mph and the bike cart wheeling its way though the gravel, luckily Cam was alright and the team did amazing job at getting the bike back out there. We wanted to be a bit further up but at least we’ve picked up some world championship points.”
“After spending so long in the top six, we're all slightly disappointed to have ended up in 9th, but it's a punishing event and anything can happen to anyone at anytime, it was just our turn to suffer misfortune this time around. We had a few problems during practice and so were a little disappointed to have only qualified in 11th place, but the start position wasn’t that crucial when you think the race is 24 hours long and we all put in some good stints in the early stages to get ourselves inside the top six.”
“We were able to consolidate our position despite the harsh weather conditions, which saw rain and extremely cold temperatures make riding the bike tough going. This type of racing can bite you at anytime though and it was Cameron's bad luck to be out on the bike when the rain fell and down he went.”
“Luckily he was ok and he put in a great effort to bring the bike back to the pits and although we dropped back a few places, the boys in the pits did a superb job getting us back out on track and we were able to bag ourselves some valuable points.”
“After starting and finishing Le Mans last year I got to start and finish the Bol d’Or, which is really special. It was an absolute ordeal of a race. Everyone had their moments to shine and it was a big team effort, but unfortunately we just didn’t quite come up with the goods.”
“It was a little bit of bad luck and me skidding up the road didn’t help, but just to finish another 24-hour is a massive achievement.”
“It feels good to finish my first 24-hour race. Ten months ago I was lying in a hospital and my first race back I’ve completed a 24-hour so I feel triumphant and I’m pretty happy.”
“We were quick and we were safe, I did everything to the best of my ability and I’m going home with a smile on my face.”
Team boss Neil Tuxworth concluded:
“I think the best we could have expected was 5th in that race. We couldn’t have come any higher at the pace we were going at. We still finished 6th overall in the EWC race, which is good considering we lost time doing repairs after Cameron’s crash.”
“It’s certainly been the most difficult endurance race that we’ve done and the one with the most problems. We’re going to analyse everything that has happened, figure out where the issues lie and continue from there.”
“Hopefully we can have a better race the next time out.”
McGuinness will be back in action at Oulton Park on May 5-7, riding the Padgetts Honda in the British National Superstock 1000cc Championship.