The Honda TT Legends race team is celebrating after finishing in a fighting 5th place at the final round of the Endurance World Championship.
The result at Le Mans meant the team completed every race of the year, one of only two teams to achieve the feat, and finished a creditable 4th in the championship.
The team, featuring Isle of Man TT winners John McGuinness and Cameron Donald alongside French rider Mathieu Gines, put together a consistent 24-hour race at the weekend to take another strong finish.
In characteristic style, McGuinness, Donald and Gines were consistent and steady aboard the ABS-equipped Honda Fireblade in a race that passed without incident. There were no mechanical issues and the team actually bettered the planned 26-stop strategy by pitting 25 times over 828 laps.
The tough 24-hour race was relatively uneventful for the majority of the top teams, with the exception of Bolliger Team Switzerland, who were forced to retire at the halfway stage. While SRC Kawasaki and SERT battled it out for the top two spots, BMW Motorrad Team Thevent and Yamaha GMT 94 fought for 3rd and 4th with the Honda TT Legends in 5th. The positions remained largely unchanged for the entire race.
The race was eventually won by 24-hour experts SRC Kawasaki, by one minute, but the victory could not prevent SERT collecting its 12th EWC title.
BMW Motorrad and Yamaha GMT 94 claimed 2nd and 3rd, with the Honda TT Legends just missing out on a top three by scoring 97 points – just one point off third place.
“It’s a fantastic achievement for us all really. We’ve worked well together, we’ve travelled the world together, we’ve had success at North West and the TT and we’ve done ourselves proud in endurance.”
“When you put 24-hours in and you’re that close to being top three in the world, it’s just frustrating. I tried my best. Every time I got on the bike I tried my best, whether it was in testing or racing.”
“I haven’t thrown the bike down the road once and the bike’s never missed a beat all the way through, so yeah, it’s fantastic for us all.”
“Qualifying wasn’t too bad for me and the fact that the top 6 teams tested at the circuit a few days before the event gave them quite a significant start. I lapped quicker than what I did 12 months ago, but I wasn’t happy with my best time, especially as I was unable to improve in the second session. Mathieu and Cameron did great jobs though and, overall, we were in a decent starting position.”
“The race was, unusually, pretty uneventful for all of the top teams and normally you'd expect one or two of them to hit trouble, but not this weekend - it was a great advert for the professionalism and skill of all of them.”
“We have to be proud of ourselves. It’s our second year in world endurance and we’re top four. I’m devastated that we didn’t get top three because a medal would have been really sweet, but at the end of the day, we made a good account of ourselves and we did our best.”
“We’re relative rookies to the discipline and the series so we should be proud. I’ve put a lot of work in, as has the whole team, and I got to work alongside some great people. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Race manager Russell Benney concluded:
“This result just proves the reliability of the Fireblade and the test that the ABS system has gone through. We’ve actually had seven consecutive finishes if you count the last two races of last season, so it terms of a test for the bike, the engine and the systems upon it, there is no bigger rigour that endurance racing.”
“This is superbike racing for 24 hours, multiplied to make 72 hours in a season. That’s 72 hours of consecutive racing for every component on the motorcycle and I can’t think of any better test than that. Of course, the riders and crew have done a brilliant job this year and we have worked so hard to achieve what we have. I think we can be proud.”
McGuinness is next in action at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough, for the International Gold Cup meeting on September 16th, where he will ride the Padgetts Hondas.