The 2019-2020 FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) opened its new season on September 21st-22nd, at Paul Ricard Circuit in France. The Bol D’or 2019 is the first 24 hour endurance race of the season. Naomichi Uramoto, racing full time in the Spanish Superbike Championship raced his first ever 24-hour race with his Spanish Superbike squad, SUZUKI JEG-KAGAYAMA, a collaboration team with former EWC rider, Juan Eric Gomez and Yukio Kagayama.
Without any prior testing at Bol D’or, the race week started on free practices on Tuesday to Thursday, with the first qualifying session on Thursday afternoon. Registered as Rider Yellow, Uramoto ran the second group in qualifying, marking the team’s best 1’55.264, putting himself 7th fastest in the group, showing speed from the beginning.
The 2nd Qualification session took place Friday morning, and Uramoto, eager to improve his time, unfortunately crashed in the first time attack lap, and was forced to sit out the session. His teammates could not run faster than Uramoto’s qualifying lap on Thursday thus the team average ended in 1’55.684, qualifying on the 11th grid. Considering the fact that this was the team’s first endurance race, it was a good result.
The 24 hour race started Saturday afternoon at 15:00 in wet condition. The weather did not look good, as it was forecasted to rain until the next day. Uramoto started the race, and showing speed made his way up to P7. He would continue his run in top 10. However, the rain made the race in difficult condition for the riders. At 18:00, after 3 hours after the start of the race, race direction made decision to suspend the race due to severe weather conditions. The race was decided to resume at 6 a.m. the next morning. The team positioned itself in 10th at the time of the suspension.
The race resumed at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, as scheduled, however mechanical trouble hits the team. The team made efforts to fix the trouble as early as possible, but when the bike returned to the track the position dropped drastically. And in the 16th hour, another trouble hits the team, and however the team was able to fix the problem, the position dropped below P30 by the time they got back on the track. From thereon, the riders carefully rode the bike, as a problem may hit again anytime. However, the riders were able to run until the finish of the race, taking the chequered flag in the 23rd position.
2019-2020 FIM Endurance World Championship
Round 1 Bol D’or 2019
#71 SUZUKI JEG-KAGAYAMA Results
Gregory Leblanc | Naomichi Uramoto | Chris Leesch
Rider Blue: Gregory Leblanc 1’55.321
Rider Yellow: Naomichi Uramoto 1’55.264
Rider Red: Chris Leesch 1’56.467
Team Average: 1’55.684 Position 11th
Race 298laps Position 23rd
“It was a good experience for me as a rider. It was a completely different endurance race as Suzuka, and I felt that this race was what endurance racing is all about. All the riders showed speed and good average laps, so the trouble was not what we wanted, but that is racing too. If I have a chance to race again here, I am definitely going to make my revenge. I would like to thank the sponsors, the team, Kagayama-san, and all the fans that supported me.”