Le Mans (AFP)

The Suzuki of the Yoshimura-SERT was in the race alone in the lead, eleven hours after the start of the 44th edition of the 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans, on Saturday on the Bugatti circuit, while the Yamaha N.7 of the YART, struck down by a breakdown, abandoned.

The images released by the organizers spoke for themselves: the mechanics of the official Yamaha team had completely dismantled the N.7 motorcycle, the engine was open and parts on the ground, in the stable box.

At 11:30 p.m., after more than an hour of effort, the decision was taken: abandonment for the motorcycle of the Austrian team which, around 10 p.m., was running in second position, one lap or less from the Suzuki driven by master by Sylvain Guintoli, Xavier Siméon and Gregg Black.

This abandonment is good for the defending Honda, now second, with Mike Di Meglio in particular on his handlebars but four laps behind the N.1.

Just one lap behind, the Kawasaki N.11 led by David Checa, Jérémy Guarnoni and Erwan Nigon is doing well thanks to its consistency.

Conversely, the private Kawasaki of Tati Team Beringer Racing, which had elbowed in the middle of the official motorcycles at the start of the race, at the top of the classification, had yet another mishap: a third crash, that of Sébastien Suchet, towards 10:30 p.m.

The last, synonymous with abandonment for N.4.

For the second time in the race, the safety car had to intervene, just enough time for the N.4 driver to bring his mount back to the paddock.

All this allowed the BMW N.37 to continue its incredible comeback after a crash at the start of the race: shortly before midnight, it was in 5th place, 13 laps behind the leader, but only one lap behind the Kawasaki N.8 of Team Bolliger Switzerland, just in front of her.

In the Superstock category, the Yamaha N.66 occupied the top of the standings, and 6th place overall.

As night fell on the Bugatti, temperatures dropped.

The top teams were approaching 400 completed laps, which is already more than 1,500 km covered on this 4.185 km long circuit.

Among the many retirements was Moto Ain's Yamaha R1 N.96, driven by Randy de Puniet, Roberto Rolfo and Robin Mulhauser, which suffered a mechanical breakdown after a thunderous start to the race.

© 2021 AFP