Good morning everyone! My name is Arkadiusz “Archie” Serowiecki and I would like to invite you to my series of monthly summaries during the break between the 2023 and 2024 seasons in FIM EWC – in the monthly summary, I will describe what has changed over the last month in the EWC paddock and a few of my words on this subject. Also in the near future I will start presenting my point of view in columns, where I will not only discuss Endurance Motorcycle topics, but also WSBK or MotoGP.
4 Rounds as in 2023, but there are changes!
At the end of October, a new calendar for the 2024 season in the FIM EWC was announced – two 8-hour races and two 24-hour marathons. First, on April 20-21, we see in Le Mans during the 24 Heuers Motos. In June, or more precisely on June 8, we pack our bags and visit the treacherous Ardennes, i.e. an 8-hour race to Spa. A month break and a Japanese classic – the 8-hour Suzuki on July 21, yes July. And we end, as usual, with a hit at the Paul Ricard Bol D’or – September 14-15.
Director of Sports Promotion at Warner Bros Discovery Sports, Jean-Baptiste Ley, made it clear that the long-term path of WBDS* is to have 5 rounds in the future, but it must be financially achievable for the teams.
“We are pleased to present the calendar of the 2024 FIM Endurance World Championship, in which we will continue to count on legendary events on famous race tracks. While extending the calendar to a fifth round remains a long-term goal, it is important that we present a schedule that is accessible and feasible in practical and financial terms. The 2024 calendar meets both of these goals and we look forward to another action-packed season. ” – Jean-Baptiste Ley
The biggest changes in the 2024 season are for the Superstock class (STK/SST), where Japan is still optional, but in the 2024 season it will count the 3 best results of the season – so theoretically it looks like teams from Japan may appear, because then such teams will start in Le Mans, Suzuka and Bol D’or, and they will give up Spa and have 3 point-scoring races – in the case of Europe it will be the opposite, Suzuka will be the race that does not count, but according to my information, the teams are interested in traveling to Japan to just if something happened in the earlier rounds, go to Japan and get a few valuable points.
Archie’s assessment: On the one hand, he considers shortening the race at Spa to be a good move in terms of finances for the teams – because there is no need to prepare 3 racing engines for 24-hour marathons like in 2023, but he still feels disgusted knowing that the races at SPA gave something and it was nice I watched it – I understand the reservations about the conditions for the SPA, but oh well… the decision has been made and we have to adapt. I consider the changes to the Regulations excluding one round out of 4 and the possibility of taking part in 4 races for the superstock class as a good move to encourage more teams to take part in the full EWC series.
Lucas Mahias from EWC to WSSP
Lucas Mahias, 2017 champion in SSP, driver of the new KM99 project, in the 2023 season he switches to Yamaha R6 again to the well-known WSBK/WSSP and EWC paddock – GMT94 – the decision to change the series was a shock for some, but the rank of SSP is higher than EWC, especially knowing that he is joining a top team under the Yamaha brand. This is what Christophe Guyot, head of GMT94, and Lucas Mahias say about joining.
“We are delighted to welcome Lucas Mahias. Following the podiums achieved by Corentin Perolari in Australia, Valentin Debise (twice in France) and Jules Cluzel (23 podiums and 7 wins) at GMT94, we reinforce our commitment to take the national categories to the very top of World Supersport. Lucas will rely on a team that can combine the skills of members and players from different backgrounds to win and share experiences. Lucas’ talent, energy and ambition are assets that motivate the entire team and raise hopes for the young generation of French people.”
“I am extremely happy to join GMT94 in 2024. I know this team well, I have raced with them several times in endurance races and scored some points that helped them win the title in 2016. I also won with them in the French Supersport championship (Albi’s). I want to thank Christophe and all his partners for believing in my potential as much as I believe in them. We have all the cards in hand to have a great season.” – Lucas Mahias
OA: For Lucas, returning to SSP means returning to the top elite – a very smart move. EWC will always welcome Lucas, and the GMT94 team cannot refuse. I think he may be somewhere in the top 8 at the end of the season.
KM99 – New lineup for 2024, Randy De Puniet gets on Yamaha!
Due to the departure of Lucas Mahias from KM99, a place was freed up for the 2024 season – so KM99 decided to rebuild the squad and I must admit – the squad is built on strong structures. Florian Marino remained in the team and was joined by Jeremy Guarnoni, who worked for the BMW factory team in 2023, and Randy De Puniet, who rode for the Kawasaki factory team in 2023.
Team manager Mario Kupper makes it clear in his words that the 2023 season was a learning and difficult season for them, but they enter the next season with experience.
“2023 was a year of learning and challenges for us. We enter 2024 with greater maturity and self-confidence. We are excited to continue working with Florian Marino, a consistent performer from last year. He will undoubtedly be a top cyclist again this year. After Lucy’s departure, it was crucial to form a tight trio. I am delighted to welcome Randy De Puniet and Jérémy Guarnoni to the KM99 team. Both of these riders were on factory bikes last year. Their arrival reflects the seriousness and ambition of our project. With the continued support of Yamaha and Dunlop, we can’t wait to hit the track for our first tests and the start of our new partnership.
OA: As for the team itself, they were too ambitious from the beginning because they aimed very high, but I understand their approach, because every person in the paddock wants to achieve success. Florian and Jeremy will be a very good shot for the Riders, I have concerns about Randi – for the last few years, he has not been able to find a place in the EWC teams – this is the 5th season where he changes the team – for me this is a strange move by the Manager from Randy, where they are better in the paddock – they finished 2023 in 10th place in the general classification, being the third Yamaha in the ranking and the second if only private teams are counted. It’s worth watching KM99 because it will be fun there.
WÓJCIK RACING TEAM takes on Honda.
The Polish Wójcik Racing Team used Yamaha motorcycles from the beginning in 2017 until the 2023 season. For the 2024 season, a plan was announced to change the brand from Yamaha to Honda – the team’s decision was certainly difficult, knowing that they had achieved many successes with Yamaha – Two podiums at Bol D’or, double podiums at 12H Estoril in 2020, 4th place twice in the season in the Superstock class (19/20, 23) and 4th place in the 2019/20 season in the EWC class.
It was also announced that there will be continuation of cooperation with Pirelli in the EWC class, and in Superstock with Dunlop (Dunlop is the only tire supplier in Superstock until the end of 2024). The team is not suspending any project, so we will see motorcycles in both the EWC and SuperStock classes.
“However, the 2024 season means the beginning of a new adventure for us. – Grzegorz Wójcik – WRT Team Leader – We are very excited about the new challenge, learning the new package and working with Honda. We realize that we have a difficult task ahead of us, but we have a good, experienced team and great drivers, so we can’t wait for the first tests and the race in Le Mans.”
OA: The 2024 season will have to be treated in the WRT as a “Zero” season – the new Honda has a chance to improve its results in the WRT and provide better solutions than Yamaha, but I will not expect top results right away, as another team #333 VILTAÏS RACING did (here I recommend follow the 2023 season of the #333 VILTAÏS RACING team – 5th place in 2023 after changing the motorcycle to a Honda) – it will certainly be a difficult time of winter work for the team – get to know the motorcycle, the secrets and develop new procedures and learn how to operate it during races
Bolliger #8 No changes in the main lineup, new reserve
One of the oldest private teams in the EWC decided to trust the 2023 team and signs a contract for the 2024 season with Nico Thoni, Marcel Brenner and Pedro Romero, and a new addition from the paddock of the FIM Moto2 European Championship, who finished fourth in 2022 – Alex Toledo .
For 22-year-old Alex, this will be his first year in Endurance, but the team had the opportunity to test and it opens the way for him to the Endurance paddock. Kevin Bolliger, the team’s manager, said a few words about Alex:
“Álex has already tested with us, so we know he is fast. He finished fourth in the FIM Moto2 European Championship last year and eighth this year, and also took part in three world championship races. He needs to learn endurance racing, but he did a really good job in testing, he’s a good rider and fits well into the team. I’m sure we have a good quartet of players for 2024.”
He also added about how his team currently operates and compares itself to the Swiss Formula 1 team – Sauber.
“Taking a young rider is a challenge, but in EWC the riders are getting younger and younger and the young guys are really fast. If riders like Álex and Pedro want to stay in EWC, they can expect a long career with us, but if they are really fast, they can make a bigger step towards a factory team. I’m taking a bit of a risk, but Team Bolliger is like Sauber in Formula 1. They took in young drivers and helped them develop before they moved to the works team. If the same thing happens to one of our players, we can be proud of the opportunity we gave him. It would be an honor for us to work together and show a young athlete how to race, prepare and move forward. It’s a good opportunity for both sides.”
OA: It’s true, Bolliger is a team that provides compensation for Riders, so that with their determination they can break into top teams, including Kawasaki (Bolliger rides Kawasaki) – the temperament and determination that Alex and Pedro Romero have fit the Swiss very well and I think they will succeed achieve their plan for the 2024 season.
Firefighters Announce the Lineup – Return of Baptiste Guitett from the EWC class to Superstock
Team 18 Sapeurs-Pompiers, the popular French firefighters, announce the line-up for the 2024 season. Philipp Steinmayr and Axel Maurin leave the team and are replaced by Baptiste Guitett and a new competitor Maxime Pellizotti, who rode in 2023 in the PitLane Endurance #86 team in the Superstock class. Enzo De La Vega remained in the team, who, together with the firefighters, won 10th place in the 2023 season. A year ago, the firefighters won the World Cup and have ambitions to win it again in 2024. Additionally, in the 2024 season they have a new reserve, the French Superbike champion, Ludovic Cauchi.
In a short statement, team manager Yannick Bureau tells us what their season was like this year and what their plans are for next season:
” Compared to the 2022 season, 2023 was not a perfect season for us. However, thanks to Yamaha’s unprecedented efforts to address the oil leak problem with a Bol d’Or approved solution, we are once again confident in our pursuit of the podium and a return to victory in the Superstock class, which is our priority target for 2024. The competition is but difficult because our rivals are very strong. We have many, many good teams in the Superstock class and winning is measured by the value of the competition “
OA: Yannick is actually right here, the competition in the Superstock class is becoming more and more even, the stakes are fighting for every second during the race. Yamaha had problems with oil (remember exploding filters) but the problem was solved at Bol D’or and a new system approved by the FIM and Yamaha worked. The firefighters were and are an important team in the fight for the World Cup and they cannot be underestimated. The squad in the 2024 season is very strong, and there will be no soft play with them.
In a “short” summary, I presented to you what was happening in November in the EWC paddock, and this is just the beginning – we are receiving more and more information from teams, federations and more. See you with the December summary after the holidays!