The Honda Endurance Racing team got its Bol d’Or campaign off to a strong start after qualifying sixth fastest in two highly competitive sessions, as round one of the 2018-2019 FIM Endurance World Championship roared into life this week at Circuit Paul Ricard.

Keen to kick off the new season in style Honda’s endurance specialists Sébastien Gimbert, Gregory LeBlanc and Erwan Nigon have been in the mix across all sessions aboard the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.

Throughout the final qualifying the Honda trio looked strong and confident at the 5.673km circuit. The teams’ reserve rider Jan Halbich added to their average time, topping the timesheets in his session. With a combined average best time of 1:55.900, the Honda squad was just 0.995s from pole position

The Bol d’Or starts tomorrow Saturday 15 September at 1500hrs local time (GMT+1) and will finish at 1500hrs on Sunday 16 September. For all the real time information and news on the Honda Endurance Racing team, follow @HondaRacingCBR on Twitter.

Sébastien Gimbert

Sébastien Gimbert 111

I am very happy ahead of tomorrow’s 24-hour race. Today in the final session we didn’t have a qualifying tyre and our best lap time was on the race tyre, so it’s looking good for tomorrow! My teammates Erwan and Gregory are both very fast and together we have a good combined time for the race start. The Fireblade is working very well, it’s very easy and smooth to ride, the engine is very fast and with Dunlop our times are consistent. The work the team has done on the CBR is very good and I think we now have the best setting and race strategy we have ever had. I am very confident for the race tomorrow.

Honda Endurance Racing
Gregory LeBlanc

Gregory LeBlanc 111

For me yesterday was better for my session, today I had two red flags and the programme was disrupted a little. We rode with the race tyre and the lap time is good! Sure we don’t have pole position but we go from a good place and we can be in the front group from the start. I was pushing for my best lap time and it was all going well, but a rider crashed in front of me and I had to roll off, then we had the red flags so I wasn’t able to get another clear run. But you know this is qualifying and we have a lot of experience with the team and also Erwan and Seb, so tomorrow is the race and I honestly think we are good and ready for action!

Honda Endurance Racing
Erwan Nigon

Erwan Nigon 111

The feeling not so bad, yesterday I had some difficulty, as there was a lot of traffic during my stint on-track. But today was another day and I am happy with the session, I ride my best level so I find good lines and the Honda CBR worked well, I am happy with the Dunlop tyres and we’re ready for the race. Thank you really to everyone for all the hard work to get us to P6. We made some changes to the setting and the result is that we are faster today and we’re very happy with this, so now we rest and get ready for the race tomorrow.

Honda Endurance Racing
Jonny Twelvetrees

Jonny Twelvetrees

Team Manager

We’re sixth in the combined timings and I’m really pleased with how things are going for us already here at the Bol d’Or. We have made progress in every session and we’re always moving forward. Yesterday was more of a test in qualifying as we had a few things to try, but we learnt a lot and along with the riders’ feedback we made changes that really benefitted us today. The Fireblade is feeling comfortable for all the guys and is flexible with tyre wear, which is a great sign ahead of tomorrow’s race. Greg is still recovering from injuries he picked up a few months ago, but he’s solid on the bike and putting in good times. Jan our reserve man is really impressing us again and he topped his session this morning. Of course Séb and Erwan are pushing hard with solid times and overall we’re really pleased. With some preparation this afternoon and some pit stop practices I think we can really be on the attack tomorrow.

Honda Endurance Racing
Bol d’Or

Circuit Paul Ricard, France

FIM EWC 2018-2019, Round 1

Friday 14 Sep 2018, 12:23 UTC
# Team Constructor Constr. Time/Gap
1 Team SRC Kawasaki France Kawasaki 1:54.905
2 F.C.C. TSR Honda France Honda +0.330
3 YART Yamaha Yamaha +0.350
4 ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance BMW +0.496
5 Suzuki Endurance Racing Team Suzuki +0.837
6 Honda Endurance Racing Honda +0.995
7 WEPOL Racing Yamaha +1.301
8 Yamaha Viltaïs Pierret Experiences Yamaha +1.552
9 Team 33 Coyote Louit Moto Kawasaki +1.994
10 GERT 56 HMT by re speedbikes BMW +2.307
11 3ART - YAM AVENUE - MOTO TEAM 95 Yamaha +2.391
12 Bolliger Team Switzerland Kawasaki +2.397
13 Junior Team LMS Suzuki Suzuki +2.429
14 TECMAS - BMW BMW +2.574
15 Mercury Racing BMW +2.768
16 Moto Ain Yamaha +2.882
17 TATI TEAM BEAUJOLAIS RACING Kawasaki +3.018
18 BMRT 3D ENDURANCE Kawasaki +3.088
19 Maco Racing Team Yamaha +3.241
20 No Limits Motor Team Suzuki +3.399
21 Team April Moto Motors Events Suzuki +3.407
22 Team 18 Sapeurs-Pompiers Kawasaki +3.574
23 National Motos Honda +3.858
24 AM Moto Racing Competition Suzuki +3.981
25 MOTOTECH EWC TEAM Yamaha +4.127
Thursday 13 Sep 2018, 21:21 UTC
# Team Constructor Constr. Time/Gap
1 Team SRC Kawasaki France Kawasaki 1:56.372
2 Team 33 Coyote Louit Moto Kawasaki +0.716
3 F.C.C. TSR Honda France Honda +0.872
4 YART Yamaha Yamaha +1.130
5 ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance BMW +1.175
6 WEPOL Racing Yamaha +1.311
7 Suzuki Endurance Racing Team Suzuki +1.315
8 GERT 56 HMT by re speedbikes BMW +1.632
9 Bolliger Team Switzerland Kawasaki +1.682
10 Honda Endurance Racing Honda +1.718
11 Mercury Racing BMW +1.884
12 Maco Racing Team Yamaha +2.179
13 Yamaha Viltaïs Pierret Experiences Yamaha +2.197
14 BMRT 3D MACCIO RACING Kawasaki +2.610
15 3ART - YAM AVENUE - MOTO TEAM 95 Yamaha +2.856
16 Moto Ain Yamaha +2.919
17 TECMAS - BMW BMW +3.171
18 Junior Team LMS Suzuki Suzuki +3.375
19 Team 18 Sapeurs-Pompiers Kawasaki +3.486
20 Team LRP Poland BMW +3.578
21 National Motos Honda +3.828
22 TATI TEAM BEAUJOLAIS RACING Kawasaki +3.864
23 Team April Moto Motors Events Suzuki +3.969
24 Atomic 68 Suzuki +4.083
25 SET Racing Yamaha +4.249
Thursday 13 Sep 2018, 18:42 UTC
# Team Constructor Constr. Time/Gap
1 YART Yamaha Yamaha 1:55.337
2 ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance BMW 0.287
3 F.C.C. TSR Honda France Honda 0.434
4 Team SRC Kawasaki France Kawasaki 0.638
5 Honda Endurance Racing Honda 1.263
6 Yamaha Viltaïs Pierret Experiences Yamaha 1.328
7 Suzuki Endurance Racing Team Suzuki 1.336
8 WEPOL Racing Yamaha 2.007
9 TECMAS - BMW BMW 2.180
10 Team 33 Coyote Louit Moto Kawasaki 2.208
11 GERT 56 HMT by re speedbikes BMW 2.558
12 Bolliger Team Switzerland Kawasaki 2.588
13 3ART - YAM AVENUE - MOTO TEAM 95 Yamaha 2.633
14 Moto Ain Yamaha 2.686
15 Junior Team LMS Suzuki Suzuki 2.809
16 Mercury Racing BMW 2.940
17 BMRT 3D ENDURANCE Kawasaki 2.974
18 Team April Moto Motors Events Suzuki 3.342
19 Maco Racing Team Yamaha 3.362
20 Team 18 Sapeurs-Pompiers Kawasaki 3.581
21 TATI TEAM BEAUJOLAIS RACING Kawasaki 3.658
22 No Limits Motor Team Suzuki 3.739
23 MOTOTECH EWC TEAM Yamaha 4.107
24 National Motos Honda 4.247
25 Cottard Motosport Suzuki 4.416
Thursday 13 Sep 2018, 14:31 UTC
# Team Constructor Constr. Time/Gap
1 Team SRC Kawasaki France Kawasaki 1:54.942
2 YART Yamaha Yamaha 0.240
3 F.C.C. TSR Honda France Honda 1.385
4 ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance BMW 1.574
5 Honda Endurance Racing Honda 2.239
6 Bolliger Team Switzerland Kawasaki 2.322
7 WEPOL Racing Yamaha 2.343
8 Suzuki Endurance Racing Team Suzuki 2.394
9 Team 33 Coyote Louit Moto Kawasaki 2.437
10 Moto Ain Yamaha 2.499
11 3ART - YAM AVENUE - MOTO TEAM 95 Yamaha 2.670
12 Yamaha Viltaïs Pierret Experiences Yamaha 2.707
13 GERT 56 HMT by re speedbikes BMW 2.949
14 Maco Racing Team Yamaha 3.121
15 Junior Team LMS Suzuki Suzuki 3.809
16 TATI TEAM BEAUJOLAIS RACING Kawasaki 3.892
17 TECMAS - BMW BMW 3.901
18 MOTOTECH EWC TEAM Yamaha 4.144
19 Team April Moto Motors Events Suzuki 4.181
20 Wójcik Racing Team Yamaha 4.184
21 Motobox Kremer Racing #65 Yamaha 4.198
22 Mercury Racing BMW 4.272
23 SET Racing Yamaha 4.619
24 BMRT 3D ENDURANCE Kawasaki 4.649
25 Team 18 Sapeurs-Pompiers Kawasaki 4.839