Multiple teams battling for victory and a shot at the podium, breakdowns and crashes that restarted the race, comebacks, exceptional twists and turns, of course the legendary Spa rain and a sustained tug-of-war until the last corner of the last lap. The 24H SPA EWC Motos 2022, which celebrated the return of the endurance world championship to Belgium, could only become part of the legend of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit keeping the 15,000 spectators who came to join the party in cliff-hanging suspense all the way through.
A few favourites emerged during the practice sessions, but the close lap times and the unpredictability of endurance racing suggested a lively weekend ahead. Battle commenced from the get go. In a field led by Gregg Black (Yoshimura SERT Motul) the Frenchman plunged his Suzuki No. 1 into the lead, with the Honda No. 5 (F.C.C. TSR Honda France) and the BMW No. 37 (BMW MOTORRAD WORLD ENDURANCE) in hot pursuit. But not the Kawasaki No. 11 (WEBIKE SRC KAWASAKI FRANCE), who was quickly eliminated after several crashes.
As the rider changes followed one another the Yoshimura SERT Motul consolidated its lead when the first spectre of calamity injected itself into the race and the gearbox of the GSX-R1000R failed under, Sylvain Guintoli, forcing him to return to the pits. Leaveing the machine in the hands of the mechanics, Gregg Black returned to the track with 25 minutes to make up, in fourteenth position.
By now the Honda n°5 had taken the lead, but fate was also against it: a chain failure left Gino Rea stationary at the side of the track after 14h30 of racing. Half an hour was lost, and his teammate Josh Hook was only tenth when he took over on the CBR1000RR-R.
The BMW No. 37 (BMW MOTORRAD WORLD ENDURANCE TEAM) was the main beneficiary of these breakdowns, and propelled to the front, with the Yamaha #7 (YART - Yamaha Official Team EWC) chasing it. The time war began, in a configuration that resembled that of the Most 2021 6 Hours, but the German bike kept its advantage of about one lap. The Kawasaki No. 4 (TATI TEAM BERINGER RACING) was third. Behind it, the SERT’s Suzuki No. 1 continued it climb, and began to see the top five.
By daybreak, the gap between the BMW No. 37 and the Yamaha No. 7 was less than a minute, thanks to fastpitstops and surgical riding by Karel Hanika. The long awaited duel finally started after 18 hours of riding. Illya Mykhalchyk and Marvin Fritz went head to head, but the hopes of the Blues were dashed due to an engine failure leaving thehe BMW MOTORRAD WORLD ENDURANCE TEAM out in front on its own.
Rain is always a game changer at Spa and he first drops, which had been feared during the night, finally arrived shortly before 8am, just as the riders were about to complete their 19th hour of racing. The gravel pits started to fill,the Kawasaki No. 33 (TEAM 33 LOUIT APRIL MOTO) and the Yamaha No. 18 (TEAM 18 SAPEURS POMPIERS CMS MOTOSTORE), which were leading the Superstock classification, went off in succession as well as the Honda No. 5 (F.C.C. TSR Honda France) and the Suzuki No. 1 (Yoshimura SERT Motul), two of the big protagonists of the weekend. The safety car was deployed and paralysed the action.
On the restart, the riders had got the measure of the tricky conditions and began to lay down consistent lap times. The BMW No. 37 had the benefit of a cushion, thanks to its eight lap lead over the Kawasaki No. 4, but the third placed Yamaha No. 77 (Wójcik Racing Team EWC 77) became a victim of the Mike di Meglio comeback on (Honda No. 5) and Gregg Black (Suzuki No. 1), who’s riding was relentless in the wet.
A new duel began, this time for the third step of the podium. But the lead of the Kawasaki No. 4 began to melt like snow in the sun, and this fight for the bronze medal seemed certain to become a fight for the silver medal by the finish line. But this suspense was forlorn, as the Yamaha No. 121 (FALCON RACING) broke down and left long oil trails on the Belgian track. The red flag came out after almost 21h30 of racing.
While furious efforts went on to clean the circuit back to adequate safety conditions we were again reminded that anything can happen until the chequered flag is out: that's the magic of endurance racing and Spa-Francorchamps. After a meeting with the team managers, the decision was taken to start the riders behind the safety car, before letting them finish the race normally.
With 7 minutes and 15 seconds remaining, the safety car finally pulled away, kicking off a monumental (and final) battle for third on the podium between Gino Rea (Honda No. 5) and Xavier Simeon (Suzuki No. 1), wfirst and second places almost guareenteed because of the time gap. The two men then performed a phenomenal battle in dantesque conditions, finally won by the Briton by half a second ahead of the Belgian.
Eight months after winning the 2021 Most 6 Hours, and one and a half months after retiring from the Le Mans 24 Hours, the BMW MOTORRAD WORLD ENDURANCE TEAM triumphed at the 2022 SPA EWC Motos 24 Hours. Its first victory in a 24-hour race, to underline its return to the World Endurance Championship. The Belgian Werner Daemen, the team manager based in Zonhoven, 100 kilometres away, is obviously delighted with the result.
TATI TEAM BERINGER RACING took a prestigious second place, while F.C.C. TSR Honda France completed the podium. The Yoshimura SERT Motul team finished fourth but retained the overall lead in the World Endurance Championship standings.
In the Superstock class, the Yamaha No. 94 of TEAM LH RACING held its ground and avoided all the pitfalls to win its class. It dominates a podium made up of 100% Yamaha YZR-R1s. Thee No. 18 of TEAM 18 SAPEURS POMPIERS CMS MOTOSTORE, still leading the overall classification, and the No. 66 of the OG MOTORSPORT BY SARAZIN team finish behind it.
Formula EWC standings (top 5) :
1. BMW No. 37 (BMW MOTORRAD ENDURANCE WORLD TEAM)
2. Kawasaki No. 4 (TATI TEAM BERINGER RACING)
3. Honda No. 5 (F.C.C. TSR Honda France)
4. Suzuki No. 1 (Yoshimura SERT Motul)
5. Yamaha No. 77 (Wojcik Racing Team EWC 77)
Superstock standings (top 5) :
1. Yamaha No. 94 (TEAM LH RACING)
2. Yamaha No. 18 (TEAM 18 SAPEURS POMPIERS CMS MOTOSTORE)
3. Yamaha No. 66 (OG MOTORSPORT BY SARAZIN)
4. Kawasaki No. 23 (TEAM NORMANDIE MOTOSPORT)
5. Suzuki No. 44 (No Limits Motor Team)
Full results available by clicking here.