World Endurance Champions Suzuki Castrol won the Zolder 6 Hour fourth round of the FIM World Endurance Championship in Belgium this afternoon and extended its lead in the series to 44 points.
GSX-R1000-mounted Vincent Philippe, Keiichi Kitagawa ? who crashed heavily in qualifying - and Matthieu Lagrive took their third win of the seven-round series, completing 223 laps, three more than Yamaha Austria who currently hold second place in the Championship.
The Le Mans, France based team led from the start chased by Kawasaki Bolliger, Kawasaki Diablo and Yamaha Endurance Moto38.
Van Zon Honda made a poor start but quickly worked their way up to second place and Yamaha Austria were up to third before the first round of pit stops.
Yamaha Austria moved up to second place in the second hour, splitting Suzuki Castrol and Van Zon Honda. Behind them, Yamaha Acropolis Zone Rouge 99 was challenging the Bolliger and Diablo Kawasakis after Endurance Moto38 were forced to pull out with a broken gearbox.
Disaster struck the Van Zon Honda team in the third hour when a crash eventually ruled them out of the race, but at that stage, Suzuki Fagersjo-el.se and Yamaha Phase One were both fighting for a place in the top six. Acropolis Zone Rouge 99's clutch failed in the fourth hour dropping them out of the race and Kawasaki Diablo briefly moved up to third place before a high-side crash ended their race.
Suzuki Castrol and Yamaha Austria appeared to have settled into first and second place with a comfortable margin, but the battle for third, fourth and fifth places between Kawasaki Bolliger, Suzuki Fagersjo-el.se and Yamaha Phase One went on to the end of the race.
Said Philippe: "It's a good result for the Championship. The next round at Suzuka will be difficult but this result means we can take some risks there; we can go fast so it will be good."
Lagrive said: "I worked hard for this result, but after this race I am ready for Suzuka."
Kitagawa added: "I crashed last week in Japan so I have been having problems with my body; it was difficult to race but my team mates did a good job."
Top Ten Provisional Finishing Positions:
- 1: Suzuki Castrol Team - FRA - Suzuki GSX-R1000 - Philippe, Kitagawa, Lagrive 223 laps.
- 2: Yamaha Austria - AUT - Yamaha YZF-R1 - Jerman, Scarnato 220 laps.
- 3: Kawasaki Bolliger Team - SUI - Kawasaki ZX10R - Morillon, Saiger, Muff 216 laps.
- 4: Suzuki Fagersjo-el.se - SWE - Suzuki GSX-R1000 - Carlberg, Anderson 215 laps.
- 5: Yamaha Phase One - GBR - Yamaha YZF-R1- Nowland, Cudlin, Miinin -22.419 seconds.
- 6: Suzuki Team LTG57 - FRA - Suzuki GSX-R1000 - Moreno, Pruhliere, Tachons 212 laps.
- 7: Kawasaki Jadoul Motorsport - BEL - Kawasaki ZX10R - Didier, Weynand -10.610 seconds.
- 8: Shell Endurance Academy - GBR - Yamaha YZF-R1 - Rowley, Verboven, Dubelski 211 laps.
- 9: Yamaha Acropolis Zone Rouge - BEL - Yamaha YZF-R1 - Pirot, Botton, V.D.Broeck -16.977 secs.
- 10: Suzuki Primo Racing - BEL - Suzuki GSX-R1000 - Westra, De La Ruelle, Hendrickx 210 laps.