Endurance World Championship

【2022 Season Review】F.C.C. TSR Honda France claims second title, Team HRC dominates first Suzuka 8 Hours in three years

【2022 Season Review】F.C.C. TSR Honda France claims second title, Team HRC dominates first Suzuka 8 Hours in three years

The 2022 FIM EnduranceWorld Championship was contested over four races: the 24 Heures Motos (France), the 24H SPA EWC Motos (Belgium), the Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race (Japan), and the 24 Hours of Bol d'Or (France). F.C.C. TSR Honda France, a joint Japanese-French team racing the CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE SP, welcomed British rider Gino Rea to join its riders Josh Hook, in his sixth season, and Mike Di Meglio, in his fourth.

Third at Le Mans 24 hours

In the season-opening 24 Heures Motos held at the Circuit de Bugatti (France) on April 16-17, F.C.C. TSR Honda France started from 3rd position to take an early lead, and held its  position until the 8-hour mark. An unscheduled pit stop caused the team to drop to third. Towards the end of the race, Rea crashed, but with the bike repaired in just 11 minutes, the team was back on track in third position. Despite misfortune, teamwork saved the day with a third place finish, a good start to the season.

F.C.C. TSR Honda France at 24 Heures Motos
F.C.C. TSR Honda France at 24 Heures Motos

Claiming third by 0.5 seconds after a red flag in Spa

Round 2 was held at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the first motorcycle race in 21 years. F.C.C. TSR Honda France started from fourth grid and maintained a top 3 position for the first half, but after 15 hours, chain trouble caused the team to fall back to tenth place. As dawn came and rain intensified, Di Meglio crashed, but soon returned to the race. His  tenacity in the rain was rewarded by a podium position.

The race was red-flagged for more than two hours due to a large amount of oil on the track,  and the race resumed, only 20 minutes remained. The final stint was a sprint duel for a podium position with YOSHIMURA SERT Motul (Suzuki), with Rea edged out his rival by  0.5 seconds to finish in third place.

Gino Rea in the 24H SPA EWC Motos
Gino Rea in the 24H SPA EWC Motos

Team HRC dominates first Suzuka 8 Hours in three years, giving Honda its first win in eight years

The midsummer festival, Round 3, the Suzuka 8 Hours, was special. Honda entered the race with Team HRC, its factory team especially for the event, with Tetsuta Nagashima, involved in bike development as a test rider since 2021, Takumi Takahashi, three-time Suzuka 8 Hours winner, and World Superbike factory rider Iker Locuona. The team was determined to win.

Team HRC at Suzuka 8 Hours
Team HRC at Suzuka 8 Hours

In the joint test and pre-race tests, Team HRC was fastest every day. On the first day of qualifying, Nagashima was the only rider to lap in 2 minutes and 4 seconds, and was first to advance to the Top 10 trial. On the second day, the Top 10 trial was cancelled due to bad weather, and was replaced by a 40-minute timed qualifying session. Nagashima set a time of 2 minutes 4.934 seconds on his first attempt to take pole position.

F.C.C. TSR Honda France finished the first day of qualifying in fifth position. The French team was doing well, but on Day 2, tragedy struck. During the free practice session prior the top 10 trials, Rea suffered a major crash and was airlifted to a hospital. Hook marked the fourth fastest time in timed qualifying, but the team had to make race with only two riders.

Team HRC at Suzuka 8 Hours
Team HRC at Suzuka 8 Hours

In the race, the three Team HRC riders lapped at a consistently fast pace and led. The team's quick pit work also helped as the gap to second place gradually widened. Without a single crash, Team HRC lapped every other bike to convincingly win. This was Honda’s first win at the event since 2014, and its 28th victory. Nagashima, who knew the Suzuka track well, commented, "I've been testing here with Honda for almost two years, and they've gone to such lengths to make sure I'm satisfied. I was able to reward their efforts with a victory in the Suzuka 8 Hours. We were able to show once again how strong Honda is.”

Despite losing positions due to mid-race brake issues, F.C.C. TSR Honda France  persevered to finish in tenth place. The team would head into the final round with a 23-point lead over arch-rival, YOSHIMURA SERT Motul (Suzuki).

Team HRC in Suzuka 8 Hours
Team HRC in Suzuka 8 Hours

Overcoming problems to finish fourth at Bol d'Or 24 Hours

The final round commemorated the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Bol d'Or. Alan Techer, who had been with the team until 2018, stood in for Rea, who was badly injured at Suzuka.

Starting from fourth grid, the bike developed radiator issues three hours into the race, dropping the French team down to 27th position, with all hope of winning the championship seemingly lost. However, consistent stints from the three riders and excellent teamwork by the pit team helped in making up a significant amount of ground, ultimately leading to a fourth place finish.

Gaining 50 points while YOSHIMURA SERT Motul (Suzuki) scored zero with a DNF at Bol d’Or, F.C.C. TSR Honda France won their second title, the first in four years. Despite not having won a race all season, F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s tenacity and teamwork led to points gained inevery race, making this a true endurance championship crowning.

F.C.C. TSR Honda France in Bol d'Or
F.C.C. TSR Honda France in Bol d'Or

EWC - Standings

Rank Team Constr. Points
1 F.C.C. TSR Honda France Honda 154
2 YOSHIMURA SERT Motul Suzuki 130
5 Wójcik Racing Team Yamaha 97.5
6 YART - Yamaha Official Team EWC Yamaha 97
13 Team HRC Honda 35
18 TOHO Racing Honda 17
20 Honda Dream RT SAKURAI HONDA Honda 15
22 Team ATJ with JAPAN POST Honda 13
24 Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA Honda 10
26 GOSHI Racing Honda 9
28 Honda Hamamatsu ESCARGOT RT Honda 6
32 Honda Blue Helmets MSC Kumamoto&Asaka Honda 2
33 Murayama.Honda Dream.RT Honda 1
35 SDG Honda Racing Honda 1

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