Two-time winner Freddy Foray is set to defend his title when the 2019 24H Motos gets underway in just one week at 15:00 local time. The F.C.C. TSR Honda France team’s racer gives his thoughts on the big event.
Every rider with a career in endurance motorcycle racing dreams of winning the 24H Motos. Freddy Foray - representing Japanese team F.C.C. TSR Honda France with the #1 Honda - has claimed the top step on the Le Mans podium twice in ten appearances. He first won in 2012 with Team SRC Kawasaki, then again last year with his current team. Like the 179 other racers set to start the 42nd running of the annual marathon at 15:00 on Saturday 20 April, Foray has been preparing himself mentally and physically for months: “You can work for months, but once you take the start, you don’t know with certainty where it will take you. Your race can end quickly, and you have to keep that in mind.”
F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s win at the 2018 24H Motos kicked off an exceptional year for the Japanese team, including the 2017-2018 FIM EWC world champion title and victory in the 82nd Bol d’Or last September, the opening round of the 2018-2019 FIM EWC season. “Looking back on it just makes me want to win the 24H Motos again even more,” admits Foray. But, the 34-year-old racer dismisses claims he’s a favourite. “I think all the official teams are. At the 24H Motos, you need luck on your side. For example, if another competitor’s engine breaks down in front of you, it’s very difficult to avoid going down with him.” Experience and adaptability count for a great deal as well. “I remember two years ago, it turned very cold overnight. Before heading into one of my night-time stints, my coach showed me a photo of frosty car windscreens to ward off making contact with any white lines or curbs. A good endurance racer must adapt to all possible conditions.”
The 24H Motos is also a wonderful experience for fans. In addition to witnessing the exploits of top-notch professional and amateur racers on the track, they also get to enjoy an exciting array of attractions in celebration of motorcycle racing, such as exhibitions, concerts, the Fan Zone and more. Freddy Foray gives some tips for watching the race at the Bugatti circuit: “The Pit Straight is my favourite spot. In terms of atmosphere, it’s like a football stadium. It’s also where the team feeds me information like the number of laps I have left before the next fuel stop or the amount of time separating me from my rivals. It keeps me going. I also recommend the Garage Vert corner. It requires very hard braking. My mother once went there at night to see me. She was surprised by the difference in speed between the official and private bikes. Since then, she avoids watching trackside. It’s very scary for her.”
Foray will join forces with fellow Frenchman Mike Di Meglio and Australian rider Josh Hook to take on Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki and BMW. All four major manufacturers have two goals: dethrone Honda and win the 24H Motos.
In Superstock, ten teams are seeking the top step on the class podium. In the Experimental category, two bikes equipped with innovative front forks will look to demonstrate their machines combine innovation and competitiveness.
The first free practice session will begin Thursday 18 April at 10:00. All 60 teams will then set out to clock their fastest times at qualifying. Former racer Jorge Viegas, President of the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM), will be official starter for the race on Saturday 20 April at 15:00. He will then meet and greet the media in the FIM reception area in the Bugatti circuit paddock.