Rd.4 – Bol d’Or 2023 – Qualifying

Schedule 2023.09.14
Circuit Circuit Paul Ricard (France)
Rider Gregg Black
Sylvain Guintoli
Etienne Masson
Cocoro Atsumi (Reserve rider)
Qualifying 2nd


Yoshimura SERT Motul set the second fastest time on the Suzuki GSX-R1000R in qualifying for the Bol d’Or, the fourth and final round of the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship and the third 24-hour race of the season.

The team is preparing for the ultimate challenge of the season, the 86th Bol d’Or at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. Its fast-qualifying sessions across all groups has motivated the Franco-Japanese team.

Currently fourth in the overall standings, with a total of 77 points, Yoshimura SERT Motul is 61 points behind the leader at the end of a difficult season in which luck has never been on its side. For this final event of the year in the FIM EWC, the clear objective is to finish with an excellent result.

The 47 teams involved have been preparing for this final, where the stakes are high. The demanding layout of the Bol d’Or circuit is notable for its 1.8km Mistral straight, a major challenge for the machines, which are pushed to the limit for more than 20 seconds. The points awarded are multiplied by 1.5, giving a maximum of 85 points. For Yoshimura SERT Motul, this is a valuable opportunity to move closer to the top of the final standings.

During the two qualifying practice sessions, the entire team showed its determination to shine at the highest level in EWC.

In the first session on Thursday afternoon, Gregg Black put in a very good performance with a best lap time of 1.51.892, which placed him second in his session. Sylvain Guintoli led his stint with an impressive time of 1.51.695. Etienne Masson finished second in his session with 1.53.014.

In the second official qualifying, which took place on Friday, Black slightly improved his time to 1.51.636, which again ensured him second position. Building on his performance of the previous day, Guintoli secured third place with a time of 1.52.619. Finally, Masson made a significant improvement, with a best lap of 1.52.141.

Japanese rider Cocoro Atsumi joined at the Bol d’Or as a reserve rider and made a valuable contribution to the team’s work. He placed a best lap time of 1.53.142 in Q1 and then went on to be the fastest rider in the green group in Q2.

Over the two days of qualifying, Yoshimura SERT Motul was credited with a time of 1.51.665, the average of its two best times. This solid performance means the team will start from second place on the grid for the 2023 Bol d’Or. It also added four additional points to its championship tally.

The Bol d’Or 2023, gets underway on Saturday September 16, at 15:00 CET.

Yohei Kato – Team Director

We’re very happy with this qualification and I’m really pleased with the performance our team made. We came very close to pole position, but second is a very good result. Since the Bol d’Or last year, we’ve often been unlucky, so this year we really want to finish on a high with a good result before concentrating on next season.

Damien Saulnier – Team Manager

Of course, we were aiming for pole position, but second place is already a great performance and we’ve picked up some important points for the championship. I’m very happy with the week we’ve had. We know the potential of our riders, the bike, and the team. Everyone did a great job. Now we’re looking ahead to the race, where the aim will clearly be to give everything we’ve got to achieve the best possible result!

Gregg Black – Rider Blue

The hard work of the whole team has paid off. All three of us managed to beat our personal best times on this circuit. I’m really happy with the pace we’re setting and with the performance of the Suzuki GSX-R1000R, which came very close to pole position. The title isn’t decided yet, and we’re going to do our best to fight to the end.

Sylvain Guintoli – Rider Yellow

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to improve on my time in second qualifying and the first place slipped through our fingers. But I was able to set a good pace in the first qualifying session and that’s a positive point. It’s going to be a very competitive race with a lot of fast riders and different but very close machines. We’re looking forward to it and defending all our chances to finish this season well, which hasn’t been easy for the team.

Etienne Masson – Rider Red

It was a great qualifying session. We all rode well. Personally, I’m quite happy because it was the first time I have ridden this circuit on Bridgestone tires. I had to get up to speed quite quickly. But I still managed to set a good time today. So, the first part of the mission has been accomplished. The race bike is competitive, we’ve got the right settings, power and good fuel consumption. It looks good. During the race, the weather conditions may change. It will be up to us to manage and make the right decisions.

Cocoro Atsumi – Rider Green

Working in the Yoshimura SERT Motul is awesome and it was a great experience even as a reserve rider. My previous best lap time at the Paul Ricard was set with SST class bike and now I was able to improve three seconds faster on the team’s GSX-R1000R! The way team setup the bike is amazing and I was able to set Q1 lap time with a good rhythm. I concentrate on the checkup of the bike for the race during the Q2, but as a result I was fastest in the session. I would like to thank to the team to give us such an opportunity and it was so nice to have warm welcome with nice hospitality.


*Photos are from test, free practice, qualifying and night practice sessions.