Fifth place finish for the Honda TT Legends at Le Mans 24-hour
The Honda TT Legends completed the legendary Le Mans 24-hour today after a demanding race that saw John McGuinness, Cameron Donald and Keith Amor complete 819 laps of the French circuit to secure a fifth place finish for the team. The event was the penultimate round of the 2011 Endurance World Championship and sees the Honda TT Legends climb to xx in the overall standings.
The race began at 3pm on Saturday with Australian rider Cameron Donald taking part in the running start for the Honda TT Legends, who had qualified in tenth position. An impressive first stint placed the team in fifth Ė a position that they held on to for the majority of the race, only slipping back to sixth for brief periods during the first half.
Slick pit stops and efficient fuelling saw the night section of the race pass smoothly with no major issues for the team, which was running a Combined ABS-equipped Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade Ė the first time the system has been used at World championship level.
As the sun rose, the team was still running comfortably in fifth but by 10am it had come under attack from sixth place contenders Ymes Folch Endurance, just one lap behind. This prompted a quick change of strategy with the teamís fastest rider, Cameron Donald, swapping stints with Keith Amor in an attempt to widen the gap.
The tactic paid off and as Donald, McGuinness and Amor battled heroically through extreme fatigue, they were able to keep Ymes Folch at bay and held onto fifth until the chequered flag. Cameron Donald completed the final stint and the Honda TT Legends team completed its second 24-hour event of the 2011 Endurance World Championship season.
We seem to be good at the 24-hour races! This will have moved us up in the World championship, which is fantastic. Of course, the major thing for us is we took the risk of running the Combined ABS system for the first time on a World-level race bike and we are over the moon that we had no problems with it. The riders were very happy and while weíll obviously keep developing the system to perfect it, for this first time everything has certainly gone very well. Overall, itís been a pretty trouble-free race.
Weíve finished the two biggest races of the EWC season Ė the Bol díOr and the Le Mans 24-hour. Le Mans is steeped in history, itís a massive event and I am proud to be able to say that we have finished it. There are 20-odd people in the team and everyone has played a big part to get us to finish fifth here and score some points for the World championship. I must have done about 300 laps and never really put a foot wrong, I just tried to do my best and keep out of trouble. For saying itís the first time the ABS has been run in a World championship, Iíd say weíve done a pretty good job.
Itís all a little bit surreal at the moment. Riding that cool down lap was pretty emotional. Le Mans is a bit like the TT was to me nine or ten years ago, itís something that Iíd only ever dreamt of doing. Not only did I get to start the race, I got to finish the race and as a team we finished fifth, so Iím thrilled. Iím still pinching myself a little bit. I want to say a massive thanks to the team for the opportunity and to everyone behind-the-scenes because the amount of work that went into finishing this race was unbelievable. I am glad itís over though!
I donít know whether itís elation or relief! Itís been a tough week, especially for me as Iíve struggled to be honest. I need to say a big thank you to Cameron and John has they have carried me to a certain extent. The team has done a great job. To finish fifth here on the new ABS bike is a testament to the whole team and the hard work they put in. 24 hours is a long time to race. Iím feeling emotional but Iím smiling.