Eazi Grip

Tom Ward’s Le Mans 24 Race Report – Team TRT 27

Sorry for the slow update, it was a rollercoaster weekend at Le Mans for the first round of FIM Endurance World Championship EWC our first round on the Honda Fireblade! Reality has set back in and back to real life work.
Race Week Report
We started the practice strong, Ben and Michael were getting used to the bike and their lap times were in a good place. I managed to do my fastest lap at the end of practise which put us 2nd overall in Stock which was a nice way to go into Thursday! As always it’s difficult to find a happy medium with setup between 4 riders, we tried a lot and didn’t seem to make any improvements so going into qualification none of us were too happy with the bike but we had limited time to get it right between 4 of us…
Qualy 1
I went out in Q1 feeling confident I could improve on my practice times, I unfortunately lost the front at t3 on my first flying lap and managed to stay on my elbow and knee all the way till I came to a stop (not a real crash) I rolled the bike back down to the entrance to pitlane as there was no damage to the bike and went straight back out, my next flying lap I managed to do a PB of 1.37.6 and I was not pushing too hard as the front tyre felt like it was on marbles. I came into the pits and the tyre pressure was really low, it was a shame as I was only 0.7 from pole Kenny Foray which put me 5th out of all the Stock riders and if the bike was in a better place I felt we could have been a lot faster. After that we used the other qualy 2 as practice to get the bike in a better place for the race. After 2 laps of Q2 we had gone the wrong way with the geometry of the bike so I pulled in, annoying but it was good info to move forward with the bike.
Qualification is taken from the 2 fastest times so mine and Tommy Guns times placed us 7th which wasn’t the end of the world!
Race Day
We had a practice session in the morning which was ideal as we put the bike back to how we finished Spain on it and we were all happier in the position it was, so mentally we were all in a better place!
I started the race which was cool, I was one of the first to get to the bike and get away straight into the leading group. I held my position for my stint but unfortunately the team made a mistake and didn’t put the right amount of fuel in, so I had to pit early and came in at 4th place at the time.
There was a problem with the bike and it wouldn’t start in gear in-between pit stops so we were having to bump start it which was costing us a few seconds in the pitstops, the team decided to pull the bike in to try and fix the problem which was unsuccessful. We lost 5 minutes during this time, unknown at the time but it was the clutch switch that had failed so the bike would start in neutral but not in gear…. They pulled the bike in again at about 8 hours in which at that point we were 6th and not far for P3. We lost another 10 Minutes which put us back to p11 in class, this was a big mistake from the team as it was unnecessary to try and sort the problem that didn’t need fixing. We realized that it was just the clutch switch so carried on as normal, it was a mistake by the team to bring the bike in but valuable information and will be learnt from for the future!
At around 4am Tommy gun had a fall at T2 as the air temperature was about 2 degrees! A lot of the top riders crashed in these conditions as it was so easy to make a mistake, Tom got the bike back really fast and the team got it fixed and back out only losing 16 minutes. Unfortunately when Ben got back on the bike it broke down at the furthest corner away from the pits, so he had to push it all the way back and the guys fix the problem. We lost another 30 minutes and Ben was not comfortable on the bike at this point so we made the decision to continue with just myself, Tom and Michael. By this point in the race we were down to about 26th overall and 15th in stock… I genuinely was contemplating giving up as my motivation was low but I got suited back up and got back out, I got my head down and aimed to try and stay in the 39s for the rest of the race. After this we had minimal problems and stayed consistent and were one of the fastest teams, I managed to overtake the leaders twice, 2nd place twice and 3rd place to try and make up as much time as possible which gave me some form of consolidation after all the setbacks! Michael had a small issue with the quick shifter so he came in early from a stint and Tom was not ready so he had to go back out and do a double stint which he stayed really fast and consistent, which was really impressive from the wee dingleberry this late in the race (he showed true heart)!
We never gave up and we kept pushing till the very end, we managed to finish the race in 7th place which I never would have believed if you told me that after all the problems during the night!
I wasn’t happy with the result as I knew we had the pace to be stood on the podium but I am proud of not giving up and we showed true determination. We win together as a team and we lose together as a team, I just hope we can learn from our mistakes to make us stronger for Spa to fight at the front.
A massive thank you to Steve Bones for all his hard work to get the bike to such a good place and all his amazing work with the Tanks and custom parts (plus enduring me and Tom all week!).
Dave Bradbury for the bikes and all his support.
Steven for his translation and organization
Charles, Yann all the mechanics and TRT 27 team who worked relentlessly!
Eric for running the team and pulling it all together
Sebastian from AZ Moto Honda Rouen for his support and hard work.
Honda France Corporate for the help and information!
Chris Fennell for keeping me fit, genuinely the best I’ve ever felt on a bike and this is due to his dedicated training program! To everyone else who supported from home and at the track.

Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2024 in News

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