Le Mans, France. Sixth on the grid for the ERC Endurance Ducati Panigale V4R carrying the starting number 6 at the season opener of the FIM Endurance World Championship. Philipp Öttl (GER), David Checa (ESP) and Chaz Davies (GBR) will head into the full-day’s distance race of the 24 heures Motos Le Mans at 15:00 CET tomorrow, Saturday, 15th of April. 

Thursday’s qualifying session would prove to be the decisive one even though it already was held in mixed conditions for most of the time. Shortly prior QP1 of rider blue it had rained over the Circuit Bugatti at Le Mans but this track is known for a quick drying track. It was a tire gamble for all, even more as the session got red flagged by half time due to multiple crashes, which gave the track more time to even more dry out. In the end Öttl put in a best effort of 1:40.245 which shows the track was still damp in some aereas and places. 

Also the yellow group riders faced rain spots from time to time but Checa put in a strong time of 1.36,989 minutes. For Davies things got clearer in the other direction: A further shower left the track in full wet conditions so the Briton took a time of 1.50,113 minutes. As only the two fastest times of a team count for the starting grid overall the ERC Endurance Ducati’s Qualifying average time was set at 1.38,617 minutes which meant sixth for the grid. 

A look at the free practice of Thursday morning shows a much more confident ERC Endurance Ducati squad: A 1.36,084 time meant P2 in that session, just a bit over a tenth of a second behind the fastest team of BMW factory. 

Rain had come in over night and left Fridays Qualifying session in full wet and clear conditions. Öttl and Checa went out for some laps to test the new Pirelli rain tires. 

Checa unfortunately crashed in the Garage Vert corner during his QP2 session but luckily escaped unhurt. 

The race will start tomorrow, Saturday (14th of April) at 15:00 CET with the chequered flag to be waived on Sunday at the very same time. Philipp Öttl will take the start for the #6 ERC Endurance Ducati.

Philipp Öttl: 
We are ready for the race tomorrow, when the conditions seem to be much better and dry. I think we are well placed to be mixing it up at the front if it is dry. I am a bit nervous at the moment as I will be the starting rider. This will be something very special and a big honour to be starting the 24 hours of Le Mans for ERC Endurance Ducati. On the other hand it is another 24 hour’s race and the main target is to make it to the finish line. If we can manage this, we for sure hope it will be on the podium.

David Checa:
First of all I want to say a big sorry to my team for my crash in my second Qualifying session. I am completely fine but I did make my guys some big work for this Friday’s afternoon, so I am sorry. Apart from this we are well set up and in a good shape for the race tomorrow. Both Qualifying sessions were either in mixed or rain conditions, so it was very tricky. Of course we would have liked to be a bit further up in the ranking and taking some World Championship points from the Qualifying, but it was all a gamble game. 24 hours are long and we have proven this week already we are amongst the very fastest in dry conditions, which we expect for the race tomorrow and on Sunday. Our target for sure is in first making it to the finish line – and aiming for the podium. 

Chaz Davies:
I think in dry conditions we are well set up and are at the sharp end of the field. Unfortunately both of my Qualifying sessions were in full wet conditions so on Friday morning I opted to stay inside the pits as there was nothing to gain but much to lose. Sixth on the grid is not too bad at all and I think we can fight for the top positions tomorrow. Then the target is simple: to do a solid and faultless race, do the best we can all over the distance and hopefully fight for the podium places.

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