The 2011 FIM World Endurance Championship gets underway with the Bol D'or 24 hour race at Magny Cours this weekend, and the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team will start from pole position.
Frenchman Vincent Phillipe led the way for the reigning champions with a lap of 1:39.740, with the four rider outfit producing an average time of 1:40.589 to edge out Team SRC Kawasaki by 0.124 seconds.
Four manufacturers are represented in the top four with the BMW Motorrad France 99 and Monster Yamaha YART teams lining up just behind.
British trio John McGuinness, Steve Plater and Keith Amor claimed seventh for the Honda TT Legends team, competing in its debut campaign in the World Endurance Championship.
McGuinness was encouraged by the performance of the Honda Fireblade, and is hopeful of a strong showing in the race, which starts on Saturday afternoon.
“Qualifying has not been without its problems but hopefully we can put that behind us now and we can have a smooth race. The main objective for us as a new team is to finish the race and if we can keep up the pace we're at for 24 hours we might even place in the top ten, which would be the icing on the cake.”
Teammate, and fellow road racing expert, Plater echoed those sentiments and is eyeing a trouble free 24 hours.
“Grid position is not too important for the Honda TT Legends team but it is good for the whole team that we have achieved seventh. There is a lot of hard work ahead for the crew this afternoon, preparing for the race and getting everything in order. We do want to be competitive but the overall aim is to get through the race without too many unplanned pit stops, stick to our systems and finish.”
Amor paid tribute to Plater after his efforts in qualifying, and is looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“A grid position anywhere in the top 15 would have been good so we are pleased with seventh, although it's not the most important thing for the team. Steve was quick today and I think he was the one who boosted the times for us. We tried a few different things with the set up ready for the race and I'm looking forward to it. It feels like we have a long wait ahead now!”
The gruelling event promises to provide a thrilling start to the 2011 Qtel World Endurance Championship, with the 75th running of the Bol D'or starting on Saturday afternoon.