Kawasaki is now the first manufacturer in ten years time to win this race three times in a row. Let alone winning the race, the team also set a new distance record, which is the icing on the cake.
The battle ended only one hour before the end of the race, when the time advantage of Ninja ZX-10R number 11 became too big to be closed. For 23 hours the battle between the Kawasaki SRC machine and Suzuki SERT team was incredibly intense and by many aspects close to Superbike race pace.
Despite some brake pads problems, Kawasaki riders Julien Da Costa, Grégory Leblanc and Freddy Foray were able to set a very strong pace and clinched the victory that they have really deserved.
Gilles Stafler, team manager: 'I can’t find my words. It’s a really beautiful day for Kawasaki for sure, but for my team, my mechanics and my riders too. We did something that we can call the perfect race, even though we've had brakes pad problems that we've never had before. I can’t believe it but yes for sure we did it! I’m very proud about the job done this year. We won the Bol d’Or, we are already French Supersport Champion with Grégory, we win here in Le Mans for the third time in a row, and next weekend Julien will for sure clinch the French Superbike title. As someone said: what else to expect?'
Julien Da Costa: 'It’s a really sweet sensation. Of course I’m sore and tired but I like this feeling tonight. From the start of the race till the chequered flag we did it flat out ! We need to wait for next weekend for my Superbike crown but we absolutely will have a big party to celebrate this fantastic win and also a fantastic year. I would like to thank all the team and especially all mechanics for the superb job done.'
Grégory Leblanc: 'What can I say ? It’s just like a dream and I’m sure it will take some time to realise what happened here. Like Julien, I’m really sore tonight and my back is really painful. But when you are in front of the crowd on the first spot of the podium you forget everything. I’m really proud to bring back the big trophy to Kawasaki. Now we won three times in a row, and we can keep it definitely!'
Freddy Foray: 'I was a little bit nervous at the end of the race because it’s my first victory at Le Mans. It’s the perfect story for me. This year was my first ride for team Kawasaki SRC and I've won. Tonight I’m the happiest man on the earth!'
Not only in the Superbike class Kawasaki dominated the field, in the Superstock class team Louis Moto 33 - ran by a Kawasaki dealer - riders David Perret, Nicolas Salchaud and Nans Chevaux took Ninja ZX-10R number 33 to victory(after 810 laps and a final overall 8th position).
Final classification of 2012 24H Le Mans Endurance race :
1/ Team KAWASAKI SRC PIRELLI (Ninja ZX-10R) - Julien DA COSTA / Grégory LEBLANC / Freddy FORAY - 844 Laps (Overall distance record of the race)
2/ Team SUZUKI SERT (GSX-R 1000) - Vincent PHILIPPE / Anthony DELHALLE / Takuya TSUDA - 844 Laps (Time gap : 1’02’’508)
3/ Team BMW MOTORRAD FR (S1000 RR) - Sébastien GIMBERT / Damian CUDLIN / Erwan NIGON - 840 Laps
4/ Team YAMAHA GMT 94 (YZF1000-R1) - David CHECA / Kenny FORAY / Matthieu LAGRIVE - 839 Laps
5/ Team HONDA TT LEGENDS (CBR1000 RR) - John Mc GUINNESS / Cameron DONALD / Mathieu GINES - 828 LAPS