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15th April 2024

Linfoot set for SERT debut at Le Mans 24-Hour

Dan Linfoot has swapped the British championship paddock for the Endurance World Championship (EWC), joining the Yoshimura Endurance Racing Team (SERT) for 2024. However, despite being a household name for followers of BSB, he is no stranger to endurance racing. We spoke to him ahead of the Le Mans 24-Hour.


“Since my first Suzuka 8-Hour in 2017 I’ve taken part in one-off EWC races between my BSB commitments,” he tells us ahead of the Le Mans 24-hour (18-21 April) and the opening round of the 2024 season. “I loved doing them. I like the challenge, the team work, the pit stops, the night racing, they’re great. The feeling of completing something like a 24 hour race, especially if you get a good result, is incredible.”


Linfoot is no stranger to EWC and also no stranger to the GSX-R1000, having contested the 2023 Suzuka 8-Hour on an ex-Yoshimura machine. As a result he wasn’t starting from scratch when he got his first go on the 2024 bike during preseason testing.


“I had a bit of an understanding and an idea of what to expect from last year’s Suzuka,” he explains. “That bike was an older-spec Yoshimura machine. But I could also tell after my first few laps that this bike was even more refined and the complete package. I find the GSX-R a very user-friendly bike, which is really important in endurance racing and is key to being consistent.

“It’s the same with the team itself. It feels like a well-oiled machine and everyone knows what they’re doing thanks to years of experience and hard work.”


While one of his teammates is also English, Gregg Black has made a career racing in France, after moving there at the age of three. The rest of the team is made up of French and Japanese staff, including riders Etienne Mason and reserve and development rider Cocoro Atsumi.


Despite this, Linfoot maintains there has been no issue with communication and that it didn’t take long to settle in.


“It’s still early days. We’ve done six days’ testing but we’re yet to race together. But initial feelings were really good and I feel I’ve fitted in really well. Everyone is really friendly and respectful, and communication isn’t an issue as, because of the mix of French and Japanese staff, the debriefs are in English.”


During those preseason tests Linfoot had to get comfortable with his new team and his new race bike: a bike he also has to share with two other riders during a race.

“I went into the test without setting too much in the way of expectations. I just wanted to adapt to the team and the bike but this happened much more quickly than I anticipated. As riders we all gave our feedback on the bike to the crew chief and we come to a compromise in terms of setup that way. We’re all a similar height too, which helps in terms of being comfortable with the positioning on the bike.”


After beginning communication with the SERT team after last year’s Suzuki 8-Hour, Linfoot has now joined the most successful team on the EWC grid, where the aim is always to win the world title, something that SERT and the GSX-R1000 has done 14 times since 2001.


“I’m not feeling any. Yet, anyway,” he admits when we ask how he’s handling the pressure. “The aim is to win the world title, that is clearly the aim, and the team and my teammates have done it many times before. I know that I can deliver what’s needed for them to win another.


“The team haven’t put me under any direct pressure, but it is only natural that the pressure will start to build the closer it come to crunch time. But I’m the first person that expects the required performances from myself, and I’m confident that I can do the job the team needs and deserves.”

With the Le Mans 24-Hour, that crunch time he talks of is coming.


“It’s exciting. I feel good physically and ready to ride. I’ve changed my training over the winter for a season of EWC, and I’m in a good place.


“During 24-hour races, sleeping between stints is tough; there’s a lot of adrenaline, your body temperature is high, it’s noisy, and your mind is on the next stint. So, for me, it’s just time to rest, recharge, eat, have some physio, and prepare for the next stint. Every rider is different, but that’s how I approach a 24-hour race.


“At Suzuka, last year, we completed the race as a two-rider team, so 50 minutes on the bike, 50 minutes off. It took its toll but it’s amazing what the body is capable of when you just keep going. After an hour off you can feel ready to go again. At least for the first 12-16 hours. The final part, a bit less so!”


And while his teammates and their compatriots are mad for EWC, Linfoot would like to see its popularity rise in the UK.


“The French live and breathe EWC,” he reflects. “It’s a shame it’s not as popular in the UK. Obviously the history of endurance racing in France is huge but it’d be great to see a UK round, and it could be the first step to growing the UK fanbase. A lot of riders in British championship have migrated to EWC or take part in one off-rounds, and there are endurance races at club level in the UK that are popular. I think it could grow here.”


The opening round of the 2024 Endurance World Championship takes place at Le Mans on 18-21 April, followed by the Spa and Suzuka 8-Hour, with the 24-hour Bol d’Or wrapping up the season in September.