This year marks the 20th anniversary of the most prestigious international quad endurance event, the 12 Hours of Pont de Vaux in southern France which took place August 18th-20th to record crowds and a race line-up of some of the world’s greatest ATV teams. Team ATV World / Duncan Racing had two riders, the winners of PDV for the last two years, John Mitchell and Doug Eichner. Team boss Martin Fletcher had prepared a Gold/Black/Silver Yamaha Banshee for the occasion. Having already won PDV a record eight times it was to be the last time the team were going to use a Yamaha Banshee at this level of racing.
The weather played its part in what had to be one of the wettest qualifying sessions ever! The ground was soaked due to heavy rainfall just hours before the start and this really put a strain on getting a good time with the Banshee, which was already at a disadvantage being a 350cc two-stroke against the 450cc plus size four-strokes. John and Doug handled the Banshee well and adjusted to the ride while the rest of the team took this opportunity for final adjustments and strategies. At the end of qualifying, the team made 12th position.
John gets help with the cleaning up after a muddy qualifying session
Doug started session one and because of the track conditions the Banshee got drowned in water puddles. By the second lap Doug was out of the top 100. The bike struggled under the excessive wet conditions and had to be pitted five times during the course of the session to clean mud from the machine and radiator. Water boiled out of the radiator three times but the motor kept running. John and Doug kept racing hard and after three hours worked their way back up to 30th overall and five laps down from the leaders.
Doug Eichner had a difficult start but worked his way up to 30th place after he was out of the top 100 from lap 2
The advantage we have in the night sessions is simple. Doug Eichner. Nobody is faster than the seven-time PDV champion in the dark. John had initially ridden the first two legs and cleared a lot of traffic. This gave Doug a clear run and by the end of session two, team ATV World / Duncan Racing had not only won the night session but within one lap of the overall leaders, an amazing achievement.
John rode well to get from fifth to first place and be a lap ahead in the third session
John Mitchell started the final session in fifth place and totally dominated proceedings, picking off the top riders until he was one lap in front of everybody else. With just one hour to go, the Yamaha Banshee, which until now had been faultless, ran into trouble. At the pit stop the team identified the problem with a fly wheel. Believing the bike to be race-ready John went out to finish the race only for the problem to reoccur and had to push the bike half a mile back to the pits. After replacing all the electricals and resolving the problem, John went back out for the last 45 minutes and made some important overtakes. The final lap approached and John had made it to 18th place. An incredible achievement given the fact the bike was in the pits for 35 minutes at the final part of the race.
Although the team were disappointed with the result because we had a chance to win, we are pleased with an overall fifth place and only eight laps down. John and Doug spent 12 laps in the pits over the course of the 12 hour race. The desire to come back next year and get onto the podium has now been strengthened.
Everybody was proud of the fifth place achievement and look forward to returning in 2007
Thanks again for all the support from sponsors who along with their outstanding products have helped us achieve a strong result at Pont De Vaux 2006. See you in 2007!