RACE COVERAGE: WORLD-FAMOUS PONT-DE-VAUX

12 hours of fast quads in France Words and photos by Anthony Brebant

This piece of property looks no bigger than 20 acres. Hopefully, someone in the U.S. can read this article and consider putting on a race like this in the States.

After the race cancellation in 2020, 47 teams made the start list for the 2021 edition of this high-speed, TT-style race across the pond in France. Rider turnout was low due to travel trouble, in particular for the American and English who normally represent a large part of the field of riders. The racing was intense nonetheless.

A new format included qualification on Friday evening, two 4-hour motos on Saturday and one moto on Sunday. UTVs also now have a class at the event. The teams of three riders take turns with one quad and have one hour of free practice to find a balance of setup on the quad. This is the only time for each rider to learn the track before qualifying.

In qualifying, Jeremie Warnia (#7) turned the best time immediately on the first lap. All the other racers tried to beat this time, but nobody succeeded, so team number seven took the pole position. This was Warnia’s seventh pole position in his career. In the number-two spot, down 3.835 seconds, was team number 1, Naveaux-Cheurlin-Petit, who tried until the last minute to find a clear lap to improve his time with no luck. Another 4.322 seconds back was team number 12, Magnin-Baille-Schweda.

Pont-de-Vaux also has a kids’ race (3x, 20 minutes) to promote promising young European riders.
Here is four-time French champion Randy Naveaux leading the Team Drag’on #1 to another victory for Yamaha.

START OF FIRST RACE

Quad number one with Randy Naveaux on board immediately took the lead and made a small gap on a group of riders, including Kevin Saar on the number 101 machine of Kevin Schweda (12), Laurent Boissy (7), Birger VanPoucke (24) and Christopher Tveraen (2).

The first pit stop happened after two hours of racing. Sylvain Petit took the relay on quad number one and continued to lead in front of Joe Maesen (101), Patrick Turini (2), Yann Magnin (12) and Rodolph Schneider (6) close the top five.

The four top positions stayed in that order until the last lap when Sylvain Petit on quad number one decided to pit. This strategy got them ready for a full stint in the beginning of the second moto, so that let the moto one win go to Turini on quad number two, with Magnin (12) finishing third. Maesen earned Team 101 a two-minute penalty for speeding in the pits, putting them fourth. Quad number 11 charged at the end of the moto to finish fifth.

It’s fitting that the Pont-de-Vaux has a Le Mans-style start. This used to be the norm in auto racing until guys were caught not putting on their seat belts before taking off.
The teams that ride together get to podium together. Unfortunately, there were no American riders in this year’s race.
The Jeremie Warnia-led 4Liberty Motorsports team set a lap record during qualifying. After a shock problem in the first heat, the teams ended up 12th.

INTO THE NIGHT

At 8 p.m. on Saturday the teams started the night moto, and the scenario was the same as the first moto, with Randy Naveaux on quad number 1 taking the holeshot and building a big gap over the rest of the teams.

Four teams battled for the entire moto, exchanging positions with the different pit-stop strategies. Finally, quad number 12 grabbed second position only six seconds in front of team number two in third position. Four teams were tight in time, and after hours of racing, only a minute separated second from fifth position.

Team number one led the moto until the last lap, then decided to employ the same strategy as the first moto and made a pit stop on the last lap. After the first two motos, teams number 1 and number 2 were separated by a 2-minute, 55-second gap. Third place was six minutes back.

Team PSR-By Rapport took the win in the first moto Saturday morning.
Teams have time between motos to service their machines. With a little luck, it will be the only time they have to do anything other than add gasoline or change riders. This team has competed at Pont-de-Vaux for 32 years.
The next edition of the 12 Hours of Pont-de-Vaux will take place in August of 2022. Hopefully ,Team 4Liberty with have riders from the U.S. back competing.
At 8 p.m. on Saturday, the teams take the start for night moto.

SUNDAY FINISH

At the start of the last moto, Mathieu Baille (12) took the holeshot, but quickly let the lead go to the teams of Petit (1) and Maessen (101). A long fight between these two teams resulted in Team 101 taking the lead for 10 laps before a pit stop. This gave the lead back to quad number 1 with Antoine Cheurlin on board.

The year’s most famous rider, Jeremie Warnia, was out of the fight for the podium due to a mechanical issue in the first moto. Team Dragon (1) made it a perfect race to secure their fourth victory in Pont-de-Vaux after their success in 2016, 2017 and 2019. The next edition of the 12 Hours of Pont-de-Vaux will take place in August of 2022.

Team #12 lost their spot on the podium in the last moto because of a mechanical problem. Just a couple of minutes in the pits made all the difference.

2021 12 HOURS OF PONT-DE-VAUX FINAL PRO QUAD STANDINGS 

1. (#1) Naveaux-Cheurlin-Petit, 182 laps, Team Dragon 

2. (#101) DeVries-Maessen-Saar, + 10 min., Team DVR 

3. (#11) Bruni-Schweda-Bruni ,+1 lap, Team Dragon

4. (#2) Galizzi-Tveraen-Turrini, +2 laps, Team PSR-By Rapport 

5. (#12) Magnin-Baille-Schweda, +3 laps, Team SMX Racing 

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