The 500 Miles of Magny Cours is organised by the Swiss company FVP, which plans track days all across Europe. The endurance race is an opportunity for customers and fellow racers to take part in competitive racing. Long distance racing is the ideal format as it gives the opportunity for lots of riders to take part while keeping the pace at a more controlled level, and not at a full sprint.
To be able to qualify for the race, the riders must post a lap time between 1:50 and 2:00 during the day and 1:50 and 2:06 during the night.
The teams vary from a group of friends to professional teams, but they must not be enrolled in an official endurance championship. The main purpose of the event is to keep it among amateurs and to ensure that fun is the first priority.
Our plan is to take part in the race next year so this weekend allowed us to understand what sort of preparations the teams have and at what level of professionalism they operate. The private teams race with a level of equipment not too dissimilar to a normal track day; they have bikes, tool boxes, spare parts and tires. Nothing too fancy.
At the other end of the spectrum there were a couple of race trucks operating at a much higher level.
You can run the race in two formats; one bike per team, or a bike for each rider. The majority of the teams run multiple bikes but there are a few that stick to the proper endurance format and race with a single bike.
The race was awesome to watch and the Le Mans start is iconic and quite the spectacle.
We spent a bit of time in the pits to see how the teams operate on the pit wall and most importantly during pit stops. For the teams which run more than one bike the pit stops are a simple transponder swap, with the successive rider already waiting.
But for the single bike teams it is obviously a lot more interesting. One rider comes in and jumps off, then the team get to refuelling the bike with fire marshals standing by, followed by a quick clean of the tank and the next rider hops on and races off. I didn’t see any pit stops with tire changes as I would assume the teams make them last multiple stints, if not the entire race.
One team had setup a stand with lighting for night pit stops.
Problems for some.
The race begins on the Saturday at 18:30, which means that it will inevitably run into the night, and usually finishes around midnight. The bikes must come equipped with adequate lighting and usually some teams add some fairy lights for good measure too.
For me this is great appeal of the race; having the opportunity to race at night under the cover of darkness.
Whether I’m taking part in the race or not, next year I’ll be coming back.