Australia's Mark Willis had a successful diversion to his commitments in his year's GP500 world championship when he won the Bol d'Or 24-hour race at Magny-Cours over the weekend.

The 24-year-old partnered French team-mates Fabien Foret and Jean-Marc Deletang to victory aboard a Yamaha Motor France R7 superbike, completing 801 laps of the French Formula One GP venue, and finishing 1min 35.412secs clear of the second-placed Kawasaki team comprising Bertrand Sebileau, Igor Jerman, and Ludovic Holon.

Willis' victory was his second success in the World Endurance Championship this year, after previously winning the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race in Belgium in July.

The Willis-Foret-Deletang team lay third for most of the early stages at Magny-Cours, but dropped to 14th after Foret crashed in his second stint. Only an overnight recovery to fourth position allowed the trio to make further advances, and they eventually took the lead with six hours remaining, after outpacing the Kawasaki team in the battle for victory.

''We made up a lot of time in the night section,'' Willis explained, ''The lighting was better than at Spa. There were dim lights in most places although it was dark in the entry to a couple of chicanes. My lap times at night were only about a second slower than what I was doing during the day so I was pleased with that. After the crash the only problem we had was the handlebars coming loose, but we fixed that during a pit-stop.''

Willis' fellow Australian Karl Muggeridge finished third on a Honda VTR1000 with Frenchmen William Costes and Sebastian Charpentier. They completed 794 laps after losing time when their machine ran out of fuel. Early pacesetters, Frenchmen Jean-Michel Bayle, Christian Lavieille, and Philippe Dobe crashed their works Suzuki and withdrew after 288 laps.

''The Suzuki was strong, but then they crashed, and the Honda was looking good until they had to push it back to the pits after running out of fuel,'' Willis added, ''We were there at end when it counted, but it was pretty even between us and the Kawasaki.

The Australian will now resume his 500cc grand prix programme with the Modenas team, an association which began with 15th place in round twelve of this year's championship at Estoril in Portugal two weeks ago. The Bol d'Or commitment forced him to miss the following round at Valencia last Sunday, but Willis will return in place of Spain's David de Gea aboard the Modenas in the final three grand prix races at Rio de Janeiro, Motegi, and Phillip Island in his homeland.

''I wanted to race the grand prix at Valencia, but I couldn't be in two places at once so I had to miss it. I'd made a commitment to be at Magny Cours and I'm pleased I did because we got the result we wanted. It was a tough race, especially coming from behind after the crash. I'm looking forward to getting back on the 500. We tested a new chassis in Spain last week and hopefully I can finish in the points in Brazil.''

Race result - Bol d'Or 24Hr

1. Willis / Deletang / Foret Yamaha R7 801 laps
2. Sebileau / Jerman / Holon Kawasaki ZX-7RR 801
3. Costes / Charpentier / Muggeridge Honda VTR1000 794
4. Protat / Muscat / Mizera Yamaha R7 788
5. Coutelle / Haquin / Ulmann Kawasaki ZX-7RR 781
6. Nowland / Mertens / Linden Suzuki GSX-R750 777