Schleizer Dreieck Round 5
Round Five of the IDM German Superbike Championship was held at the very historic and unique Schleizer Dreieck circuit. The half-public street race track attracts large attendance numbers and some spectacular racing. It is deemed the most physically challenging on the racing calendar.
After a five-week break, I welcomed the Friday morning practice with great excitement. Being back on the bike was an amazing feeling and thankfully I had not forgotten how to wobble around on my Suzuki GSXR 600. It had been three years since I had tackled this east-German semi-street track, but I can say the smile on my face midway around the second lap was ear to ear. We managed to finish the session in a comfortable 4th position, with a clear direction for the next session.
The second session started well as we moved to 2nd position in my second flying lap. Unfortunately, three corners later I entered the third turn as normal and found myself sliding through the dry grassy field. I did luckily get to witness my poor motorcycle perform some abstract gymnastics as we slid away from the track.
Despite missing ninety-percent of the second session, we were able to go one-second faster in the third and final practice session. I must say a big thank you to Team Suzuki Mayer who did a fantastic job to get the bike repaired in time for the session. We opted to remain on the used tyres in order to get my confidence back in the front grip of the bike. I was only able to lap within 1.5 seconds of the fastest rider Jan Buhn.
We used the first half of Saturday mornings first Qualifying session to increase my feeling and confidence in the front grip of the bike. This session was calculated to be the best one to bank a fast qualifying lap due to the predicted high track temperatures during the midday session. Although we were still in the suspension set up stage, the conditions forced us to use a qualifying tyre. We improved the lap time but only enough to place in 8th position.
The front tyre was around 70% used from the first session, and due to the tyre limit, we needed to choose a new front or one more qualifying tyre in the rear. We chose to start the second and final qualifying session with the old front and rear. I completed three laps and was unable to improve my time. I returned to the pits to put the qualifying rear tyre on. Luckily I was able to slot in behind Roman Stamm (the current championship leader) who also had a new rear tyre as well. Although the grip level was lower than in the first session, I was able to improve my pace. My lap time was the second fastest of the session, but unfortunately, it only placed me 7th on the grid for the first race.
I managed to get off to one of my best starts of the year as the lights went out for Race 1. I tipped into turn one in 4th position. In the first laps, I moved into third position but was unable to keep the pace of the two front riders – Keven Wahr and Roman Stamm. To my detriment, my rear suspension set up was still not producing enough grip from the tyre. With three laps to go, I had Austrian Rider Stefan Kershbaumer in my slip stream. I was not sure of his speed as he had not passed me during the race, so I decided to try to push harder for the last laps. This made the grip issues even more apparent. Unfortunately, I was unable to hold him off as he went past in a straight line. Finishing Fourth was a good result considering the past races we have had. We now had a clear direction on how to improve the bike for the second race.
Race two’s conditions were slightly cooler as many dark clouds loomed over the track. We again got off to a good start and slotted into 5th position into turn one. I was then able to pass Dutch rider Leon Bovee in an attempt to hold onto the rear of Roman Stamm as he chased the leading duo. I remained tucked in tightly behind third-placed Stamm for 15 laps as it was impossible to pass the Kawasaki rider. With three laps to go I posted my fastest lap time and at this point, I was the fastest rider on the track. Half-way around the track on the final lap, I had closed the gap to Stamm but struggled to get close enough to pass in the braking area. My last chance was the change of direction in the final chicane onto the home straight. I managed to get in front of Stamm off the corner. To my dismay, Stamm was able to beat me to the finishing line where I again finished a slightly disheartening fourth position.
I would like to say a big thank you to Team Suzuki Mayer, all my sponsors listed below, friends and family who continue to support my dream job. I will endeavour to pay everyone back with a double podium at the next round in Sachsenring.
Check out the IDM you tube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/IDMchannel there should be race highlights up soon!