Note: If you can read German, read the German reports. The English reports are often just short summaries.
A week of free practice on two race tracks in Spain: Almeria and Cartagena.
I went together with a buddy "Ingo" by Van. Ingo drives a Ducati 998S and
is by far the most sympatic Ducati driver I ever met. Down in Spain we met
the old friend Gunna who had a bad crash just days before in Ledenon, France.
We shared our pit with two very fast but very friendly, french speaking Swiss
Manu and Michel.
Many of the participants of this testweek were drivers from the Swiss Superstock championship, so no chance for the amateurs. Both tracks proved to be very difficult. Almeria is a track with quite some elevation changes but with a good flow except for the chicane, there's a backstraight and a short start/finish straight, otherwise it's all about cornering. Cartagena is yet more challenging, only a short start/finish straight and a whole lot of extremely difficult corners, of course including some difficult elevation changes.
|Ryan from British sport photography||My Photos|
We had a lot of fun!! Manu and Michel both lowsided their bikes once, but no
one was hurt. Perfect weather the whole week, who would believe this!!
Only technical problems were that I didn't have enough tyres and that the forks bottomed out when braking hard.
Again with the friends from Mainz (Tom, Didi, Martin, etc), I singed up for
these two track days on the fast Hockenheim GP track.
I was really surprised that I could follow my buddy Tom on his R1. We had really great fights and a good time together. That's what makes most fun, driving against a friend who drives about the same speed. Only problems were badly scratching footpegs and brake levers, mostly in the entry of Motodrom and in the mighty Opel curve. There were quite some people in our pit looking for "what the heck is that yellow bike" :-) One little note from Thursday morning: I overtook both Tom and a German Cup Speedtriple on the brakes at the hairpin. And the photographer let me drive his race TLR, quite interesting!
Times of about 1:58 to 1:59 on the TLS, that's not bad. Suspension setup almost perfect, but finally one leaking fork seal. Brembo RR brake pads prove to be excellent. But one set of pads only lasted about one day. Metzeler Racetec K1/K2 slicks perfect.
Track day together with Finn, Wolfgang+Angie and Corsin (yet another Swiss
TL1000S driver). Bad accident with two seriously blessed drivers in the first
session in the morning. Long break before the track is open again. After
that good racing together with Wolfgang, who was damn fast today. Hard fight
with a GSX-R 750 K6, the good old TL won ;-) Some strange situations with
very slow drivers in the fastest group.
Raised the rear suspension by adding more spring preload. Times about 1:27. Tried different brake pads: Brembo SC: Too much bite, not my thing. Lucas CRQ: No bite at all when cold, but when hot they're OK. Good feeling, not as good as the Brembo RR. Metzeler K1/K2 slicks still good.
Four days on track with Ducati Bern, where my buddy Finn works now. I travelled down with
Walo by car, took us about 6h. The bikes arrived later by van/trailer. Faboulous
Hotel in Riccione just 50m from the sea. Great Italian food.
Monday afternoon I got introduced to the track. Drove the first laps behind Finn, who immediately blew his engine. Bad luck!! The track is easy to remember, but not easy to drive. And it goes counter clockwise! Difficult fast combinations and a very difficult yet important chicane before the start/finish straight. The pace on track is extremely high. Many Italian racers there.
Tuesday is free practice. Marco (GSX-R 1000 K3) and me get assigned in group C, thus the 2nd fastest group just behind the racers. I almost bin the TL in the long lefthander after the back straight. I suddenly loose the front wheel, lean angle goes to infinite, left foot gets pushed off the footpeg. I can finally catch it by steering gently left/right and pushing out the left knee. Phew. Back in the pit the friends don't really believe my story until Walo points on my left boot: Rashed at the ankle and on top of the footpeg! That was the end of the Metzeler Racetec slicks. I binned them after that incident, even when there was still rubber wet. They must have crossed end of life in terms of heat cycles. I still had two sets of Pirelli Supercorsa Pro SC1/2, one set slightly used, the other new. I was clocked 1:52.181 in the very last lap.
Wednesday is free practice, qualyfing and the races for the first 80 positions. I didn't manage to qualify for the "B-race" (pos 41 to 80). But Marco just did. The best qualyfing time was an incredible 1:38 driven by an Italian on a Ducati 999F04 Superbike. Remember that's less than 3s slower than this years Superbike lap record by Troy Bayliss!!! The Race of the pros is interesting to watch. A Yamaha Italia driver on a yellow R6 wins more than 5s ahead. He drives absolutely incredibly out of the corners and at my brake point he shifts one gear up, damn!
Thursday is race day. I mounted the other set of rims with the fresh set of Supercorsa Pro SC1/2 tyres. I am in the classic superbike class, thus up to 750cc 4 cylinder bikes and up to 1000cc for twins. The polesitter drives a Ducati 998R that has to be started with an external starter just like the superbikes or MotoGP machines. My grid postition is 13th, thus 4th row. Race mode: Line up in the pit lane 5' before the race. Two warmup laps under yellow flag. Flying start and 8 lap race. It's the time and not the position that counts. This is to avoid 1st corner crashes.
In the race I'm behind a brand new Aprilia RSV-1000R and ahead of another Duc 999S. I can't follow the Mille guy ahead. After about three laps, the Duc 999S overtakes me on the S/F straight, but I get him three corners later on the brakes. Unfortunately my line on the fast 3x left combination wasn't good enough and he blasted past me again on the back straight. No chance to get him again, he was too far away. I held this position till the end. Final result was 15th place, thus best Swiss driver behind 12 Italians and two Germans. And of course best (and only ;-)) non-Italian twin. My best lap was 1:50.463, with an excellent lap time consistency (slowest lap 1.6s slower than fastest). Fastest lap was a good 1:41 by the winner.
Marco did a great job in his race (up to 1000cc 4 cylinder) and finished sensational 19th. Of course he was fastest Swiss driver as well.
Misano is really a great track with great surrounding!! Definitely one of
the best locations I ever was, highly recommendable.
One of just a few open track days on the famous Spa Francorchamps F1 track.
Joined together with some friends of the German TL1000 Forum, travelled by
rent van with my buddy Peter Tümmers. About 5.5 hours from Basel to Spa.
We were a bit surprised that we didn't have pits. Fortunately the van was big
enough and served as hotel, pit, workshop and storage area.
Wednesday. I'm in the "medium" group. I thought that's OK for the first time on this difficult 7km long track. The track is quite fast, with two slow chicanes: Bus stop and a special 2nd chicane just after bus stop to slow down the bikes before the dangerous La Source hairpin. In the chincanes I remark that this group will be soon too slow form me. People almost stop their bikes in the chicanes, the pace is terribly slow! Hans, a friend of Gunna on a GSX-R 1000 K2, is in the same group as me, but he is definitely much too fast for this group. But he has some clutch issues...
2nd session. I begin to know there the track turns left/right. And I'm already too fast for the group. Asking for a group change my name is noted on page two of the wait list. Well, forget it for today :-(
Third session starts after lunch. I overtake groups of five or ten bikes. Only a green Kawa drives on the same pace as me. We crawl through the field and were clocked at 3:01 in rush hour.
Fourth and last turn. Traffic is even worse than before, impossible to drive fast, simply too much slow bikes. Even when I had some chattering braking hard for bus stop, it was possible to overtake 10 bikes at the same time. Well well. There are traffic jams befor the La Source chicane, sometimes I had to pull the clutch to avoid that the engine died... holy crap is this group slow! Fortunately there are less bikes on track in the last few minutes.
Thursday. The weather is a lottery. It rains sometimes, sometimes it doesn't. I try the first session with the Supercorsa Pro (they are threaded). But there's no feeling in the corners. After two laps it begins to rain and I return to the pits. Gunna borrows me a brand new set of Pirelli Rain tyres and Klaus mounts them to my gold rims. When I was ready, the weather wasn't that bad anymore. But enough water on track to drive some laps on the rain tyres. That was big fun!! Excellent feedback from the tyres, good corner speeds possible. I drive some laps behind Hans who drives the same tyres. I didn't think it was that fun to drive rain tyres.
The track dries and I switch back to the black rims with the Supercorsa Pro. The first turn in the afternoon is pure chaos, I overtake groups of 10 bikes in ziczac, it's really dangerous in the very fast parts of the track. I drive directly to the Prospeed pit and don't leave until I've that green sticker for the "fast" group in my hands. Was about time.
Daniel (on a RSV Mille Factory) and me leave together for the green session. We're first at the pregrid and have two laps of free track. Whow, these were great laps. So much fun! I can follow him and overtake him just before La Source. He gets me again in the next lap, but completely misses his brake point at La Source and has to take the emergency exit. I finish the session with some sub 3 minute laps. The rear tyre is almost over on the left side and begins to slide under hard acceleration. One time I was quite sideways accelerating out of the chicane before la source. Fortunately these tyres have an excellent feedback.
The last turn starts again together with Daniel. We agreed to just drive some nice laps, but don't push it over 100% anymore. Well, because we had free track Daniel accelerates and I can just barely follow him. When trying to catch up, I drove a 2:57.72. Not bad for the first time in Spa. Position 51 of 170 bikes with transponder and 5th of the Twins.
Because there was some fuel left in the tank, I drove the last turn of the yellow (medium) group as well . There wasn't much traffic anymore and it was fun to drive some extra laps.
Peter and Frank in the slow group had to be waved out of the track. They didn't
want to stop driving ;-) Everyone had a lot of fun.
Spa is really a great track. Bloody fast but extremely interesting and challanging. We had good luck with the weather and except for Hans' Gixxer engine there was no damage.
Gunna and Wolfgang talked to me until I signed up. Even when I knew the weather
could be a problem like last year. Travelled for the first time in the own
van, hotel "Aux deux Roses" in Neuf Brisach.
Saturday. We are in the fastest of just two groups, schedule is 30' fast and 30' instructed group. The Pilot Powers stay on the bike because the track is still partly wet.
I start our first session behind Wolfgang, who runs slicks. He has some problems with the slicks on the wet parts of the track during the first two laps. But then he pulls away. And I thought it's me who has the threaded tyres, damn! But anyway, it's fun. The Powers work quite well in these intermediate conditions. The knee touches down regularly. And I loose my left kneeslider in the fast "Flicflac" combination. I signal the flagmen that this is my part and that I want it back. The knee slider is trailered back to the pits after the session :-)
Next session is already mostly dry. The Pilot Powers work very well. Full confidence on the brake and when entering corners, but on throttle I'm missing the last 5% of confidence.
At lunch I put the black rims with an used set of Pirelli Supcorsa Pro SC1/SC2 on the bike and change the suspension setup from extra soft to normal.
Schedule after lunch: 20' instructed group, 40' fast group. Whoo hoo, much track time! Well, almost too much, because 20mins aren't enought to recover from a 40' session, because the track is very physic! The bike runs exceptionally well with the Supercorsa Pro, Engine runs great and the weather is still dry.
The following sessions in the afternoon were really great sessions. Gunna, Wolfgang and me were about the same speed and about the fastest on track. We had really hard fights when crawling together throught the field. Wolfgang was extremely good in the fast sections and on the brake you can't leave him any room. Gunna used the power of the GSX-R 1000 K4 on the straight, but was somewhat slower in the very fast sections and a bit early on the brakes. Me was usually the latest on the brakes. So we changed positions again and again, one of the greatest fun turns this year.
Gunna skipped the last turn and Wolfgang took a spin on the GSX-R 1000. He ran good for the first time on the bike, but I could drive away. Zwiebel clocked me at 1:24 from the pitlane. If this is true, that would be quite damn fast.
Sunday. It rains in the morning, track is all
wet. Rain stops during briefing. Pilot Power stay on the bike because there
was hope that it wouldn't rain anymore. Wolfgang
Gunna mount rain tyres. We leave seperate, in any case I couldn't go the same
pace like Gunna and Wolfgang. It's difficult to drive in rain with the powers.
I'm on track for about 30 minutes anyway. Accelerating in corners is the biggest
problem, traction on the rear is quite bad. Lean angles are OK. I didn't have
it went KABOOM! When braking for the last righthander before the back
straight, the front wheel lost grip very suddenly. I couldn't do anything,
we go down quite violent. I slid on my back, tumbled a bit on the pavement
and ran off the track knowing there were some guys behind me. TL came to stop
in the emergency exit, ignition still on but engine off. I
put it immediately back onto the wheels
the pits. The guys in the pit don't remark anything for a full five minutes
Nothing wrong with me, just a bruised left thumb and the right knee hurts a bit.
Damage report: Right front fairing rashed, crash pad bent but it saved the radiator, clutch cover (again) rashed, bar end rashed, front brake lever bent and rashed. Foot brake lever snapped off, exhaust can badly rashed, right midpipe bent and rashed, rear footpeg bent, rear fairing (again) rashed. The tank had already such a big ding that it didn't touch down this time :-]
I miss the turns with drying track when I'm repairing and cleaning the bike (there was gravel everywhere). After lunch the bike is ready again, but it begins to rain. Got a set of rain tyres from Wolfgang. But it rained very hard, too hard to drive. After 3 PM, rain stops and we're back on track on rain tyres. Machine is very wobbly on the straight (unbalanced tyres or because of the rain clothes??). But we're back in business.
Just before 4 PM I started another 30' session. It runs OK, except for that damn first slippy lefthander (there must have been oil/fuel). Driving rain tyres makes fun, fun is back!
Conclusion: Saturday good, Sunday bad. Or: Shit always happens the 2nd day.
I got some video footage of me that will be shown on a German bike show. My
yellow TL is famous ;-)