Note: If you can read German, read the German reports. The English reports are often just short summaries.
Bike has not changed much over winter: New Wilbers rear shock with 0.5cm more stroke, new front calipers with lightweight pistons.
After the week in Spain, I tested a Dunlop KR106 front tyre in 125/80 dimension. It was a big success and I drove only this type of front tyre during the season.
Ruedi, another Swiss driver and me decided to drive to Spain together. Distance from Bern to Valencia is about 1500km, thus quite far. I took Friday afternoon off to pick up tyres, load the van etc.
Ruedi sends me a short message when he passes on the highway. We have traffic jams in Switzerland and it takes us twice the time as usual to get to Geneva. Except for strong crosswind, the highways through France are no problem. We stop at Circuit Catalunya in Barcelona to stay overnight. There are races of the Spanish Championship, so the paddock is completely full. But we can stay there safely anyway.
We watched some races of the Spanish Championship and left in the afternoon to Valencia. We arrived at about 17h and installed us in the paddock. The pits are almost exclusively occupied by Supersport European/World Championship teams. Whow! We'll see a high pace tomorrow.
8h30 Drivers briefing. Not too much drivers present.
1st session, I have to learn the track on my own. A very nicely flowing and very challanging track! Except for the short start/finish straight only corners corners corners. Great! You can drive lan angles until your ears touch down, I like that immediately. This is the perfect motorbike track with large runoff areas, flat curbs and a good surface. The TL runs great, the new Wilbers rear shock and the new Hayabusa front brakes work like a charm. Time drops under 2mins in the 2nd session, at the evening my PB is 1:54.98 Note that rear tyre usage is quite remarkable, the rear slick is almost over.
At the evening beer and barbecue in the paddock.
8h30 race briefings. GP races are scheduled in two categories. Best 44 for each category. Race procedure is prestart in the pitlane, one formation lap and then directly a flying start and 14 race laps. I'm in the GP2 Category (600,750 and V2). The qualification will be a challenge, because there are lots and lots of Supersport Championship drivers in my category.
I put a new Metzeler Racetec K2 rear slick for the last two qualification sessions. My qualy laptime is 1:53.034. At lunch I change the rear wheel again for the rim with the old tyre. The race will be long and I want to keep the new tyre for the race. I skip one session after lunch and take some photos.
Just before the race I put the black rim with the as new rear tyre back. I put 10l fuel into the tank, that's enough for formation lap, 14 race laps and outlap. Ruedi comes back from the GP1 race just before I leave for my race. He's happy but tired.
Prestart in the pit lane. I'm in the 8th row on the left. Ruedi told me that it is very important to stay close with my foreman in the formation lap, so I get off the grid in a big (unintended) wheelie :-) Formation lap is quick, but we stay all together. Flying start is quite boring. I'm close behind a Kawasaki and have a look on him. We overtake some slower drivers together before I can overtake the Kawa in the slower parts of the track. All works well, I'm overtaking other drivers, as example the tall driver on the black Aprilia Mille. About at lap 8 I see blue flags and think "heck if they are already here, they can lap me without my help". And indeed the leading group passes without a problem. Remember these are Supersport Championship drivers. About at lap 10 I suddenly loose grip on the front wheel in the first double right corner, I hear footpeg and rear brake lever grinding but can just keep it upgright with some knee effort. Phew! I decide to drive it home a bit less agressive. Towards the end of the race I am stuck behind a Honda that looses some (cooling?) fluid. I decide to drive my place home after some slides behind him.
Awards ceremony. The championship drivers were taken out of the ranking, I think that's fair for an amateur event. My buddy Ruedi wins the GP1 class, whow!!! I am on the good 7th place in the GP2 category. Personal best lap 1:51.600.
After the first session in the morning, I have the front tyre exchanged for a new Racetec K1 slick. There was no bad wear visible, but I wasn't happy at all with the tyre, it slid just too much. In the past I learned to change such tyres, that's way cheaper than crashing. And for the rear I had a new Racetec K2 slick mounted on the golden rim. Yes, the track is hard on tyres! I scrub in the front tyre in the 2nd session and then put on the brand new rear tyre for the race.
My race (750 and V2) starts with some delay, because there was a big crash and restart in the preceding 600cc class. In the formation lap we see that the double righthander is covered with oil binder on the outside. Damn, that was my favourite section to make up time. After the flying start, I'm stuck behind a 636 Kawa, I can't overtake him for a good while. I get him towards the end of the race, but my target, this black Mille three positions ahead me, was too far away by this time. So I am a little bit disappointed when the race is already over after 8 laps. Ah well, at least I didn't crash.
Final result is a 4th place in the V2 category, fastest lap 1.50.112. Ruedi wins his class (unlimited) again!!!
In the afternoon I drive another session in the yellow group but skip the free practice in the evening. Instead I packed my stuff and headed off to Calafat.
|Sportfoto Trescher||My photos|
Valencia is without a doubt the best motorbike track I aver drove. Very challenging, perfect surface, smooth curbs, enough runoff areas, really good and fast corner workers, perfect weather. Heck yes, we had 20 to 25° C and sun all time!! It was well worth the long trip.
Wednesday I drove directly from Valencia to Calafat, about 2.5h highway. Arrival at about 19:30 in Calfat. Where's that damn race track, not one sign so I end up in the village to ask someone. Without knowlege of the Spanish language, I have a hard time understanding the people. A younger guy can explain it so simple that I understand it. I learn one more spanish word: "derecho" means right. I finally arrive at the pits and pick up the keys for the pit and our bungalow. I rented a Bungalow with three German friends: Gunna, his wife Susanne and Harry.
Next challenge. Find the bungalow. The map is completely useless. The description written on it is not very clear either. "Appartement under the pine trees more on the right. 1st floor, external stairs". Well, there are about 531 appartements, 215 pine trees and still about 27 external stairs. There comes the useful part of the appartement description "There is a butterfly on the door". So I climb up 26 external stairs until I find a door with a butterfly. It is a miracle that the keys open the door. It is quite cold outside and there's a strong wind.
The three others arrive after midnight because they had a tyre failure on their trailer.
Thursday is our day off. Gunna and Susanne have to drive back to Barcelona to pick up their trailer with a new tyre. Harry and me drive to the track. The other German friends are already there: Wolfgang, his wife Angie and their son Etienne. We install us in pit #7. Short visit on the beach of the Mediterranean Sea just aside our bungalow.
In the afternoon I drive two laps on the track... with the mountain bike of Wolfgang :-) 7min 35sec is the time to beat tomorrow...
Later Gunna and Susanne are back with the trailer and the tree remaining TL. Gunna brought his rebuilt race TLS and spare bike with him, a stock 97 TLS. Harry drives a green TLR. Wolfgang drives another TLS, Etienne is the only non TL driver in our pit, he drives a GSX-R 750.
Wolfgang knows the track already. We walk the 3.25 km track and he explains us where NOT to drive. Gunna also inspects the runoff areas. Not much runoff areas. And very high and rough curbs.
Beer&barbecue in the pits.
8:30 drivers briefing. The event is organized by Doc Scholl. Yes, a sport medicine specialist. Safety first is their motto.
We skip the first session because it is very cold and there is too much wind. The tyre warmers don't get really to temperature, it's crazy. The following sessions Gunna and me drive behind Wolfgang who shows us the lines. It is very practical to have a "driving instructor" like that, very easy to learn the lines. The track is very technical, challanging with elevation changes. Good grip, but the surface is rough and bumpy. And don't put the knee down on these curbs! I have to adjust the suspension to a slightly stiffer/different setup. The bike moves a lot. Personal best laptime is 1:41.4, that's within the top 10. Etienne and Harry drive in the instructed group. Angie drives one session in the evening, specifically designed for mechanics and wifes.
In the evening, I change the routing of the cooler overflow bottle tubing. Of course I have to remove the race fairing for that. Later we refuel our petrol cans at the next Repsol fuel station.
Again a bit windy and cold for the first session, but thanks to the good grip this isn't such a problem. The bike moves a lot on this track, with either setup. You have to get used to it. It moves when braking, when cornering and when accelerating. Even on the straight it moves because of the crosswind.
For the 2nd session I put on the golden rim with the as new slick that was mounted just for the sprint race in Valencia. I ask the instructor in our neighbour pit, if he could show me the line in the first corner. He accepts no problem and tells me to follow him for two or three laps. So he shows me some excellent lines not only into the first corner. Towed by him, I drive a good 1:39.111 lap time
The squally wind is more and more a problem. It is a problem on the s/f straight where you suddenly have a lot of crosswind braking for the first corner. And it is a big problem accelerating out of corners. Accelerating with crosswind or head wind is almost impossible, the front wheel suddenly lifts of or jumps/bounces up to 1m if you aren't very very careful. Lession learned: If you want to accelerate, hang over the tank and put as much weight as you can on the front wheel. I add two clicks on the steering damper.
Personal best in the evening is a 1:39.046 lap, that's OK. Harry lowsides in a right hander so we have something to repair this evening. Nothing major, just broken levers, bent clipon and some scratches. And a slightly swollend hand. I decided to change the cooling water of my TLS because it looked... errr.... black. Who knows why it gets black. Gunna mounts carbon wheels, but fells asleep shortly after. Poor guy was sick the two weeks before.
Easter Sunday, 23.3.
08:45 again drivers briefing. It's cold and there's very strong wind. The doc proposes to drive only with extreme caution until it gets warmer and the wind stops.
So we skip the first session and leave the tyre warmers on for a good 1.5h until the tyres were really heated up. Even the 2nd session was very difficult, simply too much crosswind. My front wheel once jumped 1m to the left, I almost ran off track and decided that this was too dangerous, so back to the pits. In the session just before lunch I drove some 1:39 times even when there was a lot of wind. For the last session in the afternoon, I put on a brand new set of Pirelli Diablo Superbike SC2 slicks, the rear in 180/55 on a 5.5" rim. The tyres worked excellent, but the session was stopped with the red flag when a Supermoto seized, crashed and left cooling water on the track.
In the eventing, I put the gold rims with the "old" tyres back to keep the Pirelli set for the race of tomorrow.
The Doc has a speech about motorbike clothing safety. Very very interesting and very well presented.
Easter Monday, 24.3.
8:30 race briefing. The doc tells us that there is probably too much wind for races and that a Superpole session would be an alternative. It will be decided at 13:00 if there will be races or not.
Oh yes, there was really CRAZY wind in the night. It was OK in our bungalow, but Wolfgang and Angie didn't sleep well in the caravan.
We prepare for the 2nd session when I remark that the front tyre warmer was cold. So I decided to go out about 10mins later to give the tyre a chance to heat up a bit. Wolfgang comes back to the pits barely 10mins after he left: "Too much crosswind, much too dangerous". I hesitate. Minutes later the session is stopped and the ambulance leaves direction first corner. Where's Gunna?? Our pit neighbour just comes back and reports that Gunna crashed at very high speed (about 240kph) at the end of the start/finish straight, probably because of the strong crosswind. His face tells me it was a really bad crash. Oh shit!!
The ambulance comes back and Gunna is indeed in there. He waves, but his left hand is blooding like crazy. Awww. His wife Susanne and me try to follow the Ambulance to the Hospital, but we loose them after three corners. So we phone back to the track to ask which hospital it was: "Hospital Santa Tecla in Tarragona". We drive to Tarragona and ask several times how we can find the Hospital. After the explanation of a Taxi driver, we finally find it. Gunna is x-rayed and inspected. One badly broken finger, one cut and rashed finger, a swollen knee and some bruised rips here and there. If that's all, he was lucky. He must be operated and stay for the night. We leave him his mobile phone and leave for the moment.
Our day is over, nobody of our pit drives again. The wind doesn't stop today and all races are cancelled, no superpole session either. So we load all into the vans/the trailers. In the evening, all of our pit drive to the Hospital to visit Gunna. He's a though guy, joking around again.
|Franks Photo Service||My photos|
Tuesday I drive to Tarragona again and then the 1100km home. After about 10h I was at home. No problem except for strong crosswind and SNOW at home. Oh shit, I have no anti-freeze in the cooling system of the TL, but it is frozen outside. I never put the Merc van in the Garage of my parents, so I have to measure first. Just fits in there, phew.
Calafat is an interesting, small track, situated very beautiful. The organization was perfect. But the high and rough curbs and the small or nonexistent runoff areas aren't best suited for motorbike races. And the wind was a problem, it was really dangerous in special in the morning. But we can't complain about the weather, it was sunny and the temperatures were OK. Not compareable with the snowy weather back home.
Best wishes to Gunna, get well soon!!!
Me and Corsin+wife drive together in my Mercedes Vito van from Switzerland to the Eurospeedway Lausitz. That's about 1000km from my home. We arrive at about 19:00 and install us in Pits number 38 and 39 together with other TL drivers.
Drivers briefing. There will be a 4h endurance race instead of the 2h race that was announced!
The track is still humid. Not wet enough for rain tyres, so I skip the first session. Wolfgang and some others drive on intermediates.
From the 2nd session on, it was OK to drive with slicks. But there were still a lot of wet sections, so it was very difficult, very slippery.
Dry track from the 3rd session on, so the day really begins now. I get back confidence and drive below 2 minutes on old slicks, in the following session I drive a 1:57 lap.
Then we prepare for the endurance race. Wolfgang and me are a team of two TL1000S. The wife of Wolfgang is our pit crew and we discuss strategy and pit sign: Three turns of 40min for each driver. Pit signal is a yellow pullover :) shown after 35 minutes and acknowledged by a raised left hand of the driver. Then two full laps and one outlap to the pit, so we should do about 40 minutes a turn.
Wolfgang drives the first turn. I hold his bike during the Le Mans start. After that I prepare my bike for the first turn: New set of Pirelli Diablo Superbike SC2 slicks and refuel.
Our strategy works out perfect, we drive very regularly and change as planned every 40 minutes. Pit stops are quick and without a problem. There is a lot of traffic on track, but it's mostly no problem to overtake. I overtake a lot on the brakes and there are only very few bikes that pass me. In my last turn I have a cramp in my left hip which was not very practical. None the less I can drive constant lap times and finish my last turn as planned. In the 2nd last lap I drive my fastest lap of 1:56.696.
Our result in the endurance race is 119 laps, 6th place of 52 teams entered. And that means of course first place in the TL cup endurance ranking.
It rains, so there's free practice in the morning.
I mount the rims with the rain tyres, put my rain suit on and drive out on the wet track. Whow, no grip at all!! It's like driving on ice, really crazy. Even when my rain tyres are brand new, I can't get a decent lean angle, the track is simply too slippery. It must be a strange pavement (the oval part of the track was built for Indycar racing and I think they don't race in the rain).
The track stayed wet until about lunch. There were quite a few of crashes, most of them in the braking zones.
After lunch, the track dries and I can finally test my new front tyres: Dunlop KR106 slick. Even when this turn is also red flagged, I am confident that I will drive this tyre in the sprint race in the afternoon. Wonderful feedback from this tyre, much better than the Pirelli/Metzeler I drove before. I also put on a new Metzeler Racetec K2 rear tyre.
Wolfgang crashes in the last turn before the sprint races, so his TLS has to be repaired in a hurry before the TL Cup race. I gave him my spare windscreen that I had just bought.
The qualyfing times are the times driven yesterday morning on dry track. With my time I'm 2nd on the grid, behind Wolfgang. The sprint race is 10 laps. We have our own category, so this race will be a TL1000 only race!
At 15:30 we drive to the prestart in the pit lane. Then one lap to the starting grid. One warm up lap. Now we are standing on the grid, red light ... off GOOOO!! My reaction wasn't the fastest, but the start was excellent so I was first into the first corner. I drive two or three really fast laps and then look over my shoulder. Nobody. OK, let's drive it home. So I drove a clear start-finish victory (I was about 30 to 40 seconds ahead the 2nd). Whow! Fastest lap time was 1:56.709. The strongest opponents had all technical problems: Alex had a single cylinder TLR and drove immediately back to the pits, the battery of Gunnas TLS died after just two laps and Wolfgang had an overflowing/overheating cooling system that spit cooling water on his rear tyre.
Well, the result couldn't be better for me! Winner in both the sprint and endurance ranking, that's really perfect. I can only thank to everyone involved: The organizers, Wolfgang and our pit crew of the endurance race, Corsin+Wife and others.
Only little glitch was that my laptime was not faster than last year.
It's quite a long trip to Oschersleben: 850km. This time alone in the Mercedes Vito van.
The organizer announces at the drivers briefing, that we have to qualify for the endurance race of today. 75 teams signed-on, but only the best 55 can start. The 3h endurance race will be held from 4pm to 7pm.
Back on track I am immediately confident with the bike. The first two sessions were a bit rough with a lot of yellow and red flags. A quick check in the tower tells me that I should be plenty of qualified with a time of 1:43.
In the third session, I must have a blackout and try to brake stupid late at the back straight. Works once but goes bad the 2nd time: I brake a little bit too hard and the forks bottom out on a bump. The rear wheel lifts off and jumps sideways; I have no chance and have to open up and go straight through the gravel trap. Just sit back and relax... worked perfect except that these tyre walls zoomed in so fast that I somehow needed to stop that bike. The TL then got unstable when the gravel trap got deeper and deeper towards the end and it finally spit me off just at the end of the gravel trap. The bike ended up on the grass, myself crashed into the tyre walls.
The engine still ran, so I switched it off using the kill switch and put it on the wheels again. Short talk with one of the corner workers in the style "are you OK? Yes, bye!" I then drove it straight back to the pits.
Damage wasn't too bad: Left rearset bent, small crack in the front fairing and some scratches. The Woodcraft shift lever recently bought held perfectly, it wasn't bent the slightest! The rearset was bent back with rough hammer methods and the bike cleaned.
Then Wolfgang my team mate for the endurance race pleased me to take our team transponder and turn some laps to ensure the qualification. He had some problems with the track and only drove 1:47 laptimes. Unfortunately my effort was too late, because the qualyfing was only until 12:00. Now the question was if we qualified or not. 53rd place of 55, phew!!! Unfortunately not all TL teams qualified.
Our strategy for the 3h endurance race was to drive two sessions of 45min each. The start turn would be driven by me this time. I mounted the black rim with an as new Metzeler K2 slick, on the front the good Dunlop KR106 slick stayed on the rim.
The race began exactly at 4PM with the traditional Le Mans start. The engine fired up instantly and I got off the line quite good, then got stuck in traffic on the s/f line but gained a lot of places in the first lap. What an adrenaline push! When I passed the worst traffic, I began to lap constantly. Unfortunately there were two very slow pace car phases. The 2nd yellow phase was towards the end of my session, but me and the pit crew remarked it too late so we had to do our pit stop just after the pace car phase.
Now its up to Wolfgang for the next 45 mins. I refuel the TL, put the tyre warmers on and drink and eat something.
My 2nd session goes well, there is no yellow phase. I drive together with a GSX-R 1000 for a long time. That's big fun, but also a lot of work. I am really very very tyred at the end of these 45 mins.
Wolfgang drives it home with consistent but not as fast lap times as mines. So we end up on the 2nd place of the TL ranking behind Daniel and Peter. We are out of the top 15 of the overall ranking, though. My personal best laptime is 1:41.348
In the evening I mounted a new Metzeler K2 slick for the sprint race of tomorrow. Beer&barbecue as usual.
When I wake up, I hear rain drops. No!! Gunna was right with his weather forecast. So I mount the rims with the rain tyres and drive about half an hour. I don't know why, but I can't get a real feeling for these Pirelli/Metzeler rain tyres, I'm a bit lost there. But the track dries out already. So I decide to let the others drive the track dry. I prepare the slicks with tyre warmers and eat something for breakfast.
At 10:20, the organizer announces that the free practice is over and qualyfing will start right now until 12:00. That means exactly two qualyfing sessions for my group. So I leave with well heated Slicks for some fast laps. I get some clear laps and can drive a personal best of 1:41. That's 2nd position behind Harry and ahead of Koebes and Daniel.
In the afternoon, the TL Cup will be the first race. In the race briefing, the race mode is explained: Pre grid in the pit lane, drive to the starting grid. Then one warmup lap and a standing start. 10 race laps. I mount the rim with the brand new Metzeler rear slick. The front Dunlop slick once again stays.
At 14:15 we are in the pre grid in the pitlane and drive to the starting grid. Then the warmup lap and back to the starting grid. It will count now! Red light, off, START! My start works out perfect, in my right eye I see Harry dropping back. Yes, at least leading time! I lead the race for only about 3 laps until Harry overtakes me close but clean in the Hasselroeder hairpin. Unfortunately I can't follow him, he's too fast. So I drive my own race and end up on a comfortable 2nd place ahead of Daniel. Well, more wasn't possible today. My fastest lap is 1:40.313
Sunday is explained quickly: Driving home another 850km.
Monday I inspected the bike closely and found out that the cooling fan was bent and thus blocked. I was lucky that it never kicked in! Rearset was straightened out on a heavy press and the fairings repaired.
|Photos John Flint and www.serve-u.de||My photos|
What a great field of TL drivers in Oschersleben! There were 8 drivers in the range of a 1:42 lap time (including Harry's alien time of 1:37) and another 7 drivers in the range of 1:47, including one SV-650. That meant a lot of action for the TL cup race! I have to write a word about the winner Harry Gres: He is not anybody, but a very experienced driver. He drove various championships including World Endurance Championship. That explains why he was almost 3s faster than the rest of the TL world. In this point of view, my two 2nd places aren't bad at all.
Finally I have to thank the organizers and to my endurance team Bikeroffice Racing. And to all the compeditors, it was a really great event!
Video of the start, filmed from the grandstand using Peter Kampmann's camera
Here's my report from the famous Brno GP track in Czech Republik. A very interesting yet very difficult track...
I signed up together with some friends of a Ducati Dealer near me: We were 5 to head to Brno: Me (TLS), Koni (848), Finn (999S), Gianni (1098S) and Marco (Triumph Daytona 675)
Finn and me travelled with my Mercedes Vito van. Brno is quite a long trip, over 1000km one way! Somewhere in Germany we stopped and ate something. Shortly after this break, the van felt a bit "spongy" on the highway and just half a minute later the rear right tyre exloded at 130kph. We had to mount the spare tyre, then organize a new spare tyre and lost about 2h. After some exhausting 13h we finally arrived in Pit #17 in Brno.
We shared the pit with a Ducati Zurich, another Swiss Ducati Dealer. There were 20 machines in our pit, roughly 15 Ducati out of that. Quite nice machinery in there: 848, 996, 998, 999, 999S, 999R, 1098, 1098S and even a brand new 1098R! Nice dreams sleeping between these :-)
Weather wasn't good. It rained and the sky was all dark, so it would probably rain until lunch. The organizer scheduled free practice until the rain stops. I immediately mounted the rims with the rain tyres and prepared everything for a rain session. When I wanted to head out, there was already a red flag phase, so I had to wait a bit.
Learning the track in wet conditions wasn't really an easy task. Well, after 2 or three laps I knew where it turns left and right. But already in the 5th lap, shit happened. I must have forgotten to brake after s/f and braked incredibly late at about 100m. Well, it was probably even too late, because when I wanted to turn in still very very slightly on the brakes, the front wheel immediately let go. I slid over the track on my ass, nothing too worrying. Rather worrying was to see the TL flipping numerous times when it entered the gravel trap. I picked it up and three marshals helped me to push it out of the gravel trap. I was fortunately completely fine. But the bike wasn't: Front fairings and screen completely destroyed, all brake levers on the right side bent or broken off. A lot of crap all over the bike, too. Shit! A van brought me back to the pits. The guys did speak three words english: "Hello, Pit?, sit!" (means: Hello. What pit number? Please sit on bike while we bring you back).
Back in the pits a damage report: Rain suit: Trash. Helmet and leathers: Perfectly OK. Boots and gloves: Almost no damage. Biggest problem for the TL was that I didn't take a spare screen with me, so I had to organize something similar that would more or less fit. I ended up with a GSX-R 750 K3 screen, that has a similar shape but is much shorter.
Finn was so friendly to help me to repair the machine during the morning. We replaced both brake levers, put on a new footpeg and new crashpad, repaired the cooling fan and the exhaust cans and washed the whole bike twice (about 10kg of gravel and crap fell off). Then we adapted the GSX-R screen and taped the front fairings together using a shitload of duct tape. Finally the front rain tyre had to be taken off to remove the gravel between tyre and rim! Many thanks to the tyre and parts service, GL Motorradtechnik! Finally we cured some minor electrical problems because of wet/dirty connectors.
By about 14:00, the track was dry and the TL was ready to race on slicks again. The organizer announced normal schedule by 14:40. So free practice in groups. Koni and me were in the red group and left together. I did one lap and then went back to pits again to check everything for water and/or oil leaks. Everything OK. The machine felt about OK, screen was very low so I had to keep my head on the tank on the straights. From the 2nd session on, I had big problems with the rear end after just some laps. It felt very very loose and the tyre went off like nothing. I was really worried something wasn't right with the rear suspension, but couldn't find anything wrong. In the evening, I went to Ruedi, the guy I shared the paddock tent with in Valencia. He told me that anyone had problems with the rear tyre. "Just put on a new rear tyre and don't worry". OK, done that.
The personal best of the day was a shocking slow 2:27 (target for our group was a 2:15 to 2:21). The organizer proposed to stay in the red group anyway.
We then went for dinner to the hotel where the rest of our group stayed. Slept very deep in the pits again.
5 sessions of free practice scheduled, the first four of them for qualyfication for the following GP race (14 laps). Koni and me set a qualification for the GP2 race as the target. But we have to improve a lot, only the fastest 48 can start.
Already in the first session, things go much better. With the new rear tyre, confidence is back! Koni and me drive together and discuss lines after the sessions. It's amazing that the TLS and 848 seem to be quite equal on this track: The 848 has a slightly better top speed. But I can make up some ground on the uphill sections where the slightly better torque of the TL kicks in. But it's clear that Koni has a lot less of work on the Duc, it turns so much better.
Until end of qualyfing, I'm on a 2:22.126 time. That's about 10th or 11th row out of 12. Koni is a row ahead, Benno from our pits a row behind on a GSX-R 750 K5. Not the greatest places on the grid, but the target was clearly qualification and thus we're happy!!!!
Before the last session, I raise the rear by adjustable suspension link by about 5mm, to make the TL turn a bit better. It seems to work excellent. Just before the race, I put on a new set of tyres: Front a new soft-medium Dunlop KR106 slick (6178 compound) and on the rear a new Metzeler Racetec K2 slick. Race mode will be the following: Pitlane opens for 3 minutes. During this time, you have to leave the pits and drive one lap to the starting grid. Then directly a standing start. No warmup lap!
Thanks to many helping hands, leaving the pits on time was really no concern. I pushed quite hard on the lap to the starting grid to get a feeling for the new front tyre and to warm it up properly. We all ligned up on the starting grid. Red lights, out, GOOOO!! I had a good start, but got caught a little bit in traffic on the s/f line. In the first lap, I gained a lot of places driving the inside line whenever possible. I then was in front of a whole pulk of bikes when a red GSX-R tried to pass me on the inside when braking after the back straight. Well, he didn't think that I was very late already and had to open up. His rear wheel crossed my line about 5cm ahead my front wheel, phew!! After leaving that pulk behind me and overtaking some more opponents, I could drive some almost free laps and things calmed down a bit. By about half distance, an older 750 Yamaha inline 4 passed me at the end of S/F straight. I followed him closely, but I couldn't catch him again. On the straights, he gained each time, while in some corners I could make up some time. When my front tyre began to slid in the long and downhill right handers, I had to let him go, but never lost him out of sight. When the pit board signaled two laps to go, I turned my head and saw there was nobody behind me. So lets go, catch this damn Yamaha! I started my final spurt and when I crossed s/f for the last lap, I was only 20m behind. When I was at the lowest part of the track, I was quite close and he must have heard the sound of the TL. At the uphill chicane, I took a lot of risk and accelerated as hard as I could. And then, in the 2nd last corner, he enterer a tad wide. My chance!! I entered the corner on the inside line with a lot of speed and passed him. Even when I ran wide on the exit, he couldn't catch me again because there was only one more corner to go where I drove a tight line. Whow, what a finish :-)
End result was an 18th place out of 48 starters. Not bad, considering I had to dig through half of the field starting from one of the last lines of the grid. Personal best was a 2:20.276. The race was indeed very interesting, I received a few comments where people had enjoyed watching my race on the "loud TL".
For tomorrows free practice, I put the gold rim with the older rear tyre back in
Schedule: 1 session of free practice, then 5 sprint races in different categories. Koni, me and Benno are in the 750/V2 class. Qualification was no problem, I'm in the 5th line on the grid. Koni is 5 places ahead of me, Benno a few behind.
In the only practice session in the morning, I had a horrible feeling for the front tyre. He got torn up in yesterdays GP race and looked and felt really bad. Braking and right hand corners went really bad. So I bite the dust and bought another Dunlop KR106 front tyre. This time in medium compound (6136). The rear tyre looked still almost brand new and thus stayed on the rim.
Our category was the 3rd sprint race after the Speer Power Cup and the 600 class. Same race procedure as yesterday, with the exception that the race has only 8 laps. Finn (999S) and Mauro (999R) from our pits compete as well in this class.
In the starting grid, Konis position was occupied by others so there was a little delay until things were right. My start was excellent again and I gained quite some places, passed Koni as well. But I was trapped in traffic at the end of the back straight and lost some places again. I was running good, but not as good as yesterday. Koni passed me at about half distance entering one of the very-heavy-on-frontend downhill righthanders. Well, I simply couldn't go his speed entering the 1st turn and the righthander at the lowest part of the track. I felt my frontend wasn't really perfect. The only part where I was catching up a little bit was the uphill part after the last chicane. But unfortunately I couldn't catch the 848 again and finished 2s behind Koni.
Total ranking was 13th place for Koni and 14th for me. But more important, Koni won the V2 ranking, I was 2nd and Mauro powered to 3rd with his very well running (>160hp) 999R. That means our pit completely occupied the rostrum of the V2 class. That was celebrated with champagne!! Personal best was a 2:20.047.
Unlucky was that my cup fell apart on the way back to the pits. I had to repair again!
We drove about two times 20m mins of free practice in the afternoon. From our pit, I was granted to testdrive a brand new GSX-R 1000 K8. Very interesting indeed, but very different from a TL! Very different position on the bike and you have to keep the revs up to 10000u/min for the real bite. I would have to drive longer on that bike to only nearly push it to its limits. Thanks to the owner who let me drive!!
The rest is quickly written: We drove back from 18:00 Sunday to 04:00 Monday back in Bern. I tell you I had something like jet lag (or simply missed some sleep) for the whole week.
Brno is a very beautiful, very interesting track. Unfortunately I didn't only have luck. The crash in the rain was my fault. TL looks a bit beaten up now. That I chewed up three Dunlop front tyres was a nightmare. The track is very hard on tyres and the soft Dunlops really didn't work. But the races were really big, big fun and the target to drive a 2:20 time was met.
When I checked the TL back at home, I remarked that the forks were distorted in the upper and lower triple. So when the front wheel was aligned perfectly to the rear wheel, the clipons were pointing to one side. I could fix that by loosening all bolts of the front end. The left fork took a hit from the clipon, but it still works without a glitch.
Ducati Bern asked me if I wanted to drive instead of a friend at Circut de Bresse, France. Of course I wanted, in special because the track near Bourg-en-Bresse is only 3h from my home.
Saturday afternoon we drove to the track with two Vans and a car and installed us in the paddock.
Sunday the weather was beautiful, fortunately the (bad) forecas was wrong. In the morning I had to pass the 95dB noise check, not a problem with stock cans. Then I had to learn the track. Quite a tight track, turns a lot to the left and the right, many esses. Power is not so important, the "straights" are very short. With 16-40 final drive ratio, you can drive almost everything in 3rd gear. I need about one session to learn the track.
In the 2nd session everything goes well until I almost ran into a scooter (yes, a scooter!) with three wheels (you read right, three wheels)!! Holy crap, that was close, because he was at least 50 or 100kph slower than me. I lapped him again in the same session. Of course I complain at the organizer about the scooter and asked to change the group. Well, he didn't let me change group, but I never saw the scooter again.
Then it's explained quite quickly: I was clearly in the wrong group, either I was too fast or the others too slow. To have 2 or 3 clear laps, I always started first. Then it was fun overtaking everyone. Only one faster bike in our group: A red Triumph Daytona 675. I follow him to learn lines.
Well, because the little Triumph impressed me a lot, I asked Marco if I could drive his Daytona 675. Thankfully he agreed and I was really impressed of the bike: Very stable, very light and good torque for that little engine. Mmmh, I like that!
In the last session, I unfortunately broke the gearbox and had to limp back to the pits in 6th gear. That was the end of the day - loaded the TL back into the van and drove home.
Later we found out that a cog broke and a large chunk of metal fell into the shift drum and blocked a shift fork.
Due to the gearbox problem, the preparation was a bit of stress.
Thursday 31. July the cooling system had to be checked and fairings mounted. Then loaded everything into the van and drove about 2h to the Hotel in France. I rejoined the old friend from Germany: Tom, Didi, Bardo, Martin, Klaus and so on. Corsin drove at Anneau du Rhin this day and sent me a short message: "very hot, many crashes". Yes it was blistering hot today.
Friday, 1st August
Swiss Independence day, but the weather didn't seem to like it. We installed us into the "forest paddock" but didn't have much time to mount tents because Tom and me were driving int he first group. This first session was still just dry. When we came back it began to rain and we had to mount the tents in the rain. My parents joined us to watch me live for the first time.
We skipped 2nd session because it made no sense on slicks, simply too wet. The 3rd session was more or less dry again. Fortunately the track has really a lot of grip. 4th session just before lunch was dry as well, but rain started yet again at the end of our session.
During lunch break, everybody tried to make a weather forecast. Will it rain or will the sun come back? At a moment I decided that it would rain and mounted - to the discontent of Tom and the others - rain tyres. But I wa right, it was pouring rain when our 1st session in the afternoon started. Well, unforunately I coldn't find grip on these damn rain tyres again, even when the track provided good grip. And worse, I had a lot of headshake on the straights under full load. I hate these tyres!
Next session was almost dry again and Tom decided to give it a go on the dry tyres. I left the rain tyres on and went out with these. And to my big amazement, they ran super good in these intermediate conditions. I could drive lean angles like in the dry. Good thing was I didn't care to leave the line like the guys on dry tyres. But I still had this headshake on the straights.
Well, for the last turn my weather forecast was wrong. My bet was there would be more rain, but it was dry. The bikes stayed in the pit, we went back to the hotel for a delicious lunch.
|Sportfoto Trescher||Photos Werner Rufer|
Saturday, August 2nd
Today we won't have weather problems. It was sunny and it would stay like this. We installed us at the same place in the paddock and went out for the first session. This time Klaus joined us in the fastest group. In general, there was much more traffic on track. There were also some slow drivers in this fast group, but it wasn't really a problem.
Unfortunately Klaus fell at the 11:00 session at the end of the chicane / entry of back straight. Worse was, that the following opponent had no way to go and ran over him. Klaus broke its right arm and was brought to hospital. So we loaded his two bikes on the trailer and prepared everything to bring him home as fast as possible during lunch.
The afternoon is explained quickly: I was always one of the fastest of our group, the bike was working very very well. With the training in Bresse, flicking the bike quickly from the left to the right worked much better now. Footpegs were scratching from now and then, even when I raised the rear by 5mm now.
A good day with the exception of Klaus' accident. He was really unlucky to be ran over, but he was not too unlucky with "only" a broken arm.
A report of the 3rd and final round of the TL1000 Cup
TL1000 Cup standings before
The standings so far were good and bad for me. Good was that I had already 45 points out of a 1st and 2nd place. Bad was that Harry Gres had won the 2nd round. In other words: I have to beat an ex World Endurance Championship driver in the final round if I want to win the cup again!
Well, the preparations didn't go perfect. At the beginning of July I crashed in the rainy Brno and demaged the TL heavily. Then by end of July in France the gearbox was blocked in 6th gear and the engine had to be rebuilt. Thanks to Bikeroffice the engine was rebuilt in almost no time (Bikeroffice is the name of our TL Endurance team and also the name of the shop Wolfgang owns).
Drove to Oschersleben by van. Only about 800km now that I know a shortcut :-)
Gunna and Uwe from our pit were dancing/dreaming for rain all night. It was still just dry but the weather didn't look too promising. Wolfgang and me were this time better organized and the Team transponder for the endurance race was always mounted to the faster bike to ensure qualification. There were some crashes of TL drivers, most notably Daniel who crashed just in front of me when entering the chicane. Nobody was hurt but there was a lot to repair in the pits. In the mean time I drove our qualification time for the endurance race: 1:41 That should be good enough.
At lunch the qualification officially ended. At least we thought so. So I drove some laps with my own transponder which finally was a good idea. The guys of the timing didn't understand the qualification scheme and counted ALL transponders, not just those that were inscribed for the endurance race. Now there was a big mess on the time sheets and no team knew if they were qualified or not. Finally there was a list - just minutes before the prestart.
The weather concerned us more. The clouds got darker and darker. We decided to mount full wet tyres on one and slick tyres on the other bike. The driver with the right tyres on his bike would drive the start turn. Just minutes before the start of the 3h endurance race, it began to rain. So it was Wolfgang who drove the first 45min session. During that time, I mounted the rims with rain tyres on my bike, the track wouldn't dry out enough. Corsin helped me, he and Rene joined our pitcrew because they didn't qualify. I then left for my first session with drying track. Perfect conditions for my hard compound rain tyres. I drove our best lap of 1:50. Towards the end of the session, it began to rain again and Wolfgang drove another wet turn. Unfortunately the rain didn't stop again and so I had to drive my last 45min in very heavy rain. I couldn't get a feeling for the tyres and drove very slow. We lost 3 to 5 places in these last 45mins, but hey, I didn't crash.
After 3h we were 15th out of 29 classified teams. Not too bad, not too good. In the TL ranking we were 4th. But honestly nobody was really sure if the results were 100% right. You remember the mess with the timing? As example there were rumours that the inlap after the chequered flag was still counted.
After a very windy and rainy night, the rain finally stopped. The track was still drying up, so I drove my first session on rain tyres. I had a lot of wobble on the S/F line and backstraight as yesterday, otherwise the turn was OK.
From the 2nd turn we could drive slicks again. I mounted the rims with the Dunlop/Pirelli Slicks and drove my qualification time of 1:41.2. The rear tyre had still quite some thread left, but did slide quite much in extreme lean angles.
After lunch I tried another compound Dunlop slick on the front and got excellent confidence in this tyre. For the TL cup sprint race, I mounted another rear rim with a slightly used Metzeler K2 slick, this time in the big 190/55 dimension.
When the starting grid was published just 15min before the opening of the pitlane, I remarked that my number was missing and that there was a non-TL driver on pole instead. What a crap timing!! A few words in the race control tower corrected things.
13:15, pregrid for the TL1000 Cup. It took a bit long until everybody was on the grid and it took even longer until the organizer was ready to leave us onto the warmup lap. So it happened that I had difficulties engaging the first gear and completely messed up my start to the warmup lap: Monster wheelie instead of a smooth start. Phew.
Now we're back on the grid for the start of the 10 lap sprint race. Me (TLS) on pole, 2nd place is empty (Daniel destroyed his TLR), 3rd is Lars (TLR), 4th is Alex (TLR). My start was really bad and I entered the first corner on about 5th position. Two corners further I was already 3rd and in the final corner I was able to catch and pass Alex, so I was already first when we crossed the s/f for the first lap. From this point on it was a very clear back to back win for me. In the 3rd lap I looked over my shoulder, but there was nothing behind me. I finally won with a huge 35s gap over Lars and Alex. Fastest lap was 1:40.2 by me. Not much time for celebrating victory, because I was also driving in the official the 750/V2 class. So tyre warmers and a refuel for the bike, water and snacks for me.
The pregrid for the 750 race was delayed quite a bit but nobody informed us. So the tyres got cold. On the grid, there was another delay. Somebody didn't find his grid position and decided to turn around and drive back to the pits, what the heck! Finally we were waved onto the warmup lap. The start worked out better but still not very good. I lost some more places when I looked at an opponent who ran wide and thus ran wide myself aswell. Then in the 2nd lap, I suddenly saw a lot of smoke in the first corner. I immediately slowed down and raised my left hand. There was a lot of stuff flying around, a driver was tumbling all over the track, in short it was a big pile up in the first corner. With a bit of luck I found a way round and returned to the pits after the obvious red flag.
A restart for a shorter 6 lap race was announced and finally took place after the ambulance picked up the injured drivers and all debris was cleaned off the track. There was no warmup lap, directly the real start. This time I didn't start so bad and was only passed by the guy just aside me. By the end of the first lap, a guy on a RC51 in front of me went straight into the gravel in the last corner. Well, I saw some rain drops on my screen and it seems it was already wet enough to be slippery. One lap later there was again yellow flag in the last corner. This time two from the leading group had crashed out heavily. It was strange because it rained ONLY in the last corner. But it rained really bad there! After another careful lap, I called it a day and abandoned the race. The risk was too high for a "just for fun" race.
|Phil, www.serve-u.de||Photos Oetti|
TL Cup standings after
Well, because Harry didn't attend the last round, it was clear that I would win the TL Cup again even before I won the race. Now I have two wins and a 2nd place and have won the cup again. Whoooo hooo!!
It was another great TL event!! The field was quite impressive and there was no serious accident. And it's worth to mention that there was not a single pace car phase in the all wet 3h endurance race! Yes, even when the weather wasn't always good, we always had something to laugh :-)
Not the best experience were the guys who did the timing. Chaos...