Note: If you can read German, read the German reports. The English reports are often just short summaries.
Over winter the bike has been repaired after I caught another bike at the last event in Hockenheim. Technically the bike didn't change. During the season some minor tweaks have been made: 1/5 throttle grip, added a quickshifter and consequently changed to reverse (GP) shift pattern.
This season Corsin and I decided to join the Speer PowerCup, because of the great tracks and because of the good competition. We travelled together to most events to keep travel costs down and because it's more fun.
I had to drive a little detour to pick up Corsin in Basel. We left the Tuesday morning at Basel and went through Switzerland and France to get to Spain. The weather was just terrible in southern France, we had everything from rain over thunderstorms and hail! When we arrived in Spain, the worst weather was behind us, but there was still very heavy wind that damaged a lot of tents in the paddock. We decided to Join Ueli in a pit to have a dry place for us and the bikes.
The weather was now dry but still quite cold. I had to begin from zero with the bike, the last time I drove was some 7 months ago! Even when I already knew the track, I couldn’t get the lap times down. Last but not least the boots were brand new and I had to get used to them as well. Finally I had trouble with my right wrist falling asleep on the very long backstraight... fortunately there's really a lot of run-off at the end of the straights.
Today we are supposed to do the GP race. But the weather wasn’t really kind with us. It began to rain just after the first session. Corsin and I decided to mount the wet tyres and give it a try. The track actually didn’t feel so bad in the wet. The race was shortened and started as a wet race, even when the track was drying up. It was difficult to drive because a small stripe of the track got dry except at the Corkscrew where the whole track remained wet. In the end I was happy to finish the race, the result wasn’t that important.
The goal of today was obviously the first round of the PowerCup. I tried to improve my laptimes in the morning. For the race I mounted a new Dunlop KR108 in 7712 compound. The race was not bad until I caught a false neutral when braking for the downhill chicane. I lost a lot of time because I had to take an emergency exit. In the end I got only 12th.
Because we weren’t allowed to stay in the pits overnight, Corsin and I drove back home over night. I arrived home at about 9:00 in the morning and definitely needed some sleep.
- Bike works great, driver needs to improve
- The weather wasn't really great, but 2 of 3 days were OK
- Very well organized
The bike has been serviced and a 1/5throttle of the Yamaha R6 had been mounted. Oh and I did wear-in those boots on the road!!
Corsin and I loaded the van in Basel around noon. Well unfortunately we were caught in lots of traffic jams in Germany. At the end we had to hurry to get into the paddock just before the door closes at midnight. We put the bikes in a pit and fell asleep.
This day was not part of the race weekend but also open to beginners. There were four groups, I opted for the fastest (white) group. Corsin and I both needed some time to get up to temperature, but at the evening I had a 1:37 lap time, thus a good second slower than last year but already not too bad.
In the afternoon I raised the rear of the bike to make it handle better throught the tight chicanes and corners at Oschersleben. Thanks to the Ohlins rear shock this is really a piece of cake: Put some stands under the footpegs, remove rear wheel and, loosen the lock nut at the end of the shock, turn it to adjust, tighten lock nut, put back wheel, done. The bike felt a lot better but looking at the tyre I had gone a bit too far, so I had to go a tad lower again. I picked up a new rear slick at the tyre service.
In the evening Corsin and I picked up some fuel and food. Corsin cooked some great pasta along the barbecue. Some beers later it was time to sleep...
Todays schedule is the GP race. But the Qualy session was the first barrier, there were about twice as much contenders as grid positions in the 1000 class. I had no problem to qualify and ended up in the 4th row on the 16th position on the grid. Corsin failed to qualify and decided to buy a set of Pirelli tyres that entitled him to start in the Pirelli Cup later in the day.
The medium-soft front tyre didn't last long. I picked up a slightly used Dunlop KR106 302 "strong" in front of our pits and decided to give it a go along with another new rear tyre.
This was the first race with standing start in this season. It is organized a bit different than the championship races: Pit lane opens for 3 minutes and you directly drive to outlap the starting grid. There's no extra warmup lap! My start was good and I gained some positions. However I was not very agressive in the first corner and consequently lost some positions again. I had a hot fight with a red BMW and later with Ruedi who was in the gravel end entered the track again just in front of me. I couldn't quite follow him and my race began to be a bit boring... until I caught that damn plastic post in the chicane with my HAND. Ouch, that woke me up again!! In the end I finished on 12th position, best lap time 1:35.6 which is faster than last year. I was happy that all my lap times were within one second, at least quite consistent. Patrick won the race with an unbelievable 18s gap and a mighty 1:31 fastest lap.
Corsin quickly adapted to the Pirelli tyres and drove his race in the evening.
In the evening I refueled canisters for half of the paddock when corsin prepared dinner.
The sunday morning sessions aren't taken into account for the qualification of the PowerCup. So it makes little sense to drive in very different ambient temperatures than the race will be. So I put on the rim with the better front tyre and drove just some laps to check if I hadn't forgot how to drive. Everything OK, still a 1:35 on the laptimer.
The PowerCup was scheduled for 11:00. Exactly the same procedure and distance as yesterday. But today I was 8th on the grid, thus 2nd row. My start was good but I was caught in traffic in the first corner. Tim on another Suzuki ovetook me later in the race and I unfortunately couldn't quite follow him. I had a quite boring race and ended up 7th. I improved my personal best lap time to 1:34.9, but that was still some 3 seconds slower than Patrick!
Corsin drove another Pirelli Cup Race after the PowerCup. However he came into the pits after the sighting lap with a missing shift rod. I was able to mount him a spare part in a big hurry and he didn't loose a position... OK to be honest he was last on the grid as well ;-) He finished the race in style!!
After all the races, Corsin and I swapped bikes. His engine feels a bit better than mine, but on my bike clutch and brakes are worlds ahead! Well his clutch really doesn't work well, it's much too grippy when accelerating and more surprisingly in the braking zones as well. I almost lost the rear when driving into the last corner without much if any antihopping effect... oops.
We then loaded up everything in the van and drove home overnight... this time without traffic jams.
- The weather was simply PERFECT. 25° C and sunny all time
- Very well organized, very few crashes
- I had some trouble with arm pump. Need more training!
- R6 throttle works great!
- Quickshifter ordered!
The bike has been upgraded with a HM Quickshifter. Very easy fit, everything is plug&play and you don't need to modifiy the loom! The quickshifter has no moving parts, looks very solid. I set it up with 65ms kill time and a sensitivity of 70.
I picked up Corsin in Basel and from there we used his Tomtom navigation to get to Magny-Cours. Well the navigation chose a very strange route from Basel over Delémont to France, I think it likes small roads... not very funny with the van :) About the same story from Beaune to Magny-Cours but the road wasn't so bad and we had no traffic. Well otherwise really nothing to report... yes and we even found a fuel station that had actually open and accepted one of our credit cards! Not always the case in France...
At about 22:00 we were at the track and joined Pit #44 with Ueli and the others that we always meet there. There were also some more guys from Bern in the neighbour pit.
Well I last drove on this track back in 2005, ages ago!! I was assigned the 2nd fastest group, the red group. There should be enough of time to re-learn the track. I actually remembered where the track was goin left and right, but I had to find all braking points again thanks to the much faster bike. Also the detailed lines had to be discovered again, certainly in the more difficult parts of the track. One thing that was still there is the braking point at the Adelaide hairpin: The bridge at 200m is really the last reminder to get hard on the brakes. Gearing worked well and I already caught a lot of slow bikes at the end of the first session.
Corsin didn't have a good first session and was just removing all the gravel out of his lower fairing when I got back. It was actually just a small crash in the gravel and not bad, but of course he had to live with some jokes in the pit ;-)
In the next session my goal was to improve the combination T1 and T2 that is really difficult to drive. Times dropped down to 1:53, so I had to find just a second to get into the fastest group. I found this second in the first session in the afternoon and was allowed to join the fastest (white) group now. This allowed me to improve to 1:51.7. In the last turn I tried another front wheel because I wasn't very happy with the brake rotors of the other wheel. The brakes were definitely a big improvement, but the front tyre on this rim was over. In the evening I swapped the good rotors onto the rim with the better front tyre. I also had to change brakes pads... well the track is very hard on brakes!
Roland (one of the guys from Bern) destroyed his Honda in T1-T2 very badly, everything including the Ohlins forks was bent. He had no chance for repairs and had to leave. It was obvious that he wasn't the only one who crashed, there were a lot of badly crashed bikes in the paddock. The track is not so easy to drive!
In the evening we grilled outside and the weather was simply perfekt.
I improved my personal best int he first session to 1:51.62. Unfortunately the session ended early because of red flags. The next session was interrupted by red flags as well - not good because I was unable to improve my qualification time for the GP race. I checked the time sheets and was only 41th overall in a 44 grid. So I had to go out again to secure the qualification. Because I had some moments on the front I decided to have the front tyre changed and used a soft tyre on the other rim for the remaining qualy session. Unfortunately the last qualification practice session was interrupted by red flags again, a crashed bike ended up in the middle of the track!! In the end there were just 3 minutes left, so just one fast lap, like a superpole. I was unable to improve my laptime.
Well the good thing is I was qualified anyway, grid position 39, 10th row. Pole time was around 1:47 which would be good for Superstock European championship! Hopefully I can gain some positions with the standing start. Race procedure was the same as in Oschersleben: Just an outlap and then direclty a standing start. My start was quite OK and when braking for T1 I was about int he middle of the field and gained some more positions in T2. I was able to keep my position when braking for Adelaide. But then some opponents overtook me which was normal because they were lapping some 2s faster in the qualification. I just drove my race and tried to do my best. Unfortunately the rear tyre didn't feel so good, it missed some grip when fully leaned over. So it was difficult to catch up. At the end most of the opponents got tyred and I was able to overtake at least Emmanuel, but couldn't overtake two other bikes that were just ahead of me. In the end I was 22th with a personal best lap of 1:51.378. Honestly I expected a bit more with a new rear tyre, but obviously the new Dunlop compounds work slightly different than the old ones.
Corsin couldn't qualify for the GP race but took part in the Pirelli Cup again. His race was held still with good conditions. Later the weather got much cooler, there was a lot of wind and finally it began to rain during the night.
Well, unfortunately the whole day was wet or semi wet. The track hasn't got much wet grip and our race was cancelled because the conditions were too dangerous: It was wet but not enought wet for full wet tyres. On the other hand it was undriveable on slicks. I was a bit disappointed because I had some old wet tyres in the luggage - maybe perfect for these conditions. But in the end it was probably the right decision to cancel the race. The good news was that we were at 19:00 back at home.
- Weather was perfect except for the partially wet Sunday.
- No PowerCup Race - no points
- Very high level
- Well organized but a lot of crashes anyway
- Quickshifter works great!
For Brno I changed only a detail on the bike: The shift rod was equipped with precision rose joints by Schaublin. These are extremely expensive, but also excellent quality. I bought another set of front rotors to replace the set that began to wear at Magny-Cours.
Because there was no PowerCup Race at Magny-Cours, this race will be held in Brno as well. So we will drive 3 races instead of only two. I like the Brno track, but up to now had no success with the GSX-R on it.
The ambient temperatures were very very hot. So the journey was obviously not very funny in the black van withaut air condition. Corsin and I kept cool anyway. On the positive side, the highway arund Prague is now done and it seems the Czech could maybe rebuild the very old highway to Brno in the next 50 years for the first time... :-)
So in short words, the event was HOT, VERY HOT. Maybe that's one reason I couldn't get below 2:12.09 this year. The GSX-R was lacking a tad of power in this very hot ambient conditions, top speed was just around 257km/h (maybe 19.99 lower than all BMW). The rear tyre temperatures went over 100° C, amazing! The engine began to consume some oil, a clear sign that the next oil change is overdue.
Well I got in the points in all three races. My best race of the weekend was the GP1 race. I had a really great start, but the race was red flagged because an idiot crashed in the first corner and took out many opponents, including Ueli from our pit who had to go to the hospital. My restart was quite good again and I fought over the whole race in a group of 4 bikes. In the very last corner I was able to overtake Kurt to get my first top 10 finish in GP1, that was really a great race. The Powercup race (actually the one from Magny-Cours) was started later in the same afternoon. I followed Roland from the Neighbor pit on a very good 4th position until a cooling pipe was blown off his radiator and he highsided spectacularly in the 2nd last corner. I had to cross the fluid and lost my rhytm, two bikes overtook me. So in the end I finished 5th which was still the best result of the season.
The PowerCup race on Sunday was quite literally a shitty race. I had some sort of food poisoning and my stomach was very upset. Well I felt not as bad as Corsin who looked really bad and couldn't race. I finished the race but couldn't do better than 9th this time - I was exhausted before the race even began.
Brno is hard on tyres, this year was no exception. Another very expensive weekend, certainly for the fronts.
Fronts: Dunlop KR106 6813 and 8813 (medium-soft): Bad wear and they simply don't last. 302 (strong): OK but the tyre was over and I couldn't get a new one in this compound. 342 (medium) OK but had some moments.
Rears: Dunlop KR106 4886: Tyre looked perfect but lacked some grip when leaned over. Didn't like it. 7712 was good but didn't last very long because the asphalt temperature was a bit on the upper limit for this one. Finally I tried the 4902: PERFECT for these temperatures. I used it for two races and the tyre still looked perfect! Excellent grip.
The journey home felt a lot longer than usually because Corsin and I were still not really up to the task.
- Best GP race of the season!
- One good and one bad PowerCup race.
- Oil change overdue!
That's a report from the probably best italian track, Mugello Circuit, located between Bologna and Firenze. I knew the track only from TV and it looked very spectacular.
Preparations and journey
I obviously did an oil change because the engine used some oil in Brno. Engine looked fine, nothing unusual. I changed the mapping a little bit because it looked like it was running a bit too rich. I cleaned and adjusted the chain and checked that it was still within the limits measured over 20 links.
This time I travelled on my own, Corsin couldn't take part. I left at Tuesday noon and drove over the Gotthard to Italy. The last part from Bologna to Mugello is a quite spectacular highway in the hills. In the last highway exit I had a problem paying the highway tax because the machine wouldn't recognize the ticket. Not very easy to explain if you don't speak italian :)
At the track I joined the usual pit with the friends from Zurich. The track looked really interesting with quite amazing uphill/downhill sections. The weather was very good but also very hot. To cool down we opened some beers...
At the drivers briefing the organizers explain very detailed how to enter and how to leave the track. The pit lane is located on the main which actually isn't a straight but a very long S curve. It would be very dangerous if someone crossed the track when leaving the pit lane - the speed differences are huge, the big bikes reach almost 300km/h there. The friends also warned me that the bike will lift the front wheel in 6th gear when driving over the last "bump" in the main straight. And that's exactly where the pit lane joins the track. That's why you have to be so careful.
First session. I follow Ralf from our pit because he knows the track already. That's a great way how to quickly learn a track. When he enteres the Arrabiata in the first lap I thought he forgot to brake, but finally that's how you drive these two corners :-o Just after the Arrabiata, there's a hidden right hander that you can't see, yet another pitfall that I avoided by following Ralf. You certainly have to get the corners right on this track. At the end of the sessions yet another new thing to learn: The pit entry is not as usual on the beginning of the main straight (whell there's actually one there, too), but you usually leave the track on a shortcut what allows to clear the track very quickly. I can confirm that I like the track!!
The rear tyre wears bad, even when the track conditions are similar as in Brno. Well, it was just the first session, no worry yet. But the tyre is completely destroyed after the 2nd session and I have to change the rim. But the medium tyre tears up even worse. I measured the temperature and it had only 80° C - not quite enough for the Dunlop slicks. Bruno has some used slicks for sale and I buy a pair. The 8854 (medium-strong) rear tyre is mounted immediately, the 302 (strong) front tyre is put in storage for later use.
In the afternoon sessions I finally get a feeling for the rear wheel and the harder compound amazingly works perfect. 90° C is also within a good temperature range. Strange, up to now I never used such hard compounds on hot days, but if it works that's great.
Well, it's really hot outside! You almost can't drink enough. Because I don't know the track I use every single minute of track time to learn it. In the end I have a personal best lap time of 2:05.69. Because there are so many local drivers, it is doubtful if this will be enough to qualify for the GP race. For the race I have new slicks mounted: A 342 (medium) front slick and the soft (4902) rear slick that I had ordered. I was unsure if the soft rear would work.
In the evening our pit is out for eating in town. The "Rustico" in Scarperia is really worth a visit, it was very delicious. Of course we couldn't resist to visit the Gelateira as well...
The goal in the morning is to improve the qualy time. Well that was difficult because there were a lot of fast locals there, best time is a very quick 1:57! I can improve my time to 2:04.29 with a new rear tyre.
The GP race will be 12 laps long. I refuel the bike with about 14 liters of fuel, put on the rim with the better front tyre. It is extremely hot outside, so I drink a lot of water and eat a small meal. Because it is so hot, it is difficult to relax befor the race.
My grid position is in the 9th row, position 34 of 48. It will be a flying start. As you know I don't like flying starts and instead of overtaking someone, I get overtaken myself just after the Start/Finish line. After that I'm blocked behind a group of about 5 or 10 bikes. It is quite difficult to overtake in Mugello, there's no really easy corner to overtake! My favourite is the last corner where you can drive many lines. Some laps before the end of the race, someone in front of me leaves the track and holds me up doing so without signs. After that I have clear track and can improve my lap time down to 2:03.92. I cross the finish line as 21st, obviously not everyone finished the race.
I do another session after the race, but it is really too hot. Driving behind a Honda, I am lucky to not get hit when he drives over debris on the Start/Finish straight - at almost 270kph!! I go back to the pits and tell the race direction about the debris on the track. One word to the top speed of my bike: 285kph (by GPS) is quite OK and not that much slower than the newer bikes.
In the evening I eat with Daniel and his family, thanks for that. Later we have some beers with the neighbors in the paddock.
I skip the first session in the morning because the ambient and track temperatures are too different. My grid position for the cup race is 10th position - again just behing JF Bart, I hope he will start better this time.
The 2nd session is shortened because of an incident in the group before. There's just enough time left for two fast laps. New rear tyre for the PowerCup race. This time I chose the harder compound, this will be spot on at 11:20 with still moderate track temperature.
Again it's a flying start. Unfortunately JF in front of me has a really bad start, so I'm hold up. I can't overtake him in the first lap and the plan is to overtake him on the main straight. My bike runs better than his Kawa and I have no problems overtaking him on the straight. Maybe a second after I shifted in 6th gear there's a bad noise and I have suddenly no acceleration any more. WTF failed?? The clutch lever is all in. I raise my left hand and manage to brake for the first corner. I spot a service road and quit the track in the first corner.
But what the hell failed?? Finally I remark that the bike is missing the chain. Oh well, so the chain snapped at top speed! The corner worker sees it as well and reports it to the race direction. Damn chain, if it only held 9 laps more! After virtually kicking in the ass of Mr DID chains, I sit down and watch the race. When the bike is picked up, I see on the lap timer that the first lap was already a 2:03.75 - and there was definitely room for improvement!
Back into the pits I inspect the damage: The bike is loosing water, so that was it. I load up everyting in the van and drive home. This time I drove over the Simplon Pass, I feared the usual traffic jams at the Gotthard.
Well, zero points in the PowerCup! A snapped chain should never happen, certainly not with a 530 chain! I should have changed it before! For reference, it was a DID ERV 530.
On the other hand it was also quite lucky. The chain snapped at well over 260kph with a Ducati very close behind me and it could have gone much worse!
Finally the damage on the bike was not so bad. The chain damaged the water pump housing and all mounting points of the sprocket cover. The engine case was checked and proved to be OK.
Obviously the chain had to be replaced and the damage on the bike had to be repaired. When the chain was out, I decided to take the swingarm and suspension linkage out and check and lube all bearings. The biggest work to get the linkage out was to remove that damn side stand holder. Someone at Suzuki decided to use high strength threadlock, it was almost impossible to get the damn bolts out!
The van got a trailer hitch because Corsin bought a trailer.
Corsin couldn't attend this event. I decided to travel together with Daniel. He has a big 1.5 ton trailer, of course we wouldn't be speeding with the 110hp van and this...
The journey was quite OK except that Daniels wife called somewhere in France, asking if he didn't need his helmet. Of course he would, but he had forgotten it!! But we were way too far to return to Switzerland. Finally they decided to ship it Express. At about 22:00 we arrived at the Circuit Catalunya. We decided to join a pit because it was not clear if it would rain or not.
Unfortunately the morning was wet. But the weather forecast was better for the afternoon, so only few people drove in the wet. Daniel tried everything to get his helmet. The helmet had arrived In Barcelona, but was blocked in Customs. Damnit!! In the end Ueli gave him his spare helmet.
My first session was at 15:00. The soft rear tyre was destroyed in just one session, so I had to change rim already for the 2nd session. My highlight of the day was the BMW that always quit the pits at the same time as me. He was fast on the straights (well the bike is fast), but slow in the turns and also on the brakes. I was behind him on the straight, but by far not in slipstream so I had no intention to overtake him at T1. I usually brake at the 200m sign, but this time the bike in front of me very suddenly got bigger and bigger, so did my eyes. It seems he braked at 300m. I was quite surprised and had no time to react and pull to the inside. So the only way around him I saw was to on the outside over the curb. I got the corner and never saw him again... My personal best lap time was just a 1:57, but that was enough to appear on the first page of the results.
In the evening Daniel grilled something and I prepared some pasta and salad. Later in the evening the Belgians some pits further down the pitlane upset someone with their music and it ended up in a punchup, ah well.
The weather in the moring was a mix of dry and some drops falling. It was impossible to improve lap times with these chainging conditions. The hard 6838 rear tyre also proved to be too hard.
I managed to qualify for the GP race, but was only in 8th row (29th). So I decided to use an used rear tyre for the 14 lap race. There will be a flying start.
My start into the race wasn't bad, but the rear tyre lost a lot of grip already in the 5th lap. So that was definitely the wrong decision, I had no chance when accelerating out of the corners and the rear tyre was completely over when I crossed the finish line as 22nd. My personal best lap time was at just 1:56.0.
After the GP race I tried another used, but softer 7712 rear tyre for one session. But I failed to improve to 1:55.
In the evening, Daniel had sort of a grill challenge with the Belgians. We won it... we had everything ready before they really started. I didn't stay up for a long time, I had driven a lot and was simply tyred.
Today the temperatures were a lot lower than the day before. I'd say maybe 5 degress C in the morning. It made no sense to drive the first session, it was too cold. The 2nd session was good as a warmup for the race. This time I put on a brand new rear slick for the race!
After the flying start, I had a big moment in T2 (the first left hander). The rear tyre was not fully up to temperature and I almost highsided it. I tried to stay in focus, because I knew I had some opponents right behind me. I had a hard time overtaking the BMW in front of me, the bike has about 30hp more than mine and runs a lot better on the straight. I finally managed to overtake him with a blockpass at the end of the backstraight. I then tried to catch JF in front of me. His Kawasaki would be a lot easier to overtake on the main straight. But towards the end of the race, there were a lot of yellow flags - no overtaking. Driving towards the last lap, I was close enough to give it a go at the end of the main straight. But heck there were yellow flags again, damnit. That was it, I failed to overtake him in the last lap. In the end I was only 9th, personal best lap time 1:55.534.
Daniel and me drove two or three more sessions in the afternoon until we ran out of fuel. There was a strong crosswind on the main straight, which lead to some strange lines. Obviously it was difficult to improve lap times in free practice, the speed differences were simply too big. But we enjoyed the quite good weather. From home we got some reports of snow, we couldn't really believe that for the moment.
The journey back home was quite long. In Spain and south France, there were so massive head and crosswinds that the van failed to go faster than 80kph. In the end I decided to stay in the slipstream of a big truck, like that the van managed to do 90kph.
Somewhere near Valence we had to refuel. The people outside made the impression that it was very cold. It indeed was!! Daniel got some food in the Mc Donalds before we left again. And indeed somewhere near Grenoble there suddenly was snow on both sides of the Highway. So it was no joke. After a total of 11 hours, we arrived back home.
- Barcelona is a great track, but also quite difficult. Good traction on the rear wheel is most important. The rear tyre is used a lot, certainly on the right side.
- Weather was quite OK!
- Unfortunately I failed to improve in the PowerCup