Mixed conditions, tyre poker and podium gold

  

This weekend the long-awaited season opener of the International German Motorcycle Championship (IDM) took place in the Motorsport Arena in Oschersleben in Germany. Team Manager Werner Daemen’s EGS-alpha-Van Zon-BMW team was part of it again in new colors and with a new rider line-up.

 

The weather forecast made expectations for the weekend rather difficult, because it was impossible to predict what the Belgium-based team can expect this weekend. In addition to rain showers, there was also a glimpse of sun on the weather radar. Anything was possible.

 

The practice Friday looked very promising with a second position for Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR). Jan Mohr (AUT), the new addition to the team, finished the dry practice session in 15th place. Teammate Pepijn Bijsterbosch (NED) finished 16th on board of the BMW M 1000 RR and Tim Eby (GER), the only one in the team riding the BMW S 1000 RR, got position 22.

 

The first qualifying on Saturday needed to be interrupted due to a crash and did not give the four EGS-alpha-Van Zon-BMW riders so much time for their fastest lap. After a third position in the first and a second position in the second qualifying, Mikhalchik qualified for third place overall for race one on Sunday morning. Bijsterbosch started the race with positions eleven and five from eleventh place on the grid. With positions 13 (QP1) and six (QP2), the Austrian Jan Mohr was able to commit himself to 13th place on the grid and Tim Eby started the first points-hunting session from 21st place on the grid.

 

On Sunday morning, a rather harsh, but dry climate showed its other side and already in the early morning hours the first raindrops brought a little more tension into the preparations for the 18-laps race. The ten-minute warm-up took place in the rain as the first full session of the weekend, which ended with a highside crash for Jan Mohr. Fortunately, the 23-year-old didn’t hurt himself and the BMW M 1000 RR was largely spared too. The choice of tyres for the difficult track conditions was a particular challenge for the other three riders of the team.

 

The field of the SBK1000 class started the first race under firmly wet conditions, as it had rained shortly before. But it was already clear that the track would dry up quickly after the rain stopped just in time for the starting grid. Mikhalchik lost four positions at the start of race one and finished the first lap in seventh place. Bijsterbosch was able to work his way up two positions and finished the first lap in ninth position. Eby also worked his way up one position. Mohr lost the most at his start into the first race. After lap one he was only in 18th place.

 

Mikhalchik started his race to catch up and on lap seven he had worked his way back to his starting position, up to position three. In lap ten the Ukrainian had Max Moser (Team Bonovo Action by MGM Racing), Bastien Mackels (Team SWPN) and his teammate from last season, Vladimir Leonov (Team Hertrampf MO Yamaha Racing) in front of him. Eight laps before the finish line, Mikhalchik lost more and more positions and in the end had to let pass Alessandro Polita (TEAM Holzhauer Racing Promotion), Dominic Schmitter (Team HESS Racing) and Julian Puffe (TEAM GERT56). He finished the first race with nine championship points in seventh place.

Bijsterbosch lost a total of three positions and crossed the finish line in 14th place behind Florian Alt (TEAM Wilbers-BMW-Racing).

Mohr and Eby rode a rather lonely race in positions 20 and 19. In the end, Eby had to admit defeat to his team mate, although he was able to defend his position well for the whole race and let him slip with 19th place in his pocket just at the end.

 

The second race started after another heavy rain shower, with the reverse grid. Ilya Mikhalchik shot out of his fourth starting position and led the race in the first corner. After a brief swap of positions with Alessandro Polita and Vladimir Leonov, the Ukrainian slipped back to third and after an overtaking maneuver by Florian Alt to fourth. But already in lap two Mikhalchik was able to fight his way back to second position and on the third lap of the race the 24-year-old passed Leonov and led the race confidently to the finish line. With a best time of 1’26.790, the regular rider of the EGS-alpha-Van Zon-BMW team was unbeatable in the second race.

Pepijn Bijsterbosch finished his second race in tenth place and has made up four positions from his 14th on the grid. Jan Mohr and Tim Eby finished in 15th and 16th place.

 

Due to the ongoing corona pandemic, the race took place in front of empty ranks. Spectators were able to follow the races thanks to the very professional and extensive live stream of the event on Facebook or YouTube. The next event of the series will take place from June 11th to 13th in Most, Czech Republic.

Ilya Mikhalchik, # 37:

“I think this is really one of the most emotional and best victories I’ve achieved so far. I’ve been waiting for this since 2019. We worked very hard for this win. We didn’t choose the right tyres in the first race. Nevertheless, I was in the top 10 and scored important points for the championship. We were better prepared in the second race and it shows the level of the bike. I am very happy and thank my whole team for the hard work. I hope that we will continue to work at this top level.”

Pepijn Bijsterbosch, # 55:

“The first weekend of the season went really well after the far too few tests in the preseason. Friday was very difficult for me, but we took a really good step on Saturday. The starting field is really very strong. In the first race we rode with rain tyres and that was the wrong decision, but I can’t change that now. In the second race I had my problems with the balance of the bike and unfortunately I couldn’t make up any more positions towards the end.”

Jan Mohr, # 5:

“First of all, I would like to express my thanks to the whole team. I have a lot of fun in the team and everything is very professional. On Friday we had a few difficulties and not much time to prepare because of the red flag in FP3. It was difficult to find a good set up. Still, I had a very good pace in qualifying. Unfortunately, I made a small mistake on my fastest lap and gave up a few positions. Because of my highside crash in the warm-up I lost a bit of confidence on Sunday and then the conditions in the two races were a bit unsafe for me as the track dried up, once with rain tiyes and once with dry tyres. I’m always very careful under those kind of circumstances. Next time I hope to be able to show what I am really capable of.”

Tim Eby, # 17:

“It was pretty tough for me, especially at the beginning of this weekend, because I couldn’t spend much time on the motorcycle in winter either. I first had to rebuild my confidence and the feeling for the speed. Then I had a very good feeling about qualifying. The warm-up today was the first time in the wet with this motorcycle. The races were very difficult for me because of the conditions. It was good that we chose the slicks in the second race. I learned a lot again this weekend and 16th place isn’t that bad for me either. I am now looking forward to Most and to continue working there.”

Werner Daemen, Team Manager:

“I am really quite satisfied with Oschersleben and the first event of the IDM season. In the first race we were able to limit the damage with the tyre poker. In the second race we saw what was possible. We were able to win quite easily. In general, I am satisfied with everything. There were few falls. Pepijn, Jan and Tim did their job well and in the end I am going home happy.”