The journey of the International German Superbike Championship (IDM) led the team alpha Racing-Van Zon-BMW to Eurospeedway Lausitzring. The first familiar terrain for all three riders for the fifth of a total of seven race weekends with two Superbike runs each. Ilya Mikhalchik from Ukraine came to the german track as the leader of the championship, Julian Puffe traveled to southern Brandenburg to keep up his ambitous performance and Christof Höfer was back on his BMW S 1000 RR after his injury break.
Ilya Mikhalchik had taken a little break after his double victory at the last IDM race and traveled with great expectations to Lausitzring. “The first track in this year’s calendar that I know well,” said the Ukrainian, who had been successful in the Superstock European Championship for a long time before taking part in the IDM 2018, “and one of my favorite IDM circuits. It is a bit wavy. But there are fast and slow corners, just a lot of different passages, which suits my personal riding style. “Mikhalchik did not want to think about the possible title despite his 17-point lead before the race. “I just want to do my job,” he said clearly. The weekend began with solid free practices but a short break during the first timed qulifying on Saturday morning. The track was still wet for the most part and for the afternoon there was dry and thus more comfortable weather announced.
Already in his second qualifying lap, the BMW rider set the fastest laptime of the field and should not give up the first place until the end of the session. With only a few more minutes to go, he decided to go for another shot and again undercut his best laptime with a lead of neat 0.623 seconds ahead of his competitors on the pole position. In the first race, Mikhalchik did most of the leading kilometers but had to keep his rear tire tidy to keep Julian Puffe and brand colleague Bastien Mackels at bay. In the end, he fought his pursuers with blunt weapons and had to watch how Mackels and Puffe fought for the victory among themselves. For Mikhalchik it remained only the third place. In Werner Daemen´s team the principle of free choice of tires prevails and Mikhalchiks crew had decided for the soft mixture. “And this choice was wrong,” the team boss clarifies. “From my experience it was not the correct decision. But free choice is free choice. That can happen, but it should not.»
In the second race, things went smoothly and Mikhalchik did not give a chance to the opponents. A clear start-finish domination by the Ukrainian scoring the maximum of 25 championship points. “That was a very good performance,” praises Daemen. “His lap times are faster and faster.” Mikhalchik had plenty of company for the victory-party. His parents and brother had traveled to Lausitzring and were aside to watch how he successfully defended his lead in the IDM Superbike.
Julian Puffe did a brilliant performance at his home race in Schleiz with pole position and two third position race results, but also wanted to attack at Lausitzring. “I want to continue fighting for the vicory”, so his clear message. “I already knew the track because of my time in the Superstock European Championship. We did not have the luxury of knowing the track very well on the previous circuits. Certainly the surface at Lausitzring is rather wavy and it reminds more of Road Racing. But everyone has to cope with the same track conditions. I’m not so sensitive and I like the track. ”
What had not really worked out in Schleiz for Puffe was his racestart. “We have some ideas on how we can improve that,” he revealed before the first practice session. “I am in constant contact with my data recording specialist Jens Schulze and we have solutions in our luggage. In any case, in addition to the work on the chassis we also practice a lot of starts.» Puffe showed great performance during the only dry qualifying session and ranked the third starting position. Nevertheless, the BMW rider was not completely happy with the position in the first row. “The gap to my teammate is too big with 0.9 seconds,” he admitted openly. “The rain in the morning and the strong wind in the afternoon were difficult conditions. But we got my starting problem under control.»
The German proved that in the first race and was member oft he leading squad from the first lap. In the closing stages of the race, he was even allowed to breathe leadership air and was as close to a victory as never before. But in the infield, rival Bastien Mackels took over the lead and Puffe finished in second position. “I was faster than in qualifying,” said a delighted Julian Puffe. “I was even better on the brakes than Mackels. In the penultimate lap I wanted to pass again, but I made a huge mistake. Also in the last lap I tried to pass him again. After all, I achieved my best result of the season so far.» In the second race, Puffe finished in third place. “I was even faster than in the first race,” said the BMW rider. “But the other two guys had something on top of it, too. I lost time in the 180 degree left turn. But in all other sectors I could hold on to Bastien Mackels and Ilya Mikhalchik. I still have four chances to achieve my first victory.”
Christof Höfer due to his shoulder injury he had to renounce the races in Zolder and Schleiz. Since then his daily routine consists of doctor visits and appointments with the physiotherapist as well as osteopathy and fascia training. “My shoulder is doing great,” he announced before the race at Lausitzring. “Unfortunately, the numbness in my hand still causes problems for me. I’ve spent a lot of time as an instructor in recent weeks to adapt to riding a bike. But as soon as pressure comes on the shoulder, it starts getting difficult with the nerves in the fingers.” The training on Saturday was not really easy for him. Wet track in the morning and finger problems in the afternoon resulted in grid position 21. “Three fingers still do not work properly,” he says. “That way, I can not get in any rhythm and have trouble getting my laps together.”
Although it was only 21st in the first race, Höfer had gritted his teeth and bravely finished his race. But the effort was just too much and the hand definitely didn’t make it for a second race. Therefore Höfer renounced in the afternoon with a heavy heart for a start. “This injury spoils my whole season,” he sighed. “I’m really disappointed. I tried, but my fingers are getting numb.”
The team alpha Racing-Van Zon-BMW does not have much time to rest – in two weeks it will be time again for the next IDM race. Destination of the trip is the Dutch TT Circuit in Assen.
Result Qualifying/Starting grid
1 1.38,519 Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR/BMW)
2 1.39,142 Bastien Mackels (B/BMW)
3 1.39,439 Julian Puffe (D/BMW)
21 1.43,754 Christof Höfer (D/BMW)
Result Race 1
1 Bastien Mackels (B/BMW)
2 Julian Puffe (D/BMW)
3 Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR/BMW)
21 Christof Höfer (D/BMW)
Result Race 2
1 Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR/BMW)
2 Bastien Mackels (B/BMW)
3 Julian Puffe (D/BMW)
DNS Christof Höfer
Championship standings after 10 of 14 races
1 224 points Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR/BMW)
2 211 points Bastien Mackels (B/BMW)
3 150 points JulianPuffe (D/BMW)
24 3 points Christof Höfer (D/BMW)