Ilya Mikhalchik: strong competitor for IDM newcomer Jonas Folger
On the first two event days of the IDM season opener at the TT Circuit in Assen, the sun did not show itself often. On Sunday, however, it was a different story. After a difficult warm-up for the EGS-alpha-Van Zon-BMW team, the first two races of the IDM SBK 1000 class, for which everyone has been waiting for so long, took place. The high humidity made it hard throughout the weekend, but the weather gods have been gracious and have largely left out the popular rain and thunderstorms.
The reigning German champion, Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR) and IDM newcomer Vladimir Leonov (RUS) have given the EGS-alpha-Van Zon-BMW team a few good championship points in Assen. Even if Leonov was not a lucky one in race one and had to return to the pits without points.
In Qualifying on Saturday only the IDM newcomer and ex-MotoGP rider Jonas Folger (TEAM Bonovo Action by MGM Racing) was able to prevail against the team’s regular rider, Ilya Mikhalchik, and so the Ukrainian started from position two into race one. Vladimir Loenov led the second row on the grid in fifth place. Unfortunately, he had to end his hunt for the podium, just behind Florian Alt (TEAM Wilbers-BMW-Racing), on lap nine of 13 with technical problems. Due to the failure of the starting lights, the start of the first race was delayed by 45 minutes and the race itself was shortened to 13 laps.
Mikhalchik finished second, securing the EGS-alpha-Van Zon-BMW Team the first podium of the 2020 season, which has been shortened to four events.
With a little delay, the afternoon started with the reverse grid for race two. Ilya Mikhalchik hunted into the race from eighth position, Vladimir Leonov from position eleven. Jonas Folger, who started one position behind Mikhalchik, already led the field in the second corner. Mikhalchik was able to establish himself just under two seconds behind the Bavarian. The Ukrainian stayed there for the entire 15 laps and rode a rather lonely race in which he gave the EGS-alpha-Van Zon-BMW team further important points with a second place and podium finish.
Vladimir Leonov had a bitter fight for the third and final podium place with Dominic Schmitter (TEAM HESS Racing) and Florian Alt. Leonov lost the fight against both in round nine. After Schmitter’s retirement two laps later, Alessandro Polita (TEAM Holzhauer Racing Promotion) also passed the Russian and Leonov crossed the finish line in fifth. Even if it was not an easy weekend for the new addition to the team, he said he enjoyed it and feels very welcome in the Belgian team around team manager Werner Daemen.
The next IDM mission will go underway on September 7th and 8th (on a Monday and Tuesday) at the Sachsenring circuit in Germany. More information to follow!
Ilya Mikhalchik, # 1:
“I couldn’t win this weekend, but it was still a good step for myself. It was good to see that someone can be faster than me. I can grow from that. I am happy with the two second places. These are not the full points for the championship, but they are very important points. I was very happy that I was able to break away from third place and my pursuers and stayed so close to Jonas. That means that we are both riding at a very high level. That motivates me and gives me the necessary incentive to try again at the next race.„
Vladimir Leonov, # 65:
“It wasn’t a particularly easy weekend for me. I know I can be up there, I had the pace, but we had a few problems setting the bike up for me and that kept me from being in the front. I still have to build confidence with the bike. Still, I’m very happy with the really good job my team has done for me. They all worked very hard and even if I’m obviously not happy with the results, the first weekend in the new team was fun.„
Werner Daemen, Team Manager:
“It was a good season opener here in Assen. Unfortunately Vladimir was not so lucky. There would have been podium places in both races, he had what it takes. In the first race he had to retire due to a technical problem and in the second race he made a small mistake on the brakes. It can happen, but it’s annoying for him. Ilya showed once more how strong he is. He could stay with Folger. The gap to the chasing group was very big, especially in the second race with almost 20 seconds. I think it will be very exciting, because at the Lausitzring or the Hockenheimring, I am convinced that Ilya can win.”