Last weekend the final races of the International German Superbike Champion took place at the Hockenheimring in Germany. Ilya Mikhalchik from Ukraine and Julian Puffe from Germany competed for team alpha Racing-Van Zon-BMW in the IDM Superbike class. It was the most challenging weekend of the year for the squad around team boss Werner Daemen. Parallel to the IDM title race for Ilya Mikhalchik, the team fought for the FIM Superstock 1000 European Championship with Markus Reiterberger in Magny-Cours (France).
Ilya Mikhalchik came with a 31 points lead to Hockenheim. “Even with such a big lead, you can not afford to make any mistake,” said the team boss in advance. “The title will not be awarded until the final checkered flag falls.” But the Ukrainian didn´t let himself be disturbed by anything. “Title, points,” he pointed out on the way to qualifying, “I do not think about that now. I am here to do a good job. As always. I have not been in Hockenheim for a long time. But I immediately recognized the track. It looks easy from the outside, but it takes a few laps to be really fast at certain points. That’s what makes this track so special.»
The learning went fast with the BMW rider as always. In all timed sessions, he was dominant and was allowed to tackle the last two races of the season with a margin of 0.277 seconds from pole position. In the first race, he finished with cool calculation and a minimum of risk in second position and achieved the championship title in his debut year in the prenultimate race. It was the second time that team alpha Racing-Van Zon-BMW took the IDM crown in a row after 2012 and 2013 with Erwan Nigon and Markus Reiterberger. And previous year´s IDM winner Markus Reiterberger crossed the finish line in almost the same moment as Ilya, to become the FIM Superstock 1000 European Champion in Magny Cours. No team ever achieved a double championship title in an international race series before. And sure not on the same day and almost the same minute. It can not go any better.
“Can I have such a T-shirt?” That was the first question of the new IDM champion after the race. His team had taken over the celebration dress and cheered their IDM hero. “I have to thank my team,” was the first thing Mikhalchik said at the awards ceremony, “I have never met such a great team in my life. Thanks also to Bastien Mackels, we had a great and fair fights over the whole season, and my appreciation also goes out to all the fans who always come to the races. »
Fort he second race, Ilya again attacked like he used to. In the ninth lap, he had grabbed the first position and no longer gave it away to the finish. And then, the restrained Ukrainian started to rave even more. “It would not have been possible without my team. And thanks to my fans, especially from Ukraine who took a long trip to support me during the season. I hope we all meet again next year.”
Julian Puffe was in the fix third overall position fort he Championship even before the last IDM round in Hockenheim. But that was not enough for the young German. His goal for the 2018 season had not yet been achieved. “I want to win a race in the IDM Superbike. Of course, in the spirit of the team, the title of Ilya has absolute priority and I will support the strategy.»
On the grid Puffe appeared in third position. In the final training he had taken the too high risk and crashed at high speed. He did not hurt himself in the accident, but his mechanics had plenty of work to do to get the BMW S1000RR up and running again. Including a few nightly overtime hours.
After the first run, the German wasn´t satisfied with his performance. He suffered a bad start into the race. “I passed Florian Alt on the third position and wanted to get away from him because I had a faster pace. In the end, I made a braking mistake and everyone cut me again.” Things looked completely different after the second race and the BMW rider could grin all over his face again. In a hot fight over the finish line he had defeated Florian Alt and rewarded himself and his team with the third position. “I slowed him down in the Sax-Corner,” he said. “Already in the three laps before we had some overtaking maneuvers and in the end I was just a bit later on the brakes. It was important to be on the podium for the whole team. I really have a great team. Overnight, they built a new bike for me after my crash in qualifying.»
Christof Höfer was only allowed to watch at the races in Hockenheim from the grandstand. After a shoulder injury, the IDM newcomer had to end the 2018 season prematurely.
In the coming days, a visit to the Cologne motorcycle fair Intermot will be on the agenda for team boss Werner Daemen, where important steps will be taken for the future. After that the whole team will begin to work on their 2019 plans.
Since the first title in 2012, the alpha racing van Zon BMW team around Werner Daemen now celebrates seven international championship successes.
Result Qualifying/Starting Grid
1 1.26,632 Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR/BMW)
2 1.26,909 Bastien Mackels (B/BMW)
3 1.26,993 Julian Puffe (GER/BMW)
Result Race 1
1 Bastien Mackels (B/BMW)
2 Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR/BMW)
3 Florian Alt (GER/Yamaha)
6 Julian Puffe (GER/BMW)
Result Race 2
1 Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR/BMW)
2 Bastien Mackels (B/BMW)
3 Julian Puffe (GER/BMW)
Final Championship standing after 14 of 14 races
1 314 points Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR/BMW)
2 283 points Bastien Mackels (B/BMW)
3 203 points JulianPuffe (GER/BMW)