Last weekends race at Circuit Zolder was part of the International German Motorcycle Championship calendar 2018. For team alpha Racing-Van Zon-BMW, it is one of the highlights of the season and the chance to win in front of the local fans. With Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR) and Julian Puffe (D), the team sent two podium candidates into the Superbike class. On the other hand, Christop Höfer was condemned to watch, while he is still curing his shoulder injury.
Ilya Mikhalchik came to Zolder after his double victory in Oschersleben as the leader of the Superbike classification. With high expectations on the victory, because the Ukranian already familiarised with the track on a test day a few weeks ago. On IDM Saturday Mikhalchik wanted to conquer his third pole position in the third IDM race. His plan worked out. In both qualifying sessions, the BMW Motorrad rider already set the fastest time in the third lap and then crashed into the gravel one lap later, trying to beat his own best mark. Fortunately, his lap time remained untouched until the end of the session.Mikhalchik himself remained uninjured after his crashes, but his BMW S 1000 RR needed a pit stop. With his data recording engineer, the Ukrainian made another lap around the four-kilometer course on the eve of the race by bicycle. He stopped at the crash site to discuss the last details for the upcoming races.
After the start of the first race, BMW competitor Bastien Mackels (Wilbers-BMW-Racing) took over the leading work and did it until the final stage. In the last corner of the last lap, the Ukrainian, who had always followed the Belgian in the slipstream, set the decisive braking maneuver and crossed the finish line as winner with just a blink of an eye advantage of Mackels. “First of all, I have to thank my team,” said Mikhalchik at the award ceremony. “After the crashes, they gave me a bike, which was like new. In the race I had Bastien in front of me and stayed calm, because it was a physically challenge, too. I did not ride too many laps here in Zolder, so I did not know exactly where I had to push, and where I could take a deep breath to relax a little. In the end it was close, but I was the first over the finish line. »
The start of the second race went well. But after the first lap, the Ukrainian came back only in seventh place. Since then, the winner Bastien Mackels had already driven at the top of it. “Ilya had first suspected that his teammate Julian Puffe had touched him in the first corner of the race,” reports team boss Werner Daemen. “But it was Jan Halbich (Honda), who sent our rider out of the first corner.” Mikhalchik rejoined the race and then caught up to the race from far behind, but was again forced to ride into the gravel bed due to another collision. He wanted to pass Pepijn Bijsterbosch, but the Dutch rider pushed him out, too. Then Ilya really rode with brains. “Two competitors directly in front of him, including Bijsterbosch, crashed in the final meters of the race. For Mikhalchik it was a fourth position result in the end and he secured the overall lead in the IDM Superbike class.
Before leaving for Zolder, Julian Puffe had been warming up with a bicycle race in his hometown of Schleiz, where the IDM circus will come up in late July. “For me, Zolder is like a second home race and there is a bit more excitement than usual,” revealed the German. “Besides, I really like the track in Zolder. It’s a great diversity from where we usually ride.”
He used his local track knowledge, which he had already acquired in Zolder in a successful test in advance, in the first practice sessions and qualified at the end of the day with the third fastest time on a grid in the front row. “It went really well in the first qualifying,” he later reported. “I was able to ride a deep 1:32 right away. I had the feeling that I could improve a little bit more, so that it could even reach the pole position. But I missed a tick at the end. In the second qualifying, it was difficult to make a faster laptime due to the risen temperatures. But I’m part of the leading pack and want to continue improving in the race. ”
Said and done. A 3rd place finish was the reward. “It all worked out. Even physically, all went well until the end. I was able to keep up with Mackels and Mikhalchik at the top for the first few laps, but I could not keep up the pace.” But there was no real danger from his persuers so that he could finish his race quite calmly. “I had a few minor problems with the front of my BMW,but we’ll get that for the second race.”
“I never had a better bike during the whole weekend, than in the second race “, was the announcement after the second race, in which Puffe had to work hard to finish fifth. “In the first corner Jan Halbich touched Mikhalchik and both riders were suddenly right in my way. There was only one way out – the gravel bed at the end of the pit lane. From there, I resumed the race and was really far behind.” He overtook the first competitors already the first lap and bit by bit he was back at the top ten. «After the small grip problem in the morning we had really brought the bike setup to the point. I was able to ride my best lap times in the end. In the last lap, I was catching up to Ilya fastly, but I did not want to start a risky braking maneuver in the last corner. So I tried to catch him with acceleration. Unfortunately I missed him by 0.007 seconds. It was a real photo finish.“
Christof Höfer had broken his shoulder blade in a crash during the World Endurance Championship event in Oschersleben. Together with team boss Werner Daemen, he decided to cure the injury properly. Höfer did not miss the show of his two teammates and their competitors and watched the races with a heavy heart from the pit wall.
In three weeks, it continues with the home race for Julian Puffe. The IDM Championship meets on the Schleizer triangle to Superbike round No. 4.
1 1.32,106 Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR/BMW)
2 1.32,147 Bastien Mackels (BEL/BMW)
3 1.32,314 Julian Puffe (GER/BMW)
Result Race 1
1 Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR/BMW)
2 Bastien Mackels (BEL/BMW)
3 Julian Puffe (GER/BMW)
Result Race 2
1 Bastien Mackels (B/BMW)
2 Stefan Kerschbaumer (A/Yamaha)
3 Daniel Kartheininger (D/Yamaha)
4 Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR/BMW)
5 Julian Puffe (D/BMW)
Championship standings after 6 of 14 races
1 133 points Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR/BMW)
2 126 points Bastien Mackels (BEL/BMW)
3 82 points JulianPuffe (GER/BMW)