You’d like to write “the weekend at the Sachsenring”, but wait a minute – the second round of the 2020 IDM season, which was shortened to four events, didn’t even take place on a weekend … The International German Championship took place, on a Monday and Tuesday, which is very unusual, at the legendary race track in Saxony. But since no spectators were allowed and the event took place in the so-called “IDM bubble”, it was not a problem.
It cannot be said that Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR), Tim Eby (GER), or Vladimir Leonov (RUS) could have developed boredom on the practice-Monday. After two free practice sessions in the morning, the two qualifying sessions took place in the afternoon. EGS-alpha-Van Zon-BMW newcomer Vladimir Leonov was able to qualify for second place on the grid, directly behind Sachsenring ace and ex-MotoGP rider Jonas Folger (Bonovo Action by MGM Racing). The two-time German champion Ilya Mikhalchik had to settle with sixth starting place after his dominance in the series last year and admits that the track is not that easy to learn. Nevertheless, the 24-year-old had a lot of fun and enjoys the fact that he has to face strong competitors this season. Back in the team is Tim Eby, who had to sit out at the first round on the TT Circuit in Assen after an injury in the preseason and was only there as spectator. Eby qualified in 23rd starting position.
The warm-up on Tuesday morning took place at 8:30 a.m., so the conditions were correspondingly cool. The EGS-alpha-Van Zon-BMW team riders started race one at 12:00 o’clock under significantly more summery conditions. After only two laps, however, the race had to be stopped by the red flag, as SBK 1000 – competitor Philipp Gengelbach (TEAM Gengelbach Motorsport HSR Racing Team) crashed and his Suzuki caught fire. The restarted race then had only 14 laps, which were probably the most eventful for Vladimir Leonov. He rode a tough fight with Dominic Schmitter (TEAM HESS Racing) and Florian Alt (TEAM Wilbers-BMW-Racing) for the third and thus last podium place, but in the end came out very narrowly empty with fourth place. Unfortunately, Ilya Mikhalchik wasn’t so lucky in the first race today. In the course of the race he managed to get close to the group that was battling for third position and seemed to have a good chance of a podium finish when he had technical problems with his BMW S 1000 RR and fell back onto ninth position. The Ukrainian was able to save ninth place to the finish. Tim Eby did well in his first race of the 2020 season. Even if it was a lonely race, he was able to make up three positions after the start and crossed the finish line in twentieth.
The second Superbike 1000 race took place in the afternoon at 3:30 p.m. Vladimir Leonov started this from pole position through the reverse grid and got off well at the start. Ilya Mikhalchik started again from position six and Tim Eby from position 23. Despite being ninth on the grid, the German Sachsenring expert Jonas Folger was already in the lead in the second corner. On lap three, Mikhalchik and Leonov were in positions two and three. A wild swap of positions and a fight for the two remaining podium places took place between Leonov, Mikhalchik, Dominic Schmitter, Florian Alt and Marc Moser (TEAM Bonovo Action by MGM Racing). The positions were swapped back and forth over the 18 race laps. In the end it was Ilya Mikhalchik (P2) and Vladimir Leonov (P3) who emerged victorious from this fight. Tim Eby was able to gain important experience this week. He finished the second race in 21st position. For Eby these two days of action were confirmation that he had coped well with his injury and that he will be able to fight back again at the Lausitzring next weekend.
Those were two difficult IDM days at the Sachsenring for the EGS-alpha-Van Zon-BMW team. But the hard work of these two days has paid off and the team can take two trophies with them to the Lausitzring, where the championship will continue in just two days, from September 11th to 13th.
Ilya Mikhalchik # 1:
“Those were not easy IDM days for me. At first I struggled with the new racetrack. The motorcycle and I have never been here before. The course is not really suitable for riding fast, you need a really good line to be fast here. We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare. After the practice sessions, the qualifying came straight away. Therefore it was not so easy to find a good set up. So I’m all the happier that we finished on the podium in race two. In the first race I had a few technical problems. But that’s racing. You can do nothing about it. I now hope that I have a little more luck in both races at the Lausitzring and that I can fight for the podium again.„
Tim Eby # 17:
“I’m pretty happy that everything went so well and that I had so few problems with my hand from the first practice session. I was able to keep up well. I also prepared really good for this week so I am physically fit. Qualifying went pretty well for me. I was able to improve again in the race. The two days at the Sachsenring were a lot of fun for me and I can take away a lot of positive things for myself. I’m looking forward to the Lausitzring and hope to be able to ride there faster next weekend than at the test before the start of the season.„
Vladimir Leonov # 65:
“That was a really difficult weekend for us. I’ve ridden the track before, but that was ten years ago and it was at the beginning of my career and nothing is like it was back then! The route is very different. I remember very little about it. So the practice went really well and I was able to hold onto the first positions. We made some good adjustments to the bike and improved the set-up. In the first race, I unfortunately just missed out on the podium. The only important thing then was that I finish the race and that we focus on the second race. It wasn’t easy for me in the second race either. We were all on a similar level and that put me under a lot of pressure. I then waited for the last few laps and just tried to open the throttle a little more. In the last two laps I was able to crank it up a bit and finally made it onto the podium. I thank my team for their hard work this week. We worked really well together, also with Ilya, and we helped each other a lot. We can achieve a lot in this way. I am very happy.“
Werner Daemen, Team Manager:
“I’m really satisfied with the performance of the riders. It wasn’t an easy event for us here at the Sachsenring. This racetrack was uncharted territory for two of our three riders. Vladimir and Ilya rode really well, especially today. I’m also happy that Tim is back after his injury and that he was able to build on his results in the preseason tests with a really good performance. I have to admit that Jonas was simply unbeatable. He rode two really strong races here today and with this background I have to say that second and third place feel more like a win.„