The long wait finally came to an end last weekend. At the Sachsenring, where in four weeks Marquez and Co. will be meeting again at the German Grand Prix, the riders of the International German Motorcycle Championship started their 2023 season. The German-Belgian team BCC-alpha-Van Zon-BMW of Andy Gerlich and Werner Daemen also started in the IDM Superbike. All five riders of the BMW M1000RR were well prepared for the new points chase. With Ilya Mikhalchik from the Ukraine, Kamil Krzemien from Poland, Bálint Kovács from Hungary, Philipp Steinmayr from Austria and Max Schmidt from Germany, the championship team was represented in full team strength at the Sachsenring.
Ilya Mikhalchik had swapped his tried and tested starting number 37 for 17. “I have become a different Ilya,” said the Ukrainian, who is currently living in Poland with his girlfriend, describing his personal transformation. “The 17 is my birthday. The other things are all in the past.” Also in the past are his memories of the Sachsenring in 2020, where he had fought a brave duel with eventual champion Jonas Folger, but in some pain after a crash. Nevertheless, the uphill and downhill track will not be a favorite for the three-time IDM champion. Even his starting position 3 on the front row was certainly not to the taste of the IDM returnee.
But Mikhalchik is not exactly known for letting such things upset him. So he made a perfect start in the first race, set a brisk pace, chose the way around the outside and took the lead of the field as soon as he turned into the first corner. Even though his pursuers were pushing hard, the Ukrainian was able to increase his lead to more than three seconds in the last laps. Start-finish victory was the perfect result in the end. “It was a really nice race,” Mikhalchik said afterwards. “In qualifying I didn’t put down my fastest lap and focused on my race pace. In the race I felt the pressure from behind and focused mainly on the last laps and just did my job.” The BMW rider would have been only too happy to do his job in the second race as well. Due to the reverse grid used in the IDM, Mikhalchik had to start from 9th place. In order to keep his chances of a podium, he again looked for the way via the outside lane after a good start. But his courage was not rewarded. He slid out of the race over the front wheel into the gravel – his race was over before it had really started. The goal of winning his fourth championship title remains. Now as the hunter and not the hunted.
After a successful 2022 season, which he crowned with his first IDM podium at the finale in Hockenheim, Kamil Krzemien had travelled to the Sachsenring with subdued expectations. The young Pole didn’t have a completely smooth practice day and wasn’t shy about explaining his 22nd place on the grid: “I’d never ridden at the Sachsenring before the free practice on Friday. The track is not easy to learn. It goes round to the left for ages, plus there are lots of blind corners. It’s also a pity that I lost the third practice due to the rain. But I have to check my data, because the gap to the front is too big for me.”
The BMW driver pored over his notes with the technicians accordingly and with two tenth places on Sunday his efforts were rewarded. Even if Krzemien’s hunger for points was not really satisfied. “After the starting position, I knew it wasn’t going to be my best placing. I didn’t have a master plan beforehand. Having fun and getting points was the order of the day – and that worked out. It was clear to us beforehand that it wouldn’t exactly be my best weekend on the track, which was unfamiliar to me.” After the two races, Krzemien headed straight to Oschersleben. There, the Pole was booked for private coaching. Also in his luggage was his private test motorbike. “If the weather is suitable, I’ll ride a few more laps at the end of the week in preparation for the next IDM round.” The weather forecast for the area around Oschersleben currently looks good.
Bálint Kovács is one of the newcomers to the team that won Markus Reiterberger’s fourth IDM Superbike title last year. “The last time I was here on the track was seven years ago with a 300cc bike,” he recalls. “With a superbike, it’s a whole different ball game now. Although I have to admit that stop-and-go tracks suit me more.”
You didn’t notice much of that in the two races, the first of which Kovács started from 11th on the grid. In the end, the junior driver shone with places 6 and 7 at the finish. “If someone had told me this beforehand,” said a Hungarian surprised by himself, “I wouldn’t have believed it. But I am happy, and the races were really fun. I was able to make more meters at the Sachsenring and I also understand the bike better and that’s where it got easier for me.” In the races he had to deal mainly with his teammates Max Schmidt and Philipp Steinmayr in the fight for the coveted points. “That worked out well,” assures Kovács, “in the pits it’s right between us and on the track, of course, everyone tries to do their own thing. But it was fair at all times.” Before the next race at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben, the Hungarian’s journey continues to the Slovakiaring, where he has registered to take part in the Alpe Adria Championship.
Philipp Steinmayr did not celebrate his Superbike premiere at the Sachsenring, but the Austrian was on the grid for the first time on a BMW in Germany’s highest motorbike sport predicate. After keeping a clean slate on Friday, he briefly rumbled through the gravel in the opening phase of the first qualifying session but survived the unscheduled excursion unscathed. In the end, he made it into the top ten and secured 9th place on the grid. “My start was not exhilarating twice,” he admitted after finishing 7th and 8th in the races. “Unfortunately. That was down to me, I just have to get more feeling there. But I still got away quite well.” In the race he had to deal mainly with team-mate Bálint Kovács. “He drove well,” said the Austrian, “he held me up a bit, but I just couldn’t get past. He covered the last lap really well.”
Steinmayr said that the entry into the second race and also the first laps went well. “Then when Vladimir Leonov crashed right in front of me,” he described, “it slowed me down a bit because I didn’t know where he was going to crash now and he was rolling around on the track. That’s when I lost time. Then the problems with the front wheel started for me a bit. It was pushing over quite a bit and it wasn’t easy to ride.” In the end, Steinmayr still had to admit defeat to his teammates Kovács and Max Schmidt. “Of course it was disappointing for me,” he admits, “to be pushed through at the end. Fifth place would have been possible. But it was still a great weekend. The bike is fun, the team works perfectly. It’s good fun. Next time it will be better. The track was new here and I don’t know the bike very well yet. I hope to make another step in Oschersleben.”
Max Schmidt, also new to the team and new to BMW, is the youngster of the squad at 20 years old, but that didn’t stop him from setting brisk lap times. “I was here six years ago with the ADAC Junior Cup,” he recalls. “You could brake hard with the bike back then, too, but the acceleration with a superbike is a hell of a difference. Since it’s almost always left-handed here, it’s not so easy to find a good set-up. You definitely have to keep a close eye on tyre management.” Schmidt then convinced with 10th place on the grid.
After 8th place in the first race, Schmidt offered an extremely appealing performance, especially in the final phase of the second race, and deserved to be celebrated for 5th place. “I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the first race,” he admitted afterwards. The reason: his teammates Bálint Kovács and Philipp Steinmayr had finished ahead of the Wuppertal native. “I was only one or two tenths slower. If I had been there from the beginning, I could have fought with them.” Thanks to 8th place, Schmidt was then allowed to start from 5th place in the second race because of the reverse grid. “The place didn’t really do me much good, though,” he describes, “I lost quite a lot. Then there was a group of three in front of me and the gap stayed the same. But I quickly noticed that things were going well for me, the tyre wasn’t degrading so much and I could work well with the electronics. On the exit of the corner, I had good speed and on the brakes, I’m doing well anyway.” When Schmidt was on the group, he braked his way past in turn 1. A counterattack by the competition with his teammates Bálint Kovács and Philipp Steinmayr failed to materialise. “On the last lap Toni Finsterbusch had problems shifting in front of me and was an easy victim,” Schmidt said. “I was really happy with 5th place, Werner was also quite happy with the performance I think.”
The second event of IDM 2023 continues on the first weekend in June. The BCC-alpha-Van Zon-BMW team will travel to Oschersleben.
IDM Superbike Q1 + Q2
1. 1:23,175 min Florian Alt (Honda)
2. 1:23,801 min Hannes Soomer (Honda)
3. 1:23,911 min Ilya Mikhalchik (BMW)
9. 1:24,859 min Philipp Steinmayr (BMW)
10. 1:24,901 min Max Schmidt (BMW)
11. 1:25,025 min Balint Kovacs (BMW)
22. 1:27,301 min Kamil Krzemien (BMW)
IDM Superbike Ergebnis Rennen 1
1. Ilya Mikhalchik (BMW)
2. Florian Alt (Honda)
3. Hannes Soomer (Honda)
6. Balint Kovacs (BMW)
7. Philipp Steinmayr (BMW)
8. Max Schmidt (BMW)
10. Kamil Krzemien (BMW)
IDM Superbike Ergebnis Rennen 2
1. Florian Alt (Honda)
2. Patrick Hobelsberger (BMW)
3. Hannes Soomer (Honda)
5. Max Schmidt (BMW)
7. Balint Kovacs (BMW)
8. Philipp Steinmayr (BMW)
10. Kamil Krzemien (BMW)
DNF Ilya Mikhalchik (BMW)
IDM Superbike Punktestand nach 2 von 14 Rennen
1. 45 Punkte Florian Alt (Honda)
2. 33 Punkte Patrick Hobelsberger (BMW)
3. 32 Punkte Hannes Soomer (Honda)
4. 25 Punkte Ilya Mikhalchik (BMW)
6. 19 Punkte Max Schmidt (BMW)
7. 19 Punkte Balint Kovacs (BMW)
8. 17 Punkte Philipp Steinmayr (BMW)
10. 12 Punkte Kamil Krzemien (BMW)