Perfect conditions were offered to the riders and fans of the International German Motorcycle Championship IDM last weekend when the second round of the 2023 season started at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben. On top of that, there was sunshine and a cloudless sky as well as exciting races and numerous spectators at the track. In the middle of it all was the top team BCC-alpha-Van Zon-BMW, led by Andy Gerlich and Werner Daemen, with its drivers Ilya Mikhalchik (Ukraine), Kamil Krzemien (Poland), Bálint Kovács (Hungary), Philipp Steinmayr (Austria) and Max Schmidt (Germany).
Ilya Mikhalchik knew even before the two races at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben that he would have to work hard to keep Florian Alt, his toughest rival in the fight for the title, at bay. In practice, he took second place on the grid with his personal best time of 1:24.969 min, and the BMW rider finished the warm-up on Sunday morning in first place. But all the effort was not to pay off at the end of the day.
The first shock came for Mikhalchik’s team on the warm-up lap before the start. The BMW rider was thrown off his bike in a highsider at half speed – it was impossible to look that fast. The rider went into the gravel in a high arc. While Mikhalchik luckily escaped with bruises, his bike was badly hit. Then it was time to get back to work in the pits. A quick look at the data revealed no fault. Neither with the rider, who was riding with just ten percent lean angle and adapted speed, nor with the check of the gear box or the gear shifting. Everyone had to pitch in to rebuild the BMW. At the last minute, Mikhalchik was able to roll onto the grid.
As he lacked the experience from the first race and had to start the race from 10th place, he first got an overview in the first laps. Gradually, he increased his speed and made his way to the leading group. In the last few metres, bad luck caught up with him in the fight for third place. He quickly got back on the bike and managed to save five championship points with 11th place. Mikhalchik’s disappointment about the weekend was written all over his face.
Bálint Kovács had to get used to his IDM-BMW again. Since his successful IDM debut at the Sachsenring, the Hungarian had competed in the Alpe Adria Superbike Championship at the Slovakiaring and brought home the trophies for a victory and a second place.
While the two qualifying sessions in Oschersleben, which ultimately resulted in 12th place on the grid, were a little tough, things went all the better in the two races. “Yes, that’s right,” he admitted, “qualifying wasn’t so perfect. I just needed time to adjust to the BMW. But I knew the track beforehand. In the first race I was able to push well. Eighth place and the reverse grid made the second race a little easier at the beginning. But over the distance it was harder than in the morning because it was a lot warmer. But I was happy with sixth place. In terms of the result, it was similar to Sachsenring but in Oschersleben I was only nine seconds off the winner. So it was definitely an improvement.”
By the way, the Hungarian had turned out to be the most diligent points collector in the BCC-alpha-Van Zon-BMW team and can be happy about a respectable fifth place in the current overall standings.
Max Schmidt, new to the team this year and new to the BMW M 1000 RR, had already shone with top results at the season opener. The 20-year-old had taken a liking to the fast pace and his new bike, so he wanted to show right away at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben that his successful start was no flash in the pan. After qualifying, he was pleased with his ninth-fastest time and his place on the third row of the grid. “Everything had worked out well and I was very satisfied,” Schmidt summed up Saturday. “One place better than at the opener.”
In the races, the tough stuff was unpacked again. “Things didn’t go quite as I would have liked,” explained the BMW rider, who finished 10th and ninth. “I was really put through the wringer both times after the start. I then tried aggressively to make up for the loss. In the process, I made a mistake or two and had to go through the grass once. But I was able to make up for it and attack at the end.” Among other things with a hard manoeuvre against team colleague Philipp Steinmayr. “I don’t think he liked that,” said Schmidt, “but we were able to shake hands afterwards. The second race was good at the beginning, but then the tyres degraded abruptly, it was also definitely the hottest day. The race was exhausting. I worked more against the bike than with it. I’m not as happy as I was at Sachsenring, but I’m already satisfied with 9th place.”
Philipp Steinmayr did respectably, although he would have liked to finish a bit further in front. In the two qualifying sessions, the Austrian was quick on his feet and took 10th place on the grid. “But unfortunately, the first race wasn’t quite so great,” he reported after finishing 11th. “At the beginning, I had a good start and a very good first lap. I also felt good and was able to make up one or two positions straight away. But then I couldn’t quite keep up with the speed of the guys in front. I couldn’t use the new tyres properly and did my fastest laps towards the end of the race. Compared to practice, it was brutally warm and the grip was a bit worse as a result.”
“Since I felt like I was riding against a wall,” he describes his motorbike riding feelings, “we then changed the set-up a bit for the second race. That was quite good.” He finished eighth after a good start. “Again, I couldn’t take advantage of the new tyres. But I’m fine with the results. I had two good starts and that’s really an achievement. It’s just a shame when you get bumped down a bit afterwards. But I made progress at the start.”
After crossing the finish line and a quick interview, Steinmayr headed back to his Austrian home. Eight hours of driving still awaited him there. At 7 a.m. on Monday, the BMW driver had to be back in his company.
Kamil Krzemien had to pull his hair out a little after the two qualifying sessions. Because with 17th place on the grid, the ambition of the young Pole, who after all had finished the 2023 finale on the IDM podium, was not satisfied. “It’s almost a tradition for me to have a bad qualifying,” was his comment, seasoned with a good dose of sarcasm. But while the young Pole was otherwise always able to make good progress in the races, the runs in Oschersleben were not quite to Krzemien’s taste either, with 12th and 13th places.
“The conditions had already changed a lot on Sunday compared to the cooler Saturday,” said the BMW driver, describing his arduous day at work. “The day before, I had definitely identified room for improvement and was actually quite confident. But over the distance I got a bit stressed with the grip on the rear wheel, especially at the exit of the corner. It cost me a lot of energy to overtake, and I made a few mistakes myself. We will now analyse what exactly was the reason that things didn’t go so well for me in Oschersleben and then do better in Most at the next IDM round.”
Before Team BCC-alpha-Van Zon-BMW continues with the IDM in Most, Czech Republic, from 23 to 25 June 2023, the drivers, each in a different team, still have the World Endurance Championship round in Spa-Francorchamps, the Belgian home of team boss Werner Daemen, coming up from 16 to 18 June 2023.
IDM Oschersleben SBK Q1 +Q2
1. 1:24,894 min. Florian Alt (Honda)
2. 1:24,969 min. Ilya Mikhalchik (BMW)
3. 1:25,468 min. Hannes Soomer (Honda)
9. 1:26,339 min. Max Schmidt (BMW)
10. 1:26,500 min. Philipp Steinmayr (BMW)
12. 1:26,732 min. Balint Kovacs (BMW)
17. 1:27,402 min. Kamil Krzemien (BMW)
IDM Oschersleben SBK Race 1
1. Florian Alt (Honda)
2. Bastien Mackels (Yamaha)
3. Hannes Soomer (Honda)
8. Balint Kovacs (BMW)
10. Max Schmidt (BMW)
11. Philipp Steinmayr (BMW)
12. Kamil Krzemien (BMW)
DNF Ilya Mikhalchik (BMW)
IDM Oschersleben SBK Race 2
1. Florian Alt (Honda)
2. Hannes Soomer (Honda)
3. Bastien Mackels (Yamaha)
6. Balint Kovacs (BMW)
8. Philipp Steinmayr (BMW)
9. Max Schmidt (BMW)
11. Ilya Mikhalchik (BMW)
13. Kamil Krzemien (BMW)
IDM SBK Points standing after 4 out of 14 Races
1. 95 Punkte Florian Alt (Honda)
2. 68 Punkte Hannes Soomer (Honda)
3. 60 Punkte Bastien Mackels (Yamaha)
5. 37 Punkte Balint Kovacs (BMW)
7. 32 Punkte Max Schmidt (BMW)
8. 30 Punkte Ilya Mikhalchik (BMW)
9. 30 Punkte Philipp Steinmayr (BMW)
10. 19 Punkte Kamil Krzemien (BMW)