You believe in magic numbers? Usually Pegasusraceteams EBR 1190 carry the #1 of the 2009 and 2010 Sound of Thunderchampion Harald Kitsch. Last year at the Ducati Clubraces at Assen TT course, we got our number and brought home a victory. This year the Nr. 1. was already given to a starter of UK´s Ducati 848 cup, so we accepted the Nr. 3, not thinking that this might be an omen. (-:
At the Race 1 & 2 of the season at Eurospeedway Lausitz we finished second and first….. no we don’t believe in magic numbers, in fact a chaos weekend killed this time our ambitions.
To the start. We arrived on Thursdaynight and Ton the first secretary told me at the welcomecenter, believe it o not , they report rain for the Sunday, what is traditional for the Dutch Ducati Club the raceday. “That would be the fourth year in a row with a wet Sunday” he said and I answered, “I don´t trust the weatherreport, we will take it as it comes”. If we had known that WATER will be the phrase of the weekend, maybe we had done some things different….
Friday started with clouds but ok. Assen is 104 dB low noise country, after our 2010 burning boot story, the Team had prepared for the EBR 1190 RR an underseat exhaustsystem with routing the exhausttube trough the swingarm. The setup was untested, Ronnie Kreeft from AST modified the suspension again and we had fresh revised engines in both bikes. All was dynotuned at M-TeK, but how all will play together under fieldconditions we didn´t know.
The free practice was going well, Harald mainly try to get track knowledge (they changed the tracklayout again), because Assen is very fast and you need many many kilometers to go real quick. So as expected, the factories really tried to look good on this first return of the old B.E.A.R.S rulebook. BMW placed with Gisbert van Ginhoven (S 1000RR) and KTM with Nelson Rolfes (RC8 R) two real Assen Specialists on their factory bikes. We finished the day with the 3rd fastest time overall.
Saturdaymorning: RAIN! For sure now that UK riders from the 848 cup will show up we were thinking, they grow up on raintires and they start together with the BEARS, also from the Assen Specialists we expected fast laptimes. Surprise in the wet Q1, no real rainheros at the place for now, Harald and the EBR 1190 got pole for the moment, thanks to AST for a great rainsetup. Q2 is dry and float us back on 5, with 3 Dutch (Ginhoven, Rolfes, Fredriks –BMW/KTM/BMW) and an Italien (Valter Bartolini with the brandnew GPM 1000 project) in front of us. We calculate that we can get the Italien and maybe Fredriks to stand in the front row, but then it starts to rain again and Q3 is wet, so we need to live with startplace 5, behind Gisbert van Ginhoven on the good side, things could be worth.
So what we need for Sunday is rain, we got it wet but unfortunately on the wrong way. The day started clear and dry with some clouds. There is no warmup so we couldn´t change so much over night. Our races are at 12.00 and 14.20, so there is time, we are a bit nervous because usually in that situation you would have 1 bike standing on wet, the other on dry. But we have only one prototype exhaust and swingarm, we are training the change and in the end the Team is able to swap the rear complete (subframe, shock, exhaust, swingarm, wheel) a bit under 20 minutes. So comparing to a tyre and shockchange this is no option, in fact we have only one bike. We hope that it will turn out, but racing is cruel.
When the bikes reached the startingpositions for race 1 it started to rain. The officials stopped the start, called the bikes in and gave 2 minutes before paddock redlight. We managed to get the bike in time on raintyres out again. The half field failed to change in time and stood now in front of the redlight at the end of the pitlane to start behind the field. That’s our race!....... but then Harald came back into the pits, reports the half track is dry and suddenly the rain stopped also at our side of the track, so no chance for the rain reartire to make that, the competitors are in their positions, GREEN, the field is away, also the light in the pits turn to green now, the others are going out now too, rearwheel in, all checked and OUT!
Could it be that we worked day and nights, qualified 5th , to start behind the field that starts out of the pits behind the real field what started before? Harald ist out now the absolute last with 35 guys in front of him and surely he is not amused….
He plowed through the field like a berserk try to catch up with the leaders and it worked, but what we all did not knowed, that some riders, including GvG had their bikes completly on slicks, what means for the start they need to take it easier, but later when the track will get dry they can go faster than we with rain in front and slick in the back. The race goes over 10 Laps, till lap 7 Harald is going laptimes up to 10 seconds quicker than Gisbert, in fact he close up to 3,4 seconds on the BMW factoryrider. But if GvG like to win the BEARS he need to speed up to catch Bartolini. What he have done than on the now dry track and rode the fastest lap of the race, 5 seconds faster than any other. Also the other good tyregamblers from the UK 848 cup havelaptimeswise nothing to hold against. But they took the race with 1,2,3,4,6 (Morris, Fry, Gilbertson, Edwards, Brown). 5th was GvG, 7th Bartolini and 8th Harald Kitsch on the EBR 1190 RR. For the BEARS the result was 1. GvG, 2. Bartolini, 3. Kitsch. So finally a 3rd for us in a real chaos race with a start behind the field. Fastest Laptimes overall was going to GvG, Harald was 4th quickest (2nd in the BEARS).
So the 3rd BEARS race of the season ended on the 3rd position with the borrowed Nr. 3 startnumber.
For sure Harald was not keen to finish the next race as fourth. As we have seen in the training and first race, Valter Bartolini is to beat, but there is another S 1000 RR with Johan Fredriks a Dutch rider, what starts to go really fast.
Second race was dry and that means that at least GvG and KTM rider Nelson Rolfes are beyond our possibilities, out of own power a rank 3 would be the maximum and first of all Harald need to hold Bartolini and Fredriks behind him. Unfortunately we got a bad start and Bartolini on 3rd overall was slowing Harald approximately 0,5 seconds per lap down. Fredriks on the S 1000 RR was getting closer from lap to lap and finally caught him on the end of the start/finish straight, but Harald fighted directly back and Fredriks needed to take the emergency exit 2 turns later. With the BMW and KTM far ahead was only the Italian GPM 1000 rider Bartolini left and Harald had now another 4 laps to study him and go over. But also to finish 3rd you first need to finish. But then it was not Bartolini or Fredriks what cost us the last place on the podium, again WATER was our destiny. A radiator hose slipped, because of overpressure in the coolingsystem, from the radiator and drained the water into the bellypan. Funny that we had an discussion before the race if we should have the dryrace rubberplugs in or not. Anyhow, at the end of lap 8 when Harald brake the bike into the righthander chicane (it is this super quick right/left you see in our 2010 video before the finishstraight) the water drain out of the bellypan on the frontwheel and he parked the EBR 1190 RR horizontal in the gravelbed. Not much broken on the bike, Harald ok, but maybe a thrown away podium by the team.
At the end Fredriks got Bartolini and the Podium was a Dutch rider only, S1000RR Sandwich with Rolfes on the KTM between. Best Ducati 848 finished 5 overall with Leon Morris.
Startnumber #1 Darren Fry finished the race 7th overall and 3rd in the UK Ducati 848 Cup, so for him the ONE was not the lucky number.
Upcoming weekend next challenge for Harald and the EBR 1190 at the German TT at the Schleizer Dreieck natural Roadracing Course. There we compete in the Superbike open and welcome not only the S1000RR but also the Japanese inline fours. At least we get back our # 1 plate….
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