equipe37 at the 3-Landen-Cup in Hengelo
Following the usual argy-bargy now finally the season begins with two heats for the 3-Landen-Cup in Hengelo. Corinna and Nail pick me up at Rheine main station; from where we travel directly to the paddock in Hengelo, where Bernd „Besche“ Scheeder’s team is already waiting for us. They arranged a beautiful place for our tent close to the porta-potty. But we can’t fix the tent, because Axel and Tati are still in Helmond, Holland, at David’s, the satanic R 1 wizard, who wants to realise some masterstrokes. That takes a while. Thus we drive to Bronkhorst, the smallest village in Holland with town ordinances and privileges (how the trucker, responsible for the cleaning of the race track, explained later to me, this went along with a coinage prerogative and the right to collect taxes and meant endless wealthiness), for the „Herberg de Gouden Leeuw“, where a vriendelijk hotelier welcomed us. This was the first time the TomTom misguided us! But anyway: we got there. The well known motorsports journalist Andy Glänzel, who would stay with us for the week-end, arrived almost in the same moment. I hope he felt comfortable with us, we by all means felt us good in his presence.
The vriendelijk hotelier locked the main entrance at midnight, so I had to get up again at 2:30 a. m., when Axel and Tati arrived, to let them in.
In the morning we went to the track without breakfast; building up the tent, fixing the bike and then we went for the first practise session. In consideration of the fact, that I was new in Hengelo I didn’t know, that the pit lane was on the inside of the track, the stewards sent me away abruptly with my timing board in my hands. So Axel wouldn’t get his lap times.
After that session we found out anyway, that the Contis didn’t work (nobody knew, why). Thus we swopped to Pirellis and went for the second practise session. Which went much more better. However there was not even a single team member in the pit lane, because all of us have been too late. Shit happens! We felt well prepared; especially the so-called „mobile“ generator (36 kg!), fixed on a colour-coordinated push cart, was in combination with the tyre warmers big fun.
In the evening back to the „Golden Lion“, where we had the privilege as guests to get dinner even past 9 p. m. Very delicious; everyone in a good mood, but exhausted. One for the road, then we went to bed.
The next morning the short warm up made no problems. Then the starting grid for the first heat of the 3-Landen-Cup. The high professional mechanic’s team Nail/Smoke preheat the rubbers up to 80ºC. Then the 1 minute board! Taking down the tyre warmers; Axel is on his way for a sighting lap. We meet Nena, Besche’s daughter, in the pit lane, because she wants to use our timing board, too. Tati and Corinna want to watch the race at the first right hander after start and finish. At the start there are some minor contacts on the narrow lane (greetings from the northern-irish Temple-100-course), but nothing happens in the end.
At the end of lap one Axel lost a few places, but follows the TT-veterans Dirk Kaletsch and Patrick van Gils. Unfortunately the second lap Axel didn’t even finish. Our one thought went to Tati, who is very nervous (or scared) when her husband is on the bike. Additionally she is pregnant at the moment, which limits the moral capacity even more. But we have to stay in the pit lane (vide supra) and try to get some information by the stewards. Eventually we get the news that Axel had had a crash, but no more details. Trying to phone is absolutely useless at this noise level. Then Besche enters the pit lane because of an engine blow-up and told us, that Axel hadn’t been brought away for a long time, which hasn’t been a good sign.
Finally race is over. Besche’s team mates took care of our equipment, so we could go directly to the medical center. There is Tati, totally affected and almost not adressable; Corinna even reported a nervous breakdown. How Tati later stated, she remembered her first visit on the Isle of Man, which started with a bike crash, too.
Axel himself seems to be O. K. Beside two ice bags nothing indicates some injuries. Precarious is the fact, that Axel thinks, he’s not even started a race. The medicals and the para-medicals, who looked fondly after Axel and the anxious team members, traced this back to the unconsciousness (this was the reason for the long period of treatment out on the road) and a concussion – according to the marks on the helmet that seemed plausible.
To be certain, Axel has to stay one night in hospital. Tati and Nail escorted him in the ambulance (Chevy-Van with V 8 big block), while Corinna and me packed the Ford Transit. Andy, one of Besche’s team mates agreed immediately to take the van with him and to bring it to Unhold. Corinna and me drive towards Doetinchem to the „Slingeland Ziekenhuus“ The lady in the TomTom says: „300 meters left“ when we passed the road sign for the crematory!
Nail waits for us on the parking site. Everything is very well organised; the employees in the hospital are exquisitely friendly. We don’t know all the names; so we want to mention exemplary: Ms. dokter Martens of the first treatment department, ziekenverpleegster Wilbert, who helped Tati and Axel to organise a train connection for Monday and last but not least ziekenverpleegster Ingeborg of the traumological branch, who served us hot and cold drinks and helped Tati to find a nice hotel (expectedly with a vriendelijk hotelier-vrouwe) and was much more light-hearted than all Berlin nurses together!
Knowing well, that Axel and Tati were in good hands, we travel towards Rheine, being on schedule. Unfortunately we trust in the TomTom. Not until a road sign announced the (german) A 12 direction Oberhausen, we became sceptical. The TomTom directed us exactly 180 degrees away from our aim. The train I will miss definitely. Via phone I check another connection: Intercity from Rheine to Berlin Ostbahnhof; close to my own front door! In Rheine we had to say good bye, assure us that we got off lightly and I enter the train. It started in - Hengelo!