4. heat to the IRRC at the Schleiz triangle circuit
At present races come up in quick succession: After the event in Chimay Equipe37 just had 2 weeks left to prepare the bike for the German Speedweek; after the endurance race another 2 weeks to repair the damages caused by the accidents in the 8 hours race, before we had to leave for Schleiz. In Schleiz the final heat for the Thuringia Championship took place. This event for the first time - like Chimay - was part of the International Road Racing Championship. So for rider Axel it was a new experience to start here.
Stressed and set up by the job Axel and assistant Smoke arrived in Schleiz (none of them had the opportunity to get the Friday off work); mechanic „Don Perfecto“ Michel was the only really relaxed team member. First of all we checked in at our self-accomodation apartment, which is situated close to the course and in direct neighbourhood to the hotel „Luginsland“, which should be advantegously to us, how we would learn later on.
After a very warm welcome by our landlord we made ourselves at home and then walked to the recommended hotel, mentioned above, where we had some delicious thuringian specialities. In the restaurant we met some visitors from Frohburg, Ducati racers and riders and our Bridgestone tyre fitter. We were absolutely satisfied, felt very well and the meal was tasty. Axel learned by the friendly waitress, that the breakfast buffet was to open at 6:45 a. m. and that we were allowed to eat there for just a little money.
For this reason we had to get up at 5:30 a. m. the following morning for personal hygiene: we wanted to be at the breakfast in time to make shure to get early enough to the paddock for the drivers meeting.
A bit sleepy we get to the buffet and had a bite to eat as preparation for practice day. At first we looked for a place in the paddock and erected our pavillon. As we learned leater on, we were in the old paddock, which today - on account of a transferral of the start-finish straight - is situated not anymore at the starting area. To get there, you had to travel quite a while (even the competitors on their machines). In the new starting area a new paddock has been built, which was almost vacant. Weather wasn’t bad: cool (Michel would say: arctic cold), but the sun came out now and then. Axel had booked a free practice session - to learn the track by heart - which had not been organized very well; so Axel couldn’t do many laps. But it was better than nothing. The two practice sessions for the IRRC riders wouldn’t have been enough, for shure.
So Axel got faster lap by lap, got to know the circuit and felt more and more comfortable. But the weather became more and more a problem: just for minutes it was absolutely dry or absolutely wet! The sun and winds on the one hand, black clouds and rain showers on the other led to multiple changes of track conditions even in a short 20-minutes practice-session! With our equipment so far away in the old paddock changing of tyres was not possible. Axel insisted, that his mechanics had to organize a professional handling of the two IRRC heats on Sunday.
At the end of the last practice session - still hoping for a SUNday - we fixed slicks to the bike. Afterwards again we went to the hotel „Luginsland“, where we were already known and popular. It’s out of place to discuss, whether this is the result of the team members’ behaviour or the extraordinary tips!
The team went to bed relatively early, compared to other race weekends.
Sunday morning did welcome us with a drizzle. Axel liked this, he is a natural rain driver with his TT and Irish Road Races experience. So we went for our second breakfast. Afterwards we had to check out, say good bye to our host and then carried on to the paddock.
There our marquee collapsed 20 minutes before the start to the first IRRC heat under the extremely violent gusts. Now we had to improvise to still have a roof over our heads. Michel takes some photographs to prove this shabby looking tent.
Then we had to organize a potentially necessary wheel change. The Equipe37 couldn’t avoid - just as all the others in the old paddock - to get tyres, tyre warmers, tools and jacks from the old to the new paddock. After we got there, we had to notice, that all sockets were occupied. A friendly BM team had one left in it’s multiple socket. Caused by the delay, the race organization carried through the day, the schedule was almost useless: just arrived in the new paddock, the competitors had been ordered to the warm up area. In this mess the mechanics neglected to heat up the tyres well. This was even more annoying (and more dangerous), because after repeated power failures in the old paddock the tyres on the R 1 were cold anyway, when brought to the parc fermé.
The cold temperatures, approximately 12 or 13 ºC, did one more thing: Axel didn’t trust in the rubbers and did his laps with restraint to prevent new damages after the disastrous weekend in Oschersleben. This was successful, but the race indeed wasn’t satisfying for team boss and rider Axel.
After the first heat a long break occured with some chat with other teams and having a few thuringian barbeque sausages. The second IRRC heat was our final step during this race weekend anyway, and it was much more better than the first stint: in the end Axel did laps of 1:38 minutes! So Axel got 13 important points for the Championship. I don’t have to mention, that wet tyres have been carried up hill and down dale and through half Vogtland County without using them once! But now we had learned, that our (hopefully more stable) marquee has to be erected in the new paddock area, where the race preparation is more easy to handle.
Now the end of season for the IRRC and the Equipe37, too, is on the agenda: the 48th Frohburg riangle races and the Joey Dunlop Open Trophy. In Frohburg Equipe37 will bring three riders and bikes to the starting grid (FloR1, Andy and Axel). We can’t wait for this logistic challenge and the result of the intern team battle, too. I don’t know, whether team orders exist prefering the team boss; after Frohburg we will know more and tell you on our web site, whether Ferrari style takes place in the IRRC or not!