SummaryRacePrepQualifyingRace1Race2NextRace - Pictures

RACE IN LELYSTAD, 8-April 2012
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5th out of 68 starters. Quali: 2nd. ~600 spectators
A great qualifying result as 2nd, fastest of my qualifying group, and a little unfortunate starts into the races with still great results as 4th and 5th, this summarizes the first race of the year quite well. I screwed up both starts, dropping back to 3rd and 4th and I was never able to regain positions. I had to fight sime dirty riding and decided to back up before going down in order to save the results. It's a long season and the speed looked good, so can't wait for the next race!
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Race Prep

After returning from Spain, there were still a couple of changes for the bike. The left side engine cover leaked oil and we had to install the twin pile exhaust system due to noise. I was afraid of losing too much power, but the guys from Hannamax changed the engine settings and now the bike runs even better than before! Then I had another practice session in Lelystad to check that everything works on the bike now and all went fine, so well prepared into the Lelystad race. Only remaining concern was the weather, I did not have my preferred Metzeler rear rain tire option ready, so hope fully no rain...
On race day, it was luckily dry but also extremly cold, so ideally I should keep the waiting time before the sessions as short as possible.
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First qualifying of the year!! I started cautiously because of the cold weather, so increased my speed slowly but surely. I got into a rhythm quickly and posted the fastest time of the first 10 min of free practice. The15 min qualifying start right after, so I kept it up and improved lap by lap. Already in lap 2, I posted the fastest time and went off to the pits. I suffered some arm pump, which surprised me a little bit but it might have been due to the cold weather. At the time, my fastest time was a second faster than the second best! I tried to relax and go out again to attack my own time, just to be sure, but I did not find my rhythm again and also did not get a clear lap, so I could not improve this time. Benno Tuinstra came very close, just 0.013 sec behind, but I made it to win my practice session!! Normally, all fastest riders are in this session, but once in a while and especially at the first race, there are fast guys in the second group. So it was this time and Ronnie Kreeft beat my time in the second group. Shoot, just missed my first pole by half a second, but still very happy to start from row one!!
Quali result: 2nd
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Race 1

The first race of the season started very weirdly. We did our installation lap and lined up at the starting grid when the officials called the start off and we all had to return. Turned out that they screwed up the line up... They ordered us back to the pits and wanted to start with the Euro class first. So, pushed my bike all the way back just to learn there that they changed their mind and now we were to start right away again. Pushing the bike back again... I was exhausted already plus the tires were totally cold. They denied giving us two installation laps to warm up the tires properly, really bad. FInally they let us go and it was really hard to get the tires back on decent temperature in just one lap. It really required concentration and some work!! But then, finally ready for the first race in the season.
The starting light was on red relatively long and when it turned green, I did not get off perfectly. I entered first corner in 3rd position, with the fourth guy from qualifying, Arjan Schouten, going by. I was directly behind him and he held me way off right away on the asphalt part. So Ronnie got away and I was stuck behind Arjan... he was very fast in the offroad part and it caused quite a big gap leaving back on aspalt, but there, just three corners later, I was right at his rear wheel and stuck again. So my overall much better lap speed was killed during the secind half on asphalt.
Mid race Arjan made a mistake leading to the second straight right before the offroad and although he tried to push me off the track - at fourth gear flat out,... - I staid firm and passed him in before the chicane! Unfortunately, this is right in before the offroad and there, he got by again.... Frustrating situation. Even worse, Benno got by me just a lap or two later, also in the offroad. He managed to get by Arjan and I was right at his rear wheel again.
On the last lap, he made again a mistake before the long back straight and I tried to go by outside. This time, he really consciously pulled over and pushed me towards the wall, way off the race line, and I backed up. Dangerous riding, but guess that's racing... Officials didn't see it, but that's quite normal at the KNMV as we will see in race two again.
I passed the checkered flag on 4th position, a great result and a very cool feeling to know that I can keep up with the front! Hope was to have a better start in race two so I have free riding especially in the beginning to be able to pull away.
Race 1 result: 4th
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Race 2

Second race also started with a big delay. There was a crash in the race before us and the medical team needed some time to get everything sorted. So, cold tiresm but at least they gave us two installation laps this time. Due to the delay, they shortened our race to 10 min plus one lap.
The second start went even worse than the first one and I wheelied the bike! This didn't happen to me for quite some time and I ended up in the middle of the riders behind me battling for the first corner. One guy from second row rocketed by, but surprisingly - and with some elbows and contact - I exited the first corner on 4th position. Benno in front of me did not get out of the corner well and I attacked him on the secon corner. I even went by, but missed the corner just enough that he oculd cut behind me and go by again - great move on his side I must say. For the first two or three laps, I was again held up behind Benno, I had a much better speed on the asphalt but just could not get by. He was also not so much faster on the offroad, so I hoped that we get close to the guy from second row and then see how it works out. Then in lap 6 there was a yellow flag in the offroad and I backed up a little. A little too much. I had no one right behind me on the radar, but Arjan passed me and I was totally confused. First of all, it is not allowed to pass under yellow, but I somehow knew that there wouldn't be any consequences (later confirmed by the officials that of course did not see it - and also didn't do much effort to find out...). This confused me totally and I lost my rhythm and made several mistakes on the following lap. Suddenly, I was under pressure from behind, so even had to defend my 5th position! I got my act together again, but the shortened race did not leave time to attack again forward and I think it would have been hard to make a pass again anyhow.
In the end, I was happy with the result! 4th and 5th leading to an overall 5th position is certainly not the best possible result considering the qualifying and the speed, but it is a great result - the best I ever had in the Dutch Championship! And instead of risking this, I think it was wise to protect the result. It is a long season and we'll also come back to Lelystad. I'll work on my starts and further train as hard as possible, then we see.
Race 2 result: 5th
Overall: 5th
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Next race

Next race is in Zelhem on 29 April. I did reasonably well there last year. I hope that the offroad will be similar to last year and that it won't rain.
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Video: Click here for YouTube video