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RACE IN LELYSTAD, 4-August 2013
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6th out of 47 starters. Quali: 7th. ~300 spectators
A fun race with plenty of race action with an overall good result. There was room for more, but it could have been a lot worse as well :-) I had a very hard time in qualifying and ended up 7th in a difficult position on the starting grid, but managed to have decent starts and then managed a 6th overall. The second race was especially fun, I was charging very hard towards the guy in front of me and I was clearly faster, but he fought for it and in the end managed to defend his position by half a bike length on the finish line. The fight was the highlight of the race though and the announcer got all excited ;-)
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Race Prep

There is always a free Saturday practice day before the Lelystad race, so I went to check out the bike after Hannamax did some maintenance to it. I tried a new gearing as well and wanted to see the track layout since they often change it. The day did not go well, I had problems getting into a rhythm and the gearing was really bad - I did not expect one tooth difference on the rear sprocket would make such a difference! I quit early on to head back and change the bike setup - new tires (and a whole new Goldspeed medium slick rear tire option!), move the forks further in, new (old) rear sprocket to be precise. Ready for race day!
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The setup changes worked out well, but man I got really bad arm pump! It must have been the alternative track layout, but I did not expect this in the middle of the season! I had to stop twice to relax my arms and ran out of time towards the end. I was in 6th position, but I saw that not much was missing to move quite substantially forward, so I waited as long as I could to get the arms going and went out again. My first flying lap was not so good, but I crossed the finish line 16 seconds before the end so had one more lap. I struggled but fought hard to get the lap in. Unfortunately, I had a little bit of traffic and disturbance, but I still improved my time to get 5th in my group. There was room for more ! Since two more riders went faster in the second group, this meant 7th qualifying time for me and a rather bad position in the starting grid on the inside in second row.

If I get arm pump after five minutes or so, the race would be over. So I changed the handle bar setting slightly before the race and also used the famous "Latschenkiefer" liquid on the forearms, together with some muscle squeezing. And it actually helped later on ! Luckily no arm pump in the races.
Quali result: 7th
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Race 1

No, I don;t like this starting position, squeezed on the inside with someone in front of you. If he doesn;t get off the grid well, then I'm stuck as well. This time it went fairly well, although I was passed on the outside before the first corner. It is a tricky schicane after the start, so I had to bereasonably careful. As a result, I came out of the first lap in 9th position. Already  in the second lap, I managed to pass one guy and then Olaf Harmsen and John Mooiman got into each other, so I could pass them both for 6th position; and I was right behind Anne Jan Fokkinga in fifth. Mid-race, I managed to pass him, so I was running in 5th, then we ran into lappers in the very same lap and in thhis process, I chose an inside line to get by them where he smashed through on the outside, so back in 6th... This happened again a little later, when I got by him and then we ran into a lapper during a long left turn, where I tried it inside but did not quite make it and then was squeezed to the outside and I lost three (!!) positions !! That sucked... So down to 8th for a while and my right hand fell asleep. I could not feel much anymore, so already thought I would settle for 8th. But then I realized that John Mooiman also got tired and I saw a chance there.

Two laps before the end - I had no feeling whatsoever in my right hand anymore - I passed him on the start finish straight and then defended 7th position to the end! What a relief to get the hand off the handle bars and regain some blood flow... best feeling ever - together with a fun race of course :-) I was proud that I could follow the front quite well after all the struggle before (just a few seconds behind fifth and less than fifteen seconds behind third).
Race 1 result: 7th
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Race 2

Second race went off well, however no gains after the start (but also no losses...). One guy Renzo - a rookie in t he race, but quite fast - had a great start and was fifth after the first lap. I was right behind Olaf and again John on my back. Olaf could pass Renzo in the third lap and I was up next to make a pass. Surprisingly, Renzo fought hard to defend his position and rode defensive lines. It is very hard to get by on this layout if the guy in front of you stays fully defensive and makes no mistake. Since I was quite a bit faster and had John pushing from behind, I kept trying to find a line around him. First spot was on the start finish line, where Renz did not get the best turn and I could get next to him and got basically by. However, there is a left turn leading to the schicane and inside, I had not a good line. Renzo braked much later and I had to back off; of course he could not take the schicane well, but blocked me off since there is only one line. Next chance was after the schicane into a long left turn, a very fast turn that then leads into a hairpin 180 right corner. I realized that I got better out of the schicane and with some guts, I could try it outside (!) in this left corner. I tried it several times, coming close, but I also didn;t want to overdo it and throw the race away. Some laps before the end, I tried it hard, really riding on the outside on the edge and was by him, but again, he did not back off and I had to break later - too late, so I missed the corner. Still, I made the turn and was on the outside, but in the wrong gear !! By the time I downshifted, he was again on the inside, but I was right next to him for the following corner, a right hand turn. So I stayed next to him, but he pushed me off the track and I went on the grass. John was right behind me, but I squeezed myself back on the track in front of him. So, lots of action, but no gain... he just didn't make any mistakes and I was too cautious to push through.

Last lap, we ran into lappers in the offroad and just before the steep turn after the jumps, he got close to him and pressed himself through. I watched this and thought that he may not make this, so I quickly decided to take chanced and the tight turn there - a line that is normally a bad choice and never faster - and sure enough, they ran into eacj other and lost momentum. Inside, it is very loose and almost no grip with the slick tires. I tried desperately to get traction and managed to get back on the asphalt in front of him! So for a split second, I was in 6th position, but then he came with excess speed out of the corner and I couldn;t make it stick quick enough, so he went by again. Last chance was the start/finish straight and I set him up the best way I could in the corner before - and I accelerated faster! In the end, it was half a bike length missing... Great fun, but a bit disappointing that I didn't manage to make the pass.
Nevertheless, this fight was the attraction of the race, at least that, and overall it wouldn't have changed the result of the race - overall a great 6th position!
Race 2 result: 7th
Overall: 6th
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Next race

Not much break in between, the next race is already on the next weekend in Holten.
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Pictures: Click here for pictures