Damian Cudlin steered his Alpha Technik Van Zon Kraftwerk BMW S1000RR to a pair of strong results, including a podium finish, at the second round of the IDM series at Oschersleben on May 8. It was the first for the Australian in the SBK category.
Suffering from set-up issues on Friday’s free practice, Cudlin and his crew made huge progress in Saturday’s qualifying sessions, allowing the Aussie to secure 8th position on the grid in the competitive field which saw less than a second cover the top 10 riders. Confident that his race pace was stronger than some of his rivals, Cudlin anticipated more progress in Sunday’s two Superbike races. After being fastest in the morning’s warm-up session, Cudlin and his team made the final preparations to his RR and lined up for race one in good shape.
At the start of the first race, Cudlin launched off the line but got boxed in at Oschersleben’s first turn and lost vital ground on the lead group. Cudlin moved to 10th at the end of the first lap and continued to gain positions early in the race. He soon found himself in 8th position but with some work to do to reconnect with the group of six riders up ahead. Reducing the gap significantly each lap, the Australian made up ground on the lead riders.
However, a crash involving Ducati’s Dario Gussipeti and KTM’s Stefen Nebel brought out the red flag, forcing a two-part race. Unable to join the restart from injuries sustained in the crash, Gussipeti and Nebel were forced to watch from the medical center as the second leg got underway.
This time Cudlin blasted from the line and moved into 4th position behind pole-sitter Mate Smrz, championship leader Martin Bauer and arch rival Michael Ranseder. The four set a hot pace from the start before Cudlin launched an attack on Ranseder, moving into 3rd on his RR. Suddenly Bauer fell victim to engine problems and Cudlin, Ranseder and reigning champion Karl Muggeridge fought over 2nd place. Unable to catch Smrz ahead, Cudlin held his rivals at bay and crossed the line in second position, giving him a 3rd place finish on combined times.
“That was an action-packed race,” said Damian. “The first leg cost me a lot of time but at least I was able to line up for the restart, unlike Dario and Stefen. The crash was awful and I really hope those guys will be ok. I put my head down at the restart and hung onto the front guys for as long as I could and thankfully it was enough to secure a podium finish.”
In the afternoon’s second race, Cudlin made another clean start but clashed with Team Yamaha’s Sacha Hommel in turn one, costing the Aussie more valuable time. This time the RR rider aggressively carved his way to 4th and began to chase the leading trio of Mate Smrz, Karl Muggeridge and Jörg Teuchert.
Lapping faster than the leaders for the first half of the race, Cudlin soon passed Teuchert and got within striking distance of Muggeridge and Smrz, setting up for an intense battle in the last part of the race. Unfortunately the charge to the front cost Cudlin’s rear tire, and the BMW racer lost time as he battled with his sliding machine. Unable to counter Bauer’s attacks, Cudlin dropped to 4th but held his healthy advantage over Ranseder in 5th. Smrz went on to take the double victory ahead of Muggeridge, Bauer and Cudlin.
“Although we didn’t finish on the rostrum this time, I felt we were stronger and were able to challenge for the win at one point. We are just losing out in the final stages of the race when the tires drop off. Once we get on top of this problem I expect to be on that podium a lot more often,” said Cudlin. “Overall though I’m satisfied with our progress and I really want to thank my crew for the great work they put in this weekend. We are getting stronger every time and I hope that we can celebrate our first win in SBK sometime soon.”
Cudlin and the Alpha Technik Van Zon Kraftwerk BMW team will race at the next round in Nürburgring on May 21-22.