On the first weekend in May, the team travelled to Hengelo in the Netherlands for the first road racing meeting in 2018. Racer Schmiddel only had a short trip - about 1.5 hours from his home in Wuppertal. For team manager Eric, Friday started rather badly in Stuttgart due to electronic problems at his car. Thanks to a lot of organization, another car was found, which could also move the caravan. Thus, the team arrived in the Netherlands in the evening.
Saturday morning, the trainings for the IRRC and the Benecup were scheduled. Like many other racers Schmiddel had decided to start as a guest entrant in the Benecup in order to have more training time.
The IRRC qualification races were mixed and there was too much traffic on the track in the 2nd important qualification race; Schmiddel could only achive the 9th-best time. In the last qualification of the Benecup, Schmiddel fought his way to 3rd place. His best lap time was only a few tenths from the top (in the Benecup and IRRC). So the race day was eagerly awaited.
The first round of the IRRC in 2018 started on Sunday morning. Grid position 9 on the narrow track in Hengelo was not a good condition as overtaking is very difficult. During the start, Schmiddel lost 2 positions and he passed the pit lane again after the first lap on position 11. Then he startet to attack and compensated ground and positions. Regarding his lap time he was a lot faster than the racers in front of him. A team of four was formed, including Jochen Rotter. Permanent position fights took place and, in the second half of the race, Schmiddel was able to take the lead of this group to position 6. Due to Yves Pierre Biean's hard manoeuvre and technical defect, which led him into the green and caused him to lose many positions, the group around Schmiddel benefited with an additional position gain; Schmiddel finally finished the first race in a very good 5th position. This even meant the 4th position for the championship as the winner of the race was a guest entrant.
The motorbike went well and everyone had a relaxed lunch break. The 1st run in the Benecup was skipped for strategic reasons.
In the afternoon, the second race of IRRC started -s the mission to collect valuable points again. Schmiddel made great progress again and made up some positions, but then his place in the race was empty. On the horizon, a slow driver came towards the pit lane. It was Schmiddel. He had to give up the race due to technical problems. The so-called "Hengelo misfortune" had caught us again.
Then, the mood was at its lowest point and the mechanics screwed fiercely in the tent. Suspicion of coupling problems. Everything unscrewed - the motorbike ran. The team decided to start in the 2nd run in the Benecup.
We were ready for the race 5 minutes before the race started. We started right out of the tent and not out of the pre-start. Also very unusual for Schmiddel, as he always likes to be the first in the pre-start and likes his established procedures. Then, trolleys were forbidden on the starting grid and we could only put on the electric blankets. Here is another appeal to the organizers: Such changes should be discussed in advance; it's not a friendly way to be chased away on the race track. We were glad that it was very warm that day.
All signs for a great race were rather bad. A machine you didn't know if it would resist and an improvised launch preparation. But with grid position 3 from the qualification race, we were in the front row. Although everything had gone suboptimally, Schmiddel managed to establish himself in the leading group. He fought with Laurent Hoffmann for the podium positions. In the pit lane, we hoped that the technique would resist because Schmiddel delivered one lap after the other. After the 7th lap it became clear to us that a podium position could beckon here and the hope was then also rewarded. Schmiddel was happy that he could show that he will be one of the fast racers of the 2018 season.
Therefore, he was very happy at the award ceremony. Unfortunately, however, he could not drink his sparkling wine because the doping control kept a watching brief over him. Later, however, the entire team celebrated in the tent.
The next race will be the 300 curves of Horice. After his 2nd position last year, Schmiddel is probably one of the candidates for the top positions.