Road Racing

Damian Cudlin clings to podium at Red Bull Ring

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After a strong performance at the previous round in Schleiz, Australian Damian Cudlin headed to the 7th round of the IDM Superbike Championship full of confidence and ready to advance in the championship standings.

The new Red Bull Ring venue seemed to immediately suit Cudlin and the Alpha Technik/ Van Zon/ Kraftwerk BMW and the team set an impressive pace in Friday's opening practice sessions. An afternoon storm heavily affected Friday's final practice session, however Cudlin felt confident with the bike's performance in either weather condition.

Saturday's opening qualifying session presented the first mechanical issue all season for Cudlin's crew when a faulty radiator cap caused a 20 minute delay in the box. With limited time remaining, Cudlin set the 3rd fastest time on just his 3rd flying lap of the session before returning to the box. Unable to use his 2nd qualifying tyre in the time remaining, Cudlin went on to improve his time in the hotter qualifying session in the afternoon but couldn't improve his grid position for Sunday's races.

"It's a shame we lost some time in the opening qualifying session, but it's the first time anything has gone wrong with the bike all year, so I really can't complain" Cudlin explained. "Anywhere on the front row is a good place to start from so I'm looking forward to the races."

Fantastic summer weather greeted the fans on Sunday as temperatures soared to 35 degrees. In the opening leg, Cudlin made a quick start and battled for 2nd with championship leader Bauer on the opening lap, as Ranseder set a frantic pace at the front. Unable to maintain the pace of the leading duo, Cudlin dropped behind but held 3rd position for the first half of the race. With 8 laps to go, Cudlin felt a sudden drop in tyre performance and began to struggle with a lack of grip. Dropping down the field dramatically at the end, Cudlin could only manage 7th at the finish; a whopping 20 seconds from the race winner, Ranseder.

"It's a really disappointing result and it hasn't done our championship any favors at all" Cudlin quipped at the end of the first race. "Our tyre choice was wrong and there was nothing I could for the last half of the race. It was just about survival at the end."

Cudlin and his tight knit crew put their heads together for the second race and came up with another strategy that proved to be far more successful than the first.

Blasting away from the line, Cudlin settled into 3rd on the opening lap, like a carbon copy of the first race. While the local riders sprinted away at the front, Cudlin opted to ride conservatively for the first half of the race to save his rear tyre for the end. With 8 laps to go, Cudlin put on a surge and broke away from his pursuers to claim his 3rd podium in the last 4 races.

"The second race was definitely better then our first, but I'm still a bit disappointed to have been so far behind the two in front of me. Pirelli have made a good step with the tyres recently but we still need to work and I hope that we'll have something stronger for the final race at Hockenheim. The championship isn't over technically, but Bauer looks like a shoe in from here now, so we're really focusing on trying to finish 2nd in the standings now."

Cudlin lies 3rd in the IDM Superbike Championship standings, just 2 points behind defending champion Karl Muggeridge but 42 points behind Martin Bauer.

The final race of the season will be held at Hockenheim, Germanyon the 18th of September.

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