Road Racing

Double podium keeps IDM title chances alive

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Damian Cudlin enjoyed the best results of his rookie IDM Superbike season with a double podium finish at Schleiz on the weekend.

Coming off the back of a successful race in the Suzuka 8 Hour just a week earlier, Cudlin re-adjusted to European time and immediately set a strong pace in Friday's training sessions.

Saturday's qualifying sessions, held in hot and humid conditions, saw the Aussie secure a 5th place slot despite encountering traffic on each of his qualifying tyre runs. Disappointed with the second row, Cudlin remained confident that his race pace would prevail in Sunday's races.

"We seemed to be on the pace in the wet and the dry during practice and I was confident of sticking it on the front row in qualifying but I got held up on each of my hot laps which cost me time." Cudlin explained after qualifying. "The BMW is working great here though and I'm confident of strong results in any weather condition."

Cudlin started Sunday strongly by topping warm up in dry conditions before rain settled on the Schleiz circuit insuring a wet first race.

Bursting off the line in the tricky conditions, Cudlin slotted in behind countrymen Karl Muggeridge in the opening laps as the pair broke away from the pack by 3 seconds. A nasty crash from Ducati's Dario Guessipetti brought out the red flag, which race officials deemed required a full restart. Despite losing their considerable early advantage, Cudlin put his head down again at the restart moving past Muggeridge for the lead and stretching an advantage at the front. Cudlin looked set to claim his first IDM Superbike win until the track began to dry at an alarming rate. Cudlin fought hard on his deteriorating wet tyres, smoke bellowing from the rear of his BMW as he slid sideways on the exit of every turn. Clinging to the lead as the last lap approached, Cudlin held back a determined Smrz on intermediates, but was eventually forced to concede to the Czech as he snatched the win from the Aussie.

"I tried as hard as I could and was determined to get my first win of the season, but the race was about a lap and a half too long for my wet tyres and I couldn't hold Smrz off for any longer." Cudlin said after the first race. "It's unlucky that we lost our advantage in race one, and even unluckier that the restart was delayed for so long, but I'm happy enough with 2nd. I hope we can go one better in the second race!"

The track dried in time for the second race, insuring a full field on slick tyres. Cudlin made another strong start and jumped in behind KTM's Martin Bauer and HRP's Karl Muggeridge for the opening laps. Bauer immediately broke away at the front and when Muggeridge made a mistake, Cudlin swooped past and set about closing the considerable gap to Bauer. The Austrian was too strong though, smashing the lap record as he pulled away from the Australians. The next 15 laps saw a close battle between the Aussies for 2nd place, with Cudlin coming out on top by a mere 0.02 seconds.

"It was a tough race but it was definitely a lot of fun. I couldn't match Bauer's pace, he blew us all away today, but it seemed we had the rest covered. Karl stuck to my back wheel for the whole race and when I saw the last lap board I knew he would have a go somewhere. I blocked each attempt but he squeezed past in the final turn and I thought then that he'd beaten me. I concentrated on getting a perfect exit and when I saw Karl spin up too much I knew I had a chance. Then the BMW power kicked in and I pipped him on the line. It's been a great weekend for our team and we're getting stronger with every race. I hope we can keep the momentum going now and finish the year on a high."

Cudlin now sits 3rd in the IDM Superbike standings, 27 points behind championship leader Bauer, and just 3 points behind reigning champion Muggeridge. The next race will be at the newly renovated Red Bull Ring inAustria where Cudlin hopes to achieve his first race win of the year.

Damien Cudlin on the podium.

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