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Hello all

Here's my report from the famous Brno GP track in Czech Republik. A very interesting yet very difficult track...

Preparations
I signed up together with some friends of a Ducati Dealer near me: We were 5 to head to Brno: Me (TLS), Koni (848), Finn (999S), Gianni (1098S) and Marco (Triumph Daytona 675)
Finn and me travelled with my Mercedes Vito van. Brno is quite a long voyage, over 1000km one way! Somewhere in Germany we stopped and ate something. Shortly after this break, the van felt a bit "spongy" on the highway and just half a minute later the rear right tyre exloded at 130kph. We had to mount the spare tyre, then organize a new spare tyre and lost about 2h. After some exhausting 13h we finally arrived in Pit #17 in Brno.
We shared the pit with a Ducati Zurich, anohter Swiss Ducati Dealer. There were 20 machines in our pit, roughly 15 Ducati out of that. Quite nice machinery in there: 848, 996, 998, 999, 999S, 999R, 1098, 1098S and even a brand new 1098R! It was quite nice to sleep between these :)

Friday, 4.7.08
Weather wasn't good. It rained and the sky was all dark, so it would probably rain until lunch. The organizer scheduled free practice until the rain stops. I immediately mounted the rims with the rain tyres and prepared everything for a rain session. When I wanted to head out, there was already a red flag phase, so I had to wait a bit.
Learning the track in wet conditions wasn't really an easy task. Well, after 2 or three laps I knew where it turns left and right. But already in the 5th lap, shit happened. I must have forgotten to brake after s/f and braked incredibly late at about 100m. Well, it was probably even too late, because when I wanted to turn in still very very slightly on the brakes, the front wheel immediately let go. I slid over the track on my ass, nothing too worrying. Rather worrying was to see the TL flipping numerous times when it entered the gravel trap. I picked it up and three marshals helped me to push it out of the gravel trap. I was fortunately completely fine. But the bike wasn't: Front fairings and screen completely destroyed, all brake levers on the right side bent or broken off. A lot of crap all over the bike, too. Shit! A van brought me back to the pits. The guys did speak three words english: "Hello, Pit?, sit!" (means: Hello. What pit number? Please sit on bike while we bring you back).
Back in the pits a damage report: Rain suit: Trash. Helmet and leathers: Perfectly OK. Boots and gloves: Almost no damage. Biggest problem for the TL was that I didn't take a spare screen with me, so I had to organize something similar that would more or less fit. I ended up with a GSX-R 750 K3 screen, that has a similar shape but is much shorter.
Finn was so friendly to help me to repair the machine during the morning. We replaced both brake levers, put on a new footpeg and new crashpad, repaired the cooling fan and the exhaust cans and washed the whole bike twice (about 10kg of gravel and crap fell off). Then we adapted the GSX-R screen and taped the front fairings together using a shitload of duct tape. Finally the front rain tyre had to be taken off to remove the gravel between tyre and rim! Many thanks to the tyre and parts service, GL Motorradtechnik! Finally we cured some minor electrical problems because of wet/dirty connectors.
By about 14:00, the track was dry and the TL was ready to race on slicks again. The organizer announced normal schedule by 14:40. So free practice in groups. Koni and me were in the red group and left together. I did one lap and then went back to pits again to check everything for water and/or oil leaks. Everything OK. The machine felt about OK, screen was very low so I had to keep my head on the tank on the straights. From the 2nd session on, I had big problems with the rear end after just some laps. It felt very very loose and the tyre went off like nothing. I was really worried something wasn't right with the rear suspension, but couldn't find anything wrong. In the evening, I went to Ruedi, the guy I shared the paddock tent with in Valencia. He told me that anyone had problems with the rear tyre. "Just put on a new rear tyre and don't worry". OK, done that.
The personal best of the day was a shocking slow 2:27 (target for our group was a 2:15 to 2:21). The organizer proposed to stay in the red group anyway.
We then went for dinner to the hotel where the rest of our group stayed. Slept very deep in the pits again.

Saturday, 5.7.08
5 sessions of free practice scheduled, the first four of them for qualyfication for the following GP race (14 laps). Koni and me set a qualification for the GP2 race as the target. But we have to improve a lot, only the fastest 48 can start.
Already in the first session, things go much better. With the new rear tyre, confidence is back! Koni and me drive together and discuss lines after the sessions. It's amazing that the TLS and 848 seem to be quite equal on this track: The 848 has a slightly better top speed. But I can make up some ground on the uphill sections where the slightly better torque of the TL kicks in. But it's clear that Koni has a lot less of work on the Duc, it turns so much better.
Until end of qualyfing, I'm on a 2:22.126 time. That's about 10th or 11th row out of 12. Koni is a row ahead, Benno from our pits a row behind on a GSX-R 750 K5. Not the greatest places on the grid, but the target was clearly qualification and thus we're happy!!!!
Before the last session, I raise the rear by adjustable suspension link by about 5mm, to make the TL turn a bit better. It seems to work excellent. Just before the race, I put on a new set of tyres: Front a new soft-medium Dunlop slick (KR106 in 6178 compound) and on the rear a new Metzeler Racetec K2 slick. Race mode will be the following: Pitlane opens for 3 minutes. During this time, you have to leave the pits and drive one lap to the starting grid. Then directly a standing start. No warmup lap!
Thanks to many helping hands, leaving the pits on time was really no concern. I pushed quite hard on the lap to the starting grid to get a feeling for the new front tyre and to warm it up properly. We all ligned up on the starting grid. Red lights, out, GOOOO!! I had a good start, but got caught a little bit in traffic on the s/f line. In the first lap, I gained a lot of places driving the inside line whenever possible. I then was in front of a whole pulk of bikes when a red GSX-R tried to pass me on the inside when braking after the back straight. Well, he didn't think that I was very late already and had to open up. His rear wheel crossed my line about 5cm ahead my front wheel, phew!! After leaving that pulk behind me and overtaking some more opponents, I could drive some almost free laps and things calmed down a bit. By about half distance, an older 750 Yamaha inline 4 passed me at the end of S/F straight. I followed him closely, but I couldn't catch him again. On the straights, he gained each time, while in some corners I could make up some time. When my front tyre began to slid in the long and downhill right handers, I had to let him go, but never lost him out of sight. When the pit board signaled two laps to go, I turned my head and saw there was nobody behind me. So lets go, catch this damn Yamaha! I started my final spurt and when I crossed s/f for the last lap, I was only 20m behind. When I was at the lowest part of the track, I was quite close and he must have heard the sound of the TL. At the uphill chicane, I risked a lot and accelerated as hard as I could. And then, in the 2nd last corner, he enterer a tad wide. My chance!! I entered the corner on the inside line with a lot of speed and passed him. Even when I ran wide on the exit, he couldn't catch me again because there was only one more corner to go where I drove a tight line. Whow, what a finish :)
End result was an 18th place out of 48 starters. Not bad, considering I had to dig through half of the field starting from one of the last lines of the grid. Personal best was a 2:20.276. The race was indeed very interesting, I received a few comments where people had enjoyed watching my race on the "loud TL".
For tomorrows free practice, I put the gold rim with the older rear tyre back in

Sunday, 6.7.08
Schedule: 1 session of free practice, then 5 sprint races in different categories. Koni, me and Benno are in the 750/V2 class. Qualification was no problem, I'm in the 5th line on the grid. Koni is 5 places ahead of me, Benno a few behind.
In the only practice session in the morning, I had a horrible feeling for the front tyre. He got torn up in yesterdays GP race and looked and felt really bad. Braking and right hand corners went really bad. So I bite the dust and bought another Dunlop front tyre. This time in medium-soft compound (KR106, 6136). The rear tyre looked still almost brand new and thus stayed on the rim.
Our category was the 3rd sprint race after the Speer Power Cup and the 600 class. Same race procedure as yesterday, with the exception that the race has only 8 laps. Finn (999S) and Mauro (999R) from our pits compete as well in this class.
In the starting grid, Konis position was occupied by others so there was a little delay until things were right. My start was excellent again and I gained quite some places, passed Koni as well. But I was trapped in traffic at the end of the back straight and lost some places again. I was running good, but not as good as yesterday. Koni passed me at about half distance entering one of the very-heavy-on-frontend downhill righthanders. Well, I simply couldn't go his speed entering the 1st turn and the righthander at the lowest part of the track. I felt my frontend wasn't really perfect. The only part where I was catching up a little bit was the uphill part after the last chicane. But unfortunately I couldn't catch the 848 again and finished 2s behind Koni.
Total ranking was 13th place for Koni and 14th for me. But more important, Koni won the V2 ranking, I was 2nd and Mauro powered to 3rd with his very well running (>160hp) 999R. That means our pit completely occupied the rostrum of the V2 class. That was celebrated with champagner!! Personal best was a 2:20.047.
Unlucky was that my cup fell apart on the way back to the pits. I had to repair again :banghead
We drove about two times 20m mins of free practice in the afternoon. From our pit, I was granted to testdrive a brand new GSX-R 1000 K8. Very interesting indeed, but very different from a TL! Very different position on the bike and you have to keep the revs up to 10000u/min for the real bite. I would have to drive longer on that bike to only nearly push it to its limits. Thanks to the owner who let me drive!!
The rest is quickly written: We drove back from 18:00 Sunday to 04:00 Monday back in Bern. I tell you I had something like jet lag (or simply missed some sleep) for the whole week :coocoo

Conclusion
Brno is a very beautiful, very interesting track. Unfortunately I didn't only have luck. The crash in the rain was my fault. TL looks a bit beaten up now. That I chewed up three Dunlop front tyres was a nightmare. The track is very hard on tyres and the soft Dunlops really didn't work. But the races were really big, big fun and the target to drive a 2:20 time was met.

Note
When I checked the TL back at home, I remarked that the forks were distorted in the upper and lower triple. So when the front wheel was aligned perfectly to the rear wheel, the clipons were pointing to one side. I could fix that by loosening all the frontend, but the forks took apparently a considerable big hit by the right clipon and are distorted by about 0.4mm where the clipon mounts. I have to have this checked by my suspension specialist.

Greetings
Rufer
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Here are some pictures back at home:

Remark the short screen:


Front fairing is cracked many times and there's a piece missing where the fairing stay would mount to the mirrors at the right side.



Rear fairing held up "perfectly". Incredible that it has not one bad crack even when it digged through the whole gravel trap!


Greetings
Rufer
 

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No Likey No Spiders
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Nice report Rufer, sounds like a lot of highs and some lows too. Glad you made it though that in one piece.

I always look forward to reading your ride reports, well done by the three of you. :hail
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Some action previews from www.sportfoto-trescher.de

GP2 Race:
Start phase:

A bit later:


Sprint 750/V2:


Celebration V2 class. The dog did like the champagne ;)


The short screen isn't so bad: I had more weight on the frontend than otherwise (more leaned forward)!



Greetings
Rufer
 

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WOW!!!!!!!
This must have been an almost a lifetime experience :hail
I really enjoy your post race write ups
Sorry for the crash and the broken parts but this is the price of the war. :devious
I guess everyone would prefer crashing in the track than on the streets (if there's anything like 'prefer crashing' :) )
Good for ya, dude :hail :hail
 

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Good work again Ruffer. Theres life in the old dog yet . At least it fixes up quite easily... Apart from the carbon fairing...£££
 

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Greeeaaatttt write up!!! That was awesome. Can't wait to read more of these.

C
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Glad you like the report :)

Some news on the bike. I was at the suspension shop today and we came to the conclusion:
- right fork tube is slightly bent where the clipon mounts. It seems not critical for the fork, there is no bush moving inside at this height. And it's not clear if it was from this or the 2 other righthand crashes.
- something is wrong with either the upper and/or lower triple. The forks don't slide-in without force, so one or both triples are probably not 100% straight
- the bike is rideable like that

I'll do a trackday next Sunday and decide if I have strip down and check everything before the last race of the TL Cup series. That would also imply a new front fairing :banghead

Greetings
Rufer
 
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