Schumacher Back in Saddle – After testing a Ducati MotoGP bike last year in Valencia, seven time world champion Michael Schumacher again proved he was almost as fast on two wheels as he was on four, when he finished third in a bike race, held at the Hungarian track of Pannonia-Ring on Thursday.
Although the majority of the 27 bikers who entered the 10-lap race were enthusiastic amateurs, 39-year-old Schumacher faced some tough competition, as his teammate at the Holzhauer Racing Promotion team was none other than 2007 IDM (Internationale Deutsche Motorradmeisterschaft) Superbike Champion Martin Bauer. Another IDM rider, Andy Meklau, was also on the grid.
Schumacher, apparently competing just for fun, and wearing his orange overalls and black helmet familiar from the Ducati tests, arrived at the Pannonia-Ring, a 4,740 meters long track near the Hungarian village of Ostffyasszonyfa, late afternoon on Wednesday.
He then completed only a handful of laps, but went on to claim pole position for the race on Thursday, although it has to be noted the professional IDM riders’ bikes didn’t have timing transponders and were relegated to the back of the grid.
Instead of starting from pole, Schumacher – riding an 1000 cc Honda Superbike – decided to join them on the last row, but then made his way up the field to finish third behind fellow Honda racer Bauer and Meklau, who was on a Suzuki. All three competed in the 600+ cc category.
Schumacher’s best lap of 2:01.309 was about six seconds slower compared to what his professional rivals were capable of, but was still 0.6 seconds quicker than anyone else could manage in the course of the race.
Although Schumacher’s presence was mostly unexpected, some 250-300 people still turned up to watch the race. But they were left a bit disappointed when their hero, shying away from making a public appearance, decided not to attend the podium ceremony.
Hamilton Fastest in Practice – Lewis Hamilton displaced the Ferraris from the top spot at Sepang with a quick lap right at the end of the afternoon session.
He pipped Felipe Massa by just 0.151s to go top, while after stopping on circuit in the morning, Kimi Raikkonen took third.
There were some surprises behind with Sebastian Vettel taking a solid fifth, just behind another surprise, Honda’s Jenson Button. The Renaults looked off the pace in 14th and 15th, with Nelson Piquet much closer to his teammate.
Following his incident in the morning RBR’s David Coulthard did not take part in the session. The other major drama concerned Sebastien Bourdais, who suffered what appeared to be a transmission failure right at the start of the session, and thus missed out on valuable track time.
Malaysian Grand Prix – Practice 2 times:
1) Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes , 1:35.055, 32 laps
2) Massa, Ferrari , 1:35.206 + 0.151, 33
3) Raikkonen, Ferrari , 1:35.428 + 0.373, 36
4) Button, Honda , 1:36.037 + 0.982, 40
5) Vettel, Toro Rosso-Ferrari , 1:36.474 + 1.419, 35
6) Trulli, Toyota , 1:36.493 + 1.438, 38
7) Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes , 1:36.512 + 1.457, 30
8) Kubica, BMW Sauber , 1:36.671 + 1.616, 33
9) Fisichella, Force India-Ferrari , 1:36.756 + 1.701, 37
10) Nakajima, Williams-Toyota , 1:36.838 + 1.783, 34
11) Barrichello, Honda , 1:36.879 + 1.824, 38
12) Rosberg, Williams-Toyota , 1:36.908 + 1.853, 36
13) Heidfeld, BMW Sauber , 1:37.106 + 2.051, 35
14) Alonso, Renault , 1:37.328 + 2.273, 23
15) Piquet, Renault , 1:37.331 + 2.276, 42
16) Webber, Red Bull-Renault , 1:37.346 + 2.291, 37
17) Glock, Toyota , 1:37.512 + 2.457, 35
18) Sutil, Force India-Ferrari , 1:37.614 + 2.559, 35
19) Sato, Super Aguri-Honda , 1:39.021 + 3.966, 27
20) Davidson, Super Aguri-Honda , 1:39.361 + 4.306, 30
21) Bourdais, Toro Rosso-Ferrari , No time , 1
22) Coulthard, Red Bull-Renault , No time
[Source: Speed TV]
IRL Testing at Sebring – Oriol Servia paced the final day of testing at Sebring International Raceway for teams and drivers transitioning to the IndyCar Series.
Six drivers completed 354 laps on the 1.7-mile, 11-turn circuit. The start of the day was delayed until noon after strong rains came through the area just before the scheduled start time of 9 a.m. The session also was interrupted for approximately 30 minutes in the afternoon when the No. 18 car driven by Bruno Junqueira made contact with the tire barrier in Turn 5. Junqueira was not injured.
Servia’s fastest lap was 52.7035 seconds, 114.072 mph, besting his KV Racing Technology teammate Will Power by 0.2416 of a second. Servia completed 174 laps over the course of two days – most of any of the drivers.
“Honestly, I don’t think we should give that much importance to the lap times themselves just because there was just 12 hours of a thousand cars running here, so there’s a lot of rubber,” Servia said. “I am happy with the balance of the car. Yesterday, we tried some things and I didn’t really like the car. But, today we tried some other things that really suit me and I like the car. We ended up fast. I’m very happy that both cars ran trouble-free over the two days. That’s a big accomplishment.”
The drivers and teams head to Homestead-Miami Speedway for testing under the lights on March 24-25. They will be joined on the oval by transitioning teams HVM Racing, Newman Haas Lanigan Racing and Roth Racing drivers Marty Roth and Jay Howard, who did not participate in the Open Test in February.