Epic. Mega. Once-in-a-lifetime. A dream year. Call it what you will, but 2014 was on heck of a year for me. In this blog there will be facts, name-dropping, a little bit of bragging, and some cold, hard facts. When someone told me I should start a bucket list, I did. They forget to tell me that I didn’t need to fulfill everything on that list in the first year! It did create quite a busy year for me, but looking back as we see the year coming to an end, all I can say is… wow, mission accomplished!
The year started with some testing in Asia and then we had the first two rounds of the China Superbike Championship, but the entire time, I was thinking about my road racing debut at the North West 200 and studying the Isle of Man TT circuit (almost 38 miles per lap). I then went to Europe to a BMW Cup race in the Czech Republic. My year has been so wild, I don’t even recall how I finished in any races before July. I mean, I know if I was on the podium or if I was top 10 or top 20, but that is about it. This can only be the result of the huge undertaking of learning six new racetracks in one year, although you can’t possibly call the Isle of Man TT a racetrack and I also can’t possibly say that I learned it yet either.
Kruger on a factory-supported BMW Penz13.com Superbike in Frohburg, Germany.
The next three months were simply unbelievable. I moved to Europe with my wife and baby for 5 weeks to properly get ready for ‘the roads’ and also to prepare for representing a world class company like BMW through the Penz13 factory-supported team. I lost my friend and teammate Simon Andrews during the North West 200, which continues to be a personal reminder about how fragile life is and how dangerous road racing is. The TT never became what it should have for me as I was deep in mourning and really questioning what the next steps in my career should be. I am still questioning this from time to time. I immediately went to Rounds 3 and 4 of the China Superbike Championship and then was off to Japan for a three-day test before the Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race.
The following three months had continued highs and lows, including a horrible high speed crash at Suzuka with a factory-supported Yamaha team which left me unconscious and with broken bones and torn ligaments. I am still healing at a slow pace from that crash, although we went on to finish the 8 Hours in 17th. From there it was back to Europe for a road race in Frohburg, Germany with BMW, where I got four top 10 finishes including a 6th in the final Joey Dunlop Open which made me the fastest newcomer ever at that event and put me back on track mentally in terms of the loss of Simon. I immediately flew to China for the final two rounds of the Superbike Championship where I hung in there – still injured – to finish second overall in the 2014 championship.
Kruger and team on the grid at a China Superbike Championship round. It’s green machinery for Kruger in China.
The final three months of 2014 took me to Phillip Island, Australia for the MotoGP Superbike support race on Kawasaki machinery, and then over to Macau for the world famous Macau GP, also on a Kawasaki. A Top 20 finish at Macau impressed everyone as the grid featured one world class rider after another. I was relieved simply to qualify in that event. As a newcomer, it is not an easy circuit to learn, especially when you have the flu and are on antibiotics. Finally, I attended the always fun, always cold, and usually wet 3 Hours of Zhuhai endurance race in China, where me and teammate Karl Roe won and I set a new track lap record.
Kruger during the Superbike support race at the Australian MotoGP round on another Kawasaki ZX-10R.
Tune in next week for part two of my 2014 year in review!
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All the best!