@Penz13com • @Northwest200 • @dankrugerracing • The North West 200 street circuit, made up of public roads running between the towns of Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush in Northern Ireland, is one of the fastest in the world, with speeds in excess of 330 km/h.
This is the playground for Penz13.com Bathams by BMW Motorrad. Team boss Rico Penzkofer and his crew hired 13-time winner Michael Rutter for the biggest international road races, and the North West 200 feels like his living room.
Stephen Thompson, who is basically a local over there, has joined Canadian Dan Kruger, who got a good taste of road racing after he joined the squad last year. With brand new bikes and not much testing, the whole team was conscious about what to expect from the first practice session. While Kruger had most concerns about his fitness and Rutter about the lack of seat time, Thompson was one of the quickest right from the start.
The mixed conditions, with strong winds, occasional rain and low temperature, doesn’t make this race a favourite for racers. The rain hit the circuit right on time for the opening practice. Alistair Seeley posted the fastest times in three of four qualifying sessions in tricky conditions on the opening day. The Penz13 squad – only racing in the Superbike and Superstock class – is more than happy with how the first practice came along.
Michael Rutter (posting 6th & 7th fastest lap times) had a clear strategy and found his spot within the team: “Under these tricky conditions and taking into account that these bikes were built complete new and I hadn’t have a chance for a lap before – the main objective was to put in as many laps as possible. So each session we had today I went out straight from the second the practice started and till the chequered flag without coming in once. But I already feel pretty good and it only needs some little adjustments here and there on my position on the bikes and getting the electronics fine-tuned. But, all in all I can say it was a good start and I usually take it easy in the first practice, especially under these conditions. Obviously there are some really hungry lads out there that want to prove a point but we will be there as well.”
Stephen Thompson: “Obviously with all the Germans around we have to adjust a little here and there – they are watching me all the time…the bike is very fast and I already put some decent mileage on it. When the track was still wet I was out there and felt very comfortable and the times were pretty good. But the more the track tried I struggled a little to improve my times. But as soon as I came into the pits I knew what was wrong…I forgot that I was in rain-mode the entire time – something that I forgot to change when the track dried.”
Dan Kruger:” I still suffer some wrist pain from my recent China crash but really wanted to go around this track. So I got told pretty straight forward to go out there and put some mileage on and simply qualify for the big races so that’s what I did. It was obvious that there wasn’t anything to prove in terms of lap times under these conditions so I just concentrated on getting to terms with the new bike and making it feel like my own. Lap times will be coming in for me on Thursday.”
Rico Penzkofer:”All went well except for the weather – sometimes we ask ourselves why we come up here but to be honest this event is one of the best ones in the world and we also take it a kind of warm up for the isle of man. The bikes for Michael were all brand new and therefore we just concentrated on putting on some mileage. But so far so good – all is going well and there haven’t been any negative surprises. I am pretty confident that all three riders will come to terms and we will have some more laps to test the new electronic setting on Thursday.”