Zhuhai, China- In what is heating up to be an exciting season Finale for the China Superbike Championship, Dan Kruger narrowly edged out YES! Yamaha’s Huang Shi Zhao as he went out for one final flying lap in yesterday’s final Qualifying session.
“When I saw his pit board with 3 minutes left of qualifying, I realized we had just been pushed onto P2 on the grid. I hopped on my bike with a SC0 Pirelli and out on final flying lap in. The moment I left pit lane, they closed the qualifying session,” Kruger said post-qualifying. That final lap gave the team the best outright lap they have ever done at this race track and got us pole position with a 1:37.6.
In race one, Kruger claims to have had a terrible start and battled for 2nd into turn 1. The YES! Yamaha R6 was passed as riders went around a very fast turn 3. The rest of the race saw Kruger lead but never actually manage to gap Zhao. After a number of failed pass attempts, Kruger took the win and also took back the lead in the Championship by 1 point. “It felt good to lead that one from basically start to finish,” said Kruger. “It was hot out there and we did consistent low 1:38s which made this the fasted Pan Delta race of all time.”
In race two, Kruger had a great start and led the field of 31 bikes into turn 1 with relative ease. According to Kruger, “We rode a very defensive race, not necessarily always racing on the line. We had decided that we would be better off racing against ourselves as opposed to against the others and that is exactly what we did.” By lap two, YES! Yamaha’s Zhao passed Kruger and he immediately tucked in behind the Factory R1 for the next 6 laps. Kruger stated, “We were right on his rear wheel and occasionally showing him a wheel.” Dipping into the 1.37’s was a first for both riders during a race, and a pass by Kruger was imminent. As they were making their way through back markers, Kruger went in tight to pass a lapped rider and had no choice but to take a tight line. Following the leader through the slow corner would have surely been the end of the race, and the Championship. “We were struggling in Race 2 through traffic and trying to use the line Zhao had carved out but in this case, there was no room left so we decided to cut in tight, but unfortunately at the speeds we were going, that was the wrong choice and we lowsided the bike and that was it.” With the Championship out of contention, Kruger re-mounted on a damaged bike and still managed to bring the bike home in 3rd. A hugely disappointed Kruger will need to wait another year to get his first Championship.
“To say I am disappointed is an understatement. I wanted that Championship bad! We had a great team, race bike, and all the components to make this happen. Looking back, I don’t think I had any other choice but to go for it the way I did. It is going to be a long break while I wait for round one next March.” The Speed Up Asia Team was still very proud to be in contention as their race budget is a fraction to that of the YES! Yamaha team and rider Zhao, the local favorite, is a former 250cc World Championship rider.
Kruger finished second overall in the series championship and looks forward to preparing for 2013, with his Kawasaki ZX-10’s arriving in two weeks. The team still has the 8 Hour Grand Prix at Phillip Island this December and the 3 Hour Endurance Championship in Zhuhai, China in December. They will be looking for podiums for both of those events. Also, one more test at Suzuka in Japan in October followed by the annual Motorcycle Show in Hong Kong this November.
Dan Kruger would like to thank all of his sponsors that Include; Kawasaki, Titanic, Speed Up Asia, RK Chains, Moto-Tronic, Pirelli, Hindle Exhaust, Motul, Team J-P Planning, and of course out team consisting of Sammo, Matt, KC, Jimbo, and the staff and Management of Zhuhai International Circuit. Please check out www.dankrugerracing for the latest photos and news.