May 18, 2015- The Vauxhall International 2015 North West 200 is Ireland’s largest outdoor sporting event, attracting crowds in excess of 100,000 as well as the biggest names in the sport.
Team Penz13.com Bathams by BMW Motorrad participated with 13-time winner Michael Rutter, Ulster-Man Stephen ”Hong Kong” Thompson and Canadian Dan Kruger. And it all started promising after a decent qualifying session on Tuesday and further improvements on Thursday. The scheduled Superstock race on Thursday had to be cancelled due to difficult weather conditions and therefore the team concentrated on further adjustments on the electronics mainly on Rutter’s bikes.
But again, the weather was quite a mix of everything. Strong winds, short but heavy showers and sunshine – they had it all. With starting grid position of 6 & 9th for Rutter, 15th & 17th for Thomson as well as 30th & 34th for Kruger, they all had been very optimistic that they could overcome their struggles in changing weather conditions and finding the confidence to go much faster in the races.
But Saturday didn’t bring any luck. The weather was the main enemy and so most of the races were either red flagged or shortened due to some incidents in the first couple of laps. Therefore the first Superstock race got cancelled, and later it was confirmed that three riders and a spectator had been involved in an accident between York Corner and Mill Road Roundabout involving Dean Harrison, Horst Saiger and Penz13.com team rider Stephen Thompson, plus a female spectator. Thompson and the spectator had to be airlifted to the hospital with serious injuries, but the conditions of both are stable. Thompson went through six-hour surgery that night and he will have a long recovery ahead of him. We wish him all the best and a full recovery. Unfortunately he has to give the upcoming TT a miss.
In the main Superbike race, Rutter finished fifth while Kruger came from deep in the field to finish 13th.
Michael Rutter: “I can’t say I have enjoyed the North West 200 very much, especially after I learned that Stephen won’t be back on a bike soon. I really hope for him to recover quickly. I am going to miss him and his jokes at the TT. The difficult weather conditions didn’t give us much time to adapt myself to the bike and vice versa. The new electronics give me a bit of a headache as I have to change my riding style here and there. But at the end it all looks promising and I am sure we will overcome these difficulties for the TT. I am really looking forward to it.”
Dan Kruger: “Weather and red flags aside, I had an epic NW200 this year. The team gave me competitive race bikes and I learned how to ride through pretty much every weather condition that has ever existed! Getting 13th in the main Superbike race is great and I like seeing my name up on the timing sheets with the guys that I am learning from and respect. If we hadn’t had a clutch issue, we would have been fighting for a Top 10 but then again that’s racing. Get well soon Stephen.”
Rico Penzkofer: “All in all it was a difficult but very important race week for us as we hadn’t any chance to test the brand new bikes with Rutter before this event. So we both learned a lot on where we have to improve the bikes. At the end a 5th place in the Superbike race is quite promising as we made some great progress on adjusting both the rider and the bike. I am very pleased and looking forward to the TT with Michael. I wish Stephen a speedy recovery and the entire teams thoughts are with him and his family.
“With Dan, finishing in 13th is more than we could have asked for. He still suffers from his injuries but proved that he is a real road racer. Unfortunately he won’t join us for the TT due to personal commitments but we will see him shortly in some more races in Europe.”
From: Team Penz13.com by BMW Motorrad