SECOND AND FOURTH FOR BURNS AT SACHSENRING
CHRIS Burns claimed his maiden podium in the IDM German Superbike Championship at Sachsenring on Sunday afternoon. The former MotoGP rider brought his Holzhauer Racing Honda across the line second after leading most of Race Two, following a fourth place in the morning's first race. After being quickest in three of Friday's free practice sessions, the 29-year-old from Newburn had hoped to grab a good spot in Saturday's qualifying, split over two half-hour sessions.But he decided to try a slightly different set-up for the first session, and was only able to qualify 10th.
Having decided to switch back to the original set-up for the second session, the plans were scuppered when it began to rain just moments in, and he was unable to better his time.
As raceday dawned to changeable conditions, it all came down to tyre choice. Choosing the hardest wet for both races, the whole field was caught out when three laps into Race One, the rain - which had been falling hard around the circuit - suddenly stopped and the track dried quickly.
"Everyone was in the same boat, we were out on wets and the track was drying, so the tyres were degrading pretty quickly," he said. "I'd found my way up to third and as the laps ticked by I was hoping we could keep the position.
"But on the last lap my tyre was almost destroyed, and as I came round the final corner I knew there was someone behind me. I could see the chequered flag and the podium but as I went for it the tyre was just spinning and spinning and he beat me over the line by a fraction."
Race Two was held in similar conditions, only this time instead of drying completely, it remained wet. Another fast start saw him up to third by the end of the first lap, and he soon made his way up to second, before taking the lead.
"I was on hard wets and I got out in front," he revealed. "I must've led for about 10 laps, and I can remember going down the straight thinking to myself 'what's happening here, am I really leading this race?' Unfortunately, I'd not banked on the guy who eventually won, Gabor Rizmayer, who had chosen what was to be the perfect compound.
"He appeared to come from nowhere, and by all accounts had run off the track earlier on but got back on and started to take massive chunks out of everyone - he was taking two seconds a lap out of me.
"As we headed into the last lap, he got me on the final corner of the penultimate lap and I couldn't do anything about it. He got a second and a half ahead of me in just that one lap. I didn't want to push it any further because the last thing I wanted was to crash, so I just stuck with it and settled for second."
Burns joined seven-times F1 champion Michael Schumacher at the factory Honda squad last month as a replacement for injured reigning champ Martin Bauer. He joined the squad expecting to race only a handful of rounds. He is set to contest the next round next month, but after that it will depend on whether Bauer and Schumacher are both race fit.
Schumacher has yet to race this season as he recovers from a pre-season testing injury, although he has tested several times with a view to return as soon as he can.