Theissen: "It's good to feel the support."
Nurburg, 20th July 2009. The highlight of this year's one-day event at the Nurburgring for fans and partners of the BMW Sauber F1 Team was the vehicle swap between German Formula One driver Nick Heidfeld and BMW Motorrad Superbike rider Troy Corser of Australia - more than 700 hp on four wheels in exchange for a good 200 hp on two. Over 700 guests came to the Eifel to enjoy an exclusive ride through the gamut of BMW's racing activities.
This is what Heidfeld (32) had to say after his ride on the Superbike: "It was a sensational experience - thank you to everyone! I already had lots of fun practising on the street bike in the morning, and managed to score the first scrapes into the knee area of my racing suit. That was inevitable. Of course I wanted to touch the ground while cornering on the racing machine as well, and I came up trumps there too. I had expected the Superbike to be a huge leap over the production version, a bit like series cars and racers, but I was surprised in the end. The difference is huge. On the one hand the Superbike is more aggressive, builds up more grip and has the superior brakes, but on the other hand it is easier to ride because you can control it so well. The handling is very precise. Obviously I'm still miles from the limit with the superbike; I would love to have done a lot more laps."
Two-times Superbike World Champion Corser (37) was likewise impressed by the Formula One race car: "It was just awesome! The car feels so balanced and the brakes are fantastic, the tyres have unbelievable grip and the steering is very direct but still has a lot of feeling. I can't believe how hard and late you can brake. I know I was braking too early and I really would like to have a day or two with the car to really see what I can do with it. I'd like to thank everybody involved in giving me this opportunity - and I hope I can do it again."
Heidfeld's Polish team-mate Robert Kubica steered the F1 racer around the short version of the Nurburgring, while the second BMW Motorrad bike racer from the World Superbike Championship, Ruben Xaus of Spain, let rip on his BMW S 1000 RR and gleaned his first experiences in the BMW 320si WTCC as deployed in the World Touring Car Championship. WTCC drivers Augusto Farfus, Jorg Muller and Sergio Hernandez, along with seasoned Nurburgring connoisseur Claudia Hurtgen, played taxi drivers in the WTCC car, the BMW M3 GT4 and the BMW M5 Ring Taxi. Guests were allowed to get behind the wheel of BMW M3 and Formula BMW cars.
Popular interlocutors and competitors in the slot car tournament were Peter Sauber and BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen, who valued the occasion particularly highly: "Above all in these difficult times, we are indebted to our partners and fans," Theissen stressed, "and it's really good to feel this support. It's easy to accept the accolades, and we've had plenty of them over recent years. But we must not let the dialogue falter when things get tough."
In the afternoon Xaus (31) swapped the touring car back for his superbike: "It was a lot of fun but I wish I had more time to play around - unfortunately I've got only two laps. The car feels very safe and you can go across the kerbstones, which of course I can't do on the bike. The big difference between four wheels and two is the braking, because you can brake a lot later on four wheels. I enjoyed my brief experience, but I prefer my bike because on the bike I feel free."
Robert Kubica (24) enjoyed the support of the fans, among whom were also a number of fellow-Poles. He commented on the event: "Looking at the BMW Motorsport fleet is quite impressive. If someone locked me up at a race track with all these toys, I would have lots of fun."
In addition to the activities on the race track, the autograph sessions and the shop talk, guests were also offered a glimpse behind doors that are ordinarily closed. A raffle was held for prizes such as a ride on the Nurburgring, both as a passenger and at the wheel, as well as signed items of racing gear and original vehicle components. And the BMW Sauber F1 Team Race Club was delighted to welcome new members at the Ring.
-credit: bmw sauber