Italian Roberto Panichi took his third win in the BMW 2003 Boxer Cup today at the German Sachsenring circuit in front of a capacity crowd of 70,000 who saw thrilling wheel to wheel racing right the way through the 20 laps. Panichi's win has closed...
Italian Roberto Panichi took his third win in the BMW 2003 Boxer Cup today at the German Sachsenring circuit in front of a capacity crowd of 70,000 who saw thrilling wheel to wheel racing right the way through the 20 laps. Panichi's win has closed up the championship with now 16 points, equivalent to third position in the final race, covering the top three contenders of Andy Hofmann (CH), Sebastian Legrelle (B) and Panichi.
The race started with Panichi converting his pole position into the hole shot immediately into the first corner, whilst a tremendous start from Markus Barth (D) rocketed him from 7th to 2nd ahead of Peter Ottl (D) and Richard Cooper (GB). However, the tight first few corners of the 3.6 km race track meant it was extremely close racing. "It was so close through the Castrol Omega cruve - it was a complete sea of BMWs!" said VIP rider Randy Mamola. It was a little too close for some though as Norbert Rebholz (D) got pushed onto the grass and had to spend the rest of the race fighting back to salvage and eventual 15th place.
At the start of the second lap, American Jason Perez unluckily fell at the Kodak curve creating a chance for the leaders to break away with initially a group of three made up of Panichi, Ottl and Barth. American Brian Parriott did a string of fast laps to make it a group of five as he brought Legrelle with him during the chase. Further back Barcelona round winner Thomas Hinterreiter fought past Cooper and championship leader Hofmann to then bridge the same 2.5 second gap to the leaders. This he did to make it a group of six, but only for a moment as Barth fell through the final corner of lap 9 to be out of the race.
With seven laps to go there was just 2.1 seconds covering the leading five riders with Panichi still leading and fending off the advances of Legrelle and Ottl, but then on lap 16 Legrelle lunged for first place in an effort to try and make a break for it, but Panichi always had an answer and was soon past. "I always know that I can race my best when I am alone and in front, so I just wanted to get away from the group." Said the Italian.
Riding alone was the best idea for Panichi as he found a better way around backmarkers, enabling him to extend his lead to just over one second relatively enormous for this race - for the first time with just three laps to go. In the meantime, Hinterreiter set the fastest lap of 1m 34.290 secs, a stunning 0.15 seconds faster than the pole position of Panichi, as he leapt from 5th to 3rd place in less than one lap. He did feel after the race that his attacking riding in catching the leaders was detrimental to the performance of his tyres.
The last lap was set up to be a thriller, and with Panichi just out of reach, the battle for second was initially headed by Parriott who was looking for his second podium of the year. It was cylinder to cylinder racing all the way through the final corners with eventually 2nd, 3rd and 4th places over the line covered by less than a bike length. Legrelle did the lap of his life to be 2nd, Hinterreiter 3rd and Parriot just 0.023 secs off the podium in 4th.
Andy Hofmann came home a distant 6th and was bitterly disappointed to add a mere 10 points to his tally, and although he still leads the title, it is now by just 6 points rather than the 15 he came into Germany with. BMW VIP rider Randy Mamola brought his R1100S home in 7th ahead of Richard Cooper and Gwen Giabbani.The next race is the decider of the nine round series.
The circuit of Brno in the Czech Republic in three weeks' time will see the winner of the BMW 2003 BoxerCup drive away a brand new BMW M3.