Switzerland's Andy Hofmann took command of the BMW BoxerCup 2003 with his debut win of the season at a wet Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. In a thrilling race all the way to the very last metre, Hofmann's won the race by less than a second...
Switzerland's Andy Hofmann took command of the BMW BoxerCup 2003 with his debut win of the season at a wet Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. In a thrilling race all the way to the very last metre, Hofmann's won the race by less than a second with then the next five riders crossing the line in less than 0.7 of a second. Italy's Roberto Panichi was second with the winner of last year's race, Britain's Richard Cooper, just 0.013 seconds back for third. Hofmann now leads the championship by 15 points with two races remaining at the Sachsenring (D) and (CZ).
Pole man Sebastian Legrelle (B) took the holeshot into Eau Rouge for the first of the 10 laps with a brave manoeuvre to lead up the hill ahead of Tony Waistnage (GB) and Panichi. Dirk Buylinckx from 8th position on the grid made a stunning start to then soon be up with the first two to then lead at Les Combes on the third lap. There then was a break away of eight riders with a five second advantage over the rest of the chasing field.
The leaders at the halfway point were Buylinckx, Legrelle, Fernando Cristobal (E), Alessandro Tomassoni (I), Waistnage, Hofmann, Cooper and Panichi with places changing every lap at Les Combes the Bus Stop and and La Source corners. However at this point the fastest man on the race track was America's Brian Parriott who was lapping over two seconds a lap faster than anyone else to soon catch the leaders. He brought with him Marcus Barth (D) who was on a charge to the front of the field from 31st on the grid.
At the start of lap 7, Le Mans winner Tomassoni was in the lead and keen to break away from the big pack which was by now slower as a group than against a solo rider. Unfortunately it was not to last for the Italian as he fell at Stavelot with an enormous high side from which he was lucky to walk away. Hofmann then saw his chance to lead ahead of the leading group of 11 riders, but as they started the last lap it was going to be anyone's race with Hofmann leading Panichi and Cooper.
Into Les Combes for the last time and Tony Waistnage just got squeezed out by another rider and fell from fourth. Again though, Barth was on a tremendous charge from 7th to be 3rd at the Bus Stop for the last time to then try for the lead at La Source. The braking was so late from all of the riders, but a little too late for Barth who went wide. Hofmann kept his line to safely win whilst Panichi and Cooper were side by side to the flag for a photo finish.
Winner Hofmann was overjoyed at his victory. "I did not go at full speed until the end of the race. I was always keeping something in reserve and it worked!" Panichi said, "I felt good this morning and of course wanted the win, but I am so happy for Andy as he is a very fair and clean rider. My problem in the race was that I did not see how many laps there were to go, but on what I was sure was the last lap I tried so hard into La Source and got second."
Richard Cooper said, "The last corner was never going to work for some riders so I held back a little. The plan worked on the exit when I was ahead of Panichi, but just before the finish line the engine hit the limiter and it was enough for me to slow down and for him to get second!"