Rookie Rolin takes unforgettable maiden victory

06 May 2024

Sachsenring classic turned upside down by red flag

Race 2 on Sunday at the Sachsenring started with the same grid as Saturday, but in place of sunshine and a warm breeze, dark clouds loomed ominously in the distance. With the track having dried from rainstorms earlier in the day, all riders started the race on slicks.

It was another poor start from polesitter Ben Wiegner (JB-Racing), with the fast-starting Alessandro Binder (Kiefer Racing) taking the holeshot from 11th on the grid. Familiar face Jurrien Van Crugten (BB64 Academy) and Belgian Tom Rolin (Junior Black Knights) slotting in close behind.

At Turn 3 on the first lap, Race 2 saw its first incident with Daniel Krabacher (Kini Bike World) and Valdemar Mellgren (Nordgren Racing) colliding and sliding off track into the gravel. Both riders OK.

During the first few laps, a big first group had formed with Van Crugten, Rolin, and Kitzbichler playing leading roles, swapping positions and the lead, each one faster at a particular part of the track, the Dutchman fierce under braking, Rolin showing his podium on Saturday wasn’t about luck, but about his incredible racing instincts. By lap four Matteo Masili (SaMarigosa MM Racing Team) entered the fray, hitting the front for the first time in 2024. Then it was the speedy Kitzbichler’s turn, eager to make up for Saturday’s mistake. That didn’t last long because on lap five the Austrian lost the front and crashed out yet again, denying fans the chance to see his impressive skills in action. Rider OK.

On lap eight Binder had a stint leading and Frenchman Antoine Nativi (Racing Nativi Team) and German Wiegner joined the lead group of six. By lap 10 wet-weather specialist Levin Phommara (Phommara-Racing) hit the front and within a couple of laps it looked like it would be between Phommara, Van Crugten, and Nativi for victory, the three forming a lead group and jockeying for position.

By lap 13 a lead group of 10 had formed, but the rain began falling on the track at the waterfall, Turn 12, and the last corner.

The last lap is where the story unfolds. Nativi made the first move, a decisive maneuver that put him in first ahead of Van Crugten and Binder at the end of the main straight. But there were more raindrops. And then at the waterfall even more, and at Turn 12 it was properly raining. First to succumb to the tricky conditions was Binder who lost the rear and slid across the track and into the gravel. Most riders managed to dodge, but not Thias Wenzel (Kiefer Racing), who hit Binder’s bike and crashed out, rider OK but bike very much not. Lorenzo Pontillo (Junior Black Knights) also took evasive action and ended up in the gravel, but rejoined. Two riders out.

Meanwhile, the lead group of Phommara, Van Crugten was at the last turn, but first to go down was Nativi who lost the rear, then it was Phommara with a highside, and then Van Crugten folded the front and the three were in the gravel, all riders ok but that leaving Belgian rocketship Rolin to cross the line in first ahead of Matteo Masili and polesitter Wiegner. Completing the top 5 was Richard Irmscher (Racing Team Irmscher) and Tom Kuil (Zelda People Racing).

Some confusion followed the chequered flag because as the lead group passed into the last sector, red flags were shown, and the NTC follows the Grand Prix rulebook. It took time for the race result to be confirmed, with the likes of Phommara, Nativi, and Van Crugten feeling aggrieved by the result… but this is racing, it’s unexpected, it’s crazy, but it was also exciting and despite all the crashes, all riders were perfectly ok.

We look ahead now to Round 3 in Oschersleben in just under four weeks! Will Tom Rolin continue his roll and challenge Cup leaders Van Crugten and Nativi? Tune in to find out!

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