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Kruger reaches podium after practice crash in China Kruger reaches podium after practice crash in China Photo credit: Darren Marlowe

China Pan Delta Superbike Championship-Rounds 1&2

Written by  on Tuesday, 24 March 2015 15:57

Riding a brand new Kawasaki ZX-10R, Montreal's Dan Kruger salvaged the weekend with a fourth and a third in the opening two rounds of the China Pan Delta Superbike Championship, leaving him third overall in points. Kruger had a crash in official Practice 1 after putting in the third-fastest time in that session and re-injured his right wrist hurt at last year's Suzuka 8 Hour race.

"I was preparing a new set of brake pads for the race on my 'B' bike and the brakes unexpectantly grabbed heading into the fast turn 1," Kruger explains. "I tucked the front end and had a lowside. I immediately knew I had injured my wrist again. We went off to the hospital for confirmation and some pain medicine."

Here is where things turned weird. Since Kruger missed official Practice 2, the rules state that he should have automatically been put in the second qualifier with the bottom 22 riders. Kruger went out in Q1, assuming it was the correct session, and was even waved out onto the circuit by officials. He managed to provisionally qualify in thirld on the front row alongside American rider Cory West on the factory EBR and Chinese Y.E.S. Yamaha's Li Peng. However, when the final grid sheet was posted, it had Dan back in row 15 in 44th and last position with no time recorded officially in qualifying.

Race 1: Kruger got a great start and had moved up into the top 10 within half a lap. The next 10 laps would be a struggle, picking riders off one by one and also managing his wrist injury at the same time. Kruger had managed to climb up to an amazing fourth place by the checkered flag and banked some valuable points towards the championship. Finishing in front of him were the 2 Y.E.S. Yamaha factory riders and the factory EBR of Cory West, who took the win.

Race 2: Starting from fourth position on the second row (due to his finish in the first race), Kruger struggled off the line and fell back to fifth into turn one. He stayed with the lead group and by lap two had moved into fourth. There was a red flag after a massive incident that saw two bikes and a rider on the racing line of the circuit.

The restart saw Kruger tuck in behind Yamaha's Zhao for fourth, and the next eight laps would see an epic battle and wheel to wheel racing. With four laps to go, Kruger went for the pass heading into the very fast turn 14 and made it stick. All 30,000 spectators were on their feet watching two separate battles in the same race, West on the EBR and Peng on the Yamaha for the lead, and then Kruger o his Kawasaki against the Y.E.S. Yamaha of Zhao for the final podium spot.

In the end, West took the win and Kruger grabbed third.

"Not really sure what to make of the weekend," Kruger said after the race. "It felt great to get a podium but at the same time, it wasn't much fun giving up the lap record to Cory and never really being in the fight for the win. I also need to heal up fast as the North West 200 is coming up soon and you need all the strength possible for that road race. We get up to 203 mph on very bumpy country roads in northern Ireland, and I need to be fit for that event."

The Pan Delta was a sold out event and with 44 bikes on the grid, it was one of the best races of the weekend according to most. Kruger and his entire team dedicated the weekend to the late Jimbo Dawson who was a huge part of the team and the paddock in general. At 42 years old, he was taken too soon and the races will never be the same in China without him. He will be deeply missed but never forgotten. RIP Jimbo.

Submitted by Dan Kruger Racing-

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Wally Nesbitt

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