The countdown to the opening round of the 2011 IDM series has begun and BMW enthusiasts will have a new face to follow as the German Superbike Championship gets underway at the Lausitzring on April 24.
Australian rider Damian Cudlin has secured a place in the alpha Technik- Van Zon- Kraftwerk BMW Team to race the S 1000 RR in the series. The reigning IDM Supersport champion, currently based in Gera, is delighted to step up to the premier category in 2011.
"Working with a new team can be little strange at first, but after two days of testing at the Lausitzring with the Alpha Technik squad, I felt like I'd been working them for six months.
"I think it went really well," he added. "Obviously, there was a lot of work to be done, we had to find the base set-up for the bike, and it's also my first time riding with Pirelli tyres and Bitubo suspension, so I needed some time to adapt. But we were in fourth place by the end of the weekend, which I think shows the potential of what we can do."
The 28-year-old, originally from Taree, was signed by Werner Daemen, the new manager of the alpha Technik- Van Zon- Kraftwerk BMW Team. Cudlin, who has been competing on two wheels since the age of seven, will take Daemen's place as rider and partner to Swiss team mate Marc Wildesen.
Although the lack of testing time could be against Cudlin in the opening round at Lausitzring this month, Werner Daemen believes this won't be a problem for a rider with Cudlin's experience. The Australian also rides for the official BMW Motorrad France Team in the Endurance World Championship (EWC).
"Damian knows the BMW very well," says Daemen. "He's done a lot of work already in the EWC with BMW. Plus I'll be there to help him with everything, particularly the technical components that we use in our team. I always said that I will end my career and focus on team management and my racing school when I find a rider who is as fast as me. We are confident that Damian has the power and the skills to step into the big shoes of a small man!"
Cudlin is also feeling quietly confident for the coming IDM season: "I don't expect to be at full strength at the start, but I want to start at a decent level and continue to build on that. As long as we can improve, I think we should be in a strong position by mid-way through the season."
He is particularly looking forward to working with Werner, whom he partnered with at the Le Mans 24 hour in 2010. "I'm honoured to race for BMW and have such a strong team of people behind me. It's the team I wanted to ride for the most and I can't wait to get started. I owe a lot of people thanks - all the team sponsors, BMW, and my good friends at Bike Promotion. But without Werner's faith in me as a rider, it wouldn't have happened, and I won't forget that. I hope to repay them all with great results in the 2011 season and make Werner proud as team manager."
The opportunity to ride the RR in both the IDM and EWC is another positive for Cudlin. Obviously, there are differences between the specs of both models, and the demands of the events. "The endurance RR is heavier, can hold more fuel and is quicker to change. We can change the front and rear wheels, and load it with 24 litres of fuel in 10 seconds. To do the same thing on the Superbike version could take 20 minutes," he explains.
Along with his EWC team mates, Sebastian Gimbert and Erwan Nigon, Cudlin is hopeful of success in the Bol d'Or 24-hour race in Magny Cours this weekend, which has swapped dates with the Le Mans 24 Hours. "We are the strongest team on paper, we're all fast and we have a good chance to win. But with endurance, it's not just about speed: to finish first, first you have to finish. But with a bit of luck and no problems, we have a good chance. All in all, it's great for me to be able to continue to work with BMW on both fronts, and I think it's going to be a good year."
For more information and to follow Damian's progress on the BMW S 1000 RR this season, please visit www.damian-cudlin.com