The International Austrian Supermoto State Championship got underway last weekend in Burgenland, Austria and for K&N's Team Honda Austria, weather proved to be the most challenging opponent. What makes Supermoto racing so compelling for the growing legions of fans is that it combines motocross and road racing skills into one exciting event, and at these opening rounds those skills were put to a thorough test.
Florian "Superflo" Wedenig put on a show of his off-road talents by battling from the back of the pack, pulling out a seventh and fifth place finish.
Andi Rothbauer overcame the extreme weather conditions in Burgenland finishing both race one and two with a solid fifth place.
Team Honda Austria is one of the premier international Supermoto teams with International Supermoto stars, Florian Wedenig and Andi Rothbauer as team riders. Florian "Superflo" Wedenig competes in Class S Open, and Andi Rothbauer battles in the elite Class S1, and both riders overcame some intense challenges presented by severe weather. Heavy rain and extreme hourly weather changes presented problems not only with track conditions, but also with finding the correct bike set-up.
The two Team Honda Austria riders had the benefit of using two separate bikes, one for rainy and one for dry conditions which allowed them to use every single practice minute. The weather in fact became such an issue that for the first time in the Austrian Supermoto history, a decision was made by the organizers to keep a portion of the off-road section open so that races wouldn't be run only on the tarmac.
"This was a correct decision," commented Rothbauer, "they did a perfect job on preparing the off-road section, but during the day this was something that really split the Supermoto riders. Like myself, I have no off-road background such as motocross, so these muddy, slippery conditions were very tricky. Also, we did not get to practice on the off-road section on Saturday because it was closed during free practice, which did make for really exciting racing."
On Sunday during the Class S1 warm-up laps Rothbauer realized that the weather was creating problems for his tear-off goggles, signaling that he would be experiencing problems during the race. In the first race Rothbauer got off to a good start securing third coming out of the first corner, and that's when the trouble with his vision started and he fell back to fifth. Rothbauer was able to stay close with the riders in front of him to lock up a solid fifth place finish.
In the second race Rothbauer and his perfectly prepared Honda CRF450R got off to another strong start, yet with 20 other riders all cramming into the first turn seemly at the same time, he was again pushed into fifth place. Rothbauer fought through the brutally slippery conditions, pushing the riders in front of him the entire way and finished with another strong fifth place.
In Class S Open Wedenig had his chance to highlight some of the motocross skills he brought with him to the team. Wedenig got the hole-shot in race one, but the slippery conditions proved too much and he went down, dropping him back to 15th place. Wedenig immediately got things righted and for the next 20 minutes he put on a show by passing one rider after another until he finished 7th overall.
The second race started off nearly perfect again for Wedenig, until a rider in front of him crashed taking him down as well. This time Wedenig found himself back in 13th position, and once again the exciting chase was on. Wedenig once more displayed his off-road prowess as he battled all the way up into a fifth place finish.
After the opening rounds Team Honda Austria Press Coordinator Claudia Rothbauer remarked, "Conditions were very tricky, but it was the same for everybody. This year we will have seven events with 14 races overall, so it was very important for us to keep the risk to a minimum. But, now we definitely know that our Honda CRF450R's very competitive overall. We didn't make the podium this time, but we proved we are capable of getting there real soon."
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