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In optimum weather conditions, the ADAC Northern Europe Cup riders lined up for the first race of the season which was held on Sunday afternoon in the framework of the Superbike World Championship. In an exciting contest over 13 laps, Dirk Geiger (14, GER) and Ernst Dubbink (28, NED) emerged triumphant in the Standard and GP classes respectively, thereby taking an immediate lead in the standings on this first of eleven race weekends.
To the delight of competitors and fans alike, Nicky Hayden presented the trophies to the winners in the ADAC Northern Europe Cup. The former MotoGP World Champion, who is riding with the Red Bull Honda World Superbike team this season, watched the race attentively and was full of praise for the juniors after the ceremony: "That was a great race!"
Narrow result in the Standard class
After a magnificent start, Geiger was up with the GP riders for the entire duration of the race, bravely hanging on near the front. The ADAC Sport Foundation protégé and defending champion in the Standard class fought hard to the last lap, when the pursuing bunch at last managed to close the gap, and won by the narrow margin of just 0.151 seconds.
Toni Erhard (16, GER) as the sixth-fastest Standard rider started from twelfth but mounted the strongest charge of the day to take the runner-up spot in a photo finish, just 0.009 seconds ahead of third-placed Philipp Freitag (19, GER). Jeffrey Buis (15, NED) and Rick Dunnik (15, NED) completed the Top Five.
GP class characterised by thrilling duels
After a brilliant start, pole-setter Tim Georgi (16, GER) took a tumble on the second lap. Meanwhile, Ernst Dubbink (28, NED) was making spectacular progress through the field, having started from a lowly 15th. The Dutchman delighted the home fans by taking the lead on the final lap and securing victory in the GP class by the wafer-thin margin of 0.162 seconds ahead of Kevin Orgis (17, GER).
Sasha de Vits (15, BEL) completed the podium party. The young Belgian had led the race into the fourth lap, but was then passed by wildcard rider Maximilian Kofler (16, AUT). In an exciting battle for the podium, Kofler eventually missed out by less than two tenths of a second. Jan-Ole Jähnig (16, GER) took the chequered flag in fifth place.
The second fixture of the season is scheduled for the Motorsport Arena at Oschersleben in three weeks' time (19th - 21st May) when it will be part of the programme for the World Endurance Championship.
Comments from the riders:
Dirk Geiger (14, GER), winner, ADAC NEC Standard: "That was a great race! I was able to keep up with the riders in the GP class and even crossed the finish line ahead of some of them, which makes me very proud. On the straights, they always pulled away, but I'm quite good on the brakes and came back at them on the corners. The wind was pretty strong early on, but I got used to it, and since our field of riders was so tightly bunched, it didn't push me off line. I am delighted with this victory, and I've already taken the first step towards defending my title."
Toni Erhard (16, GER), second, ADAC NEC Standard: "After my start went reasonably well, I found myself in the middle of a big group, I got held up at the first corner and fell back a bit. But I then managed to work my way forward quite well. I guess the wind played a big part in this, because the other riders were very close together, which made overtaking easier, and also the lap times were a little slower. That meant I was able to close the gap on the front group again and eventually challenge the top riders. On the penultimate lap, I made a mistake which allowed Philipp to come past. Luckily, I was able to overtake him again. Second place is a good start to the season and one I think we can build on."
Philipp Freitag (19, GER), third, ADAC NEC Standard: "I have to admit that I'm not totally satisfied, because I only narrowly missed out on second place. Right from the start, I had problems keeping up with Dirk, because he was in among the GP riders from Lap 1 onwards. I was in second place most of the time until Toni caught me up and we then went on a charge to catch up the leading group. I even got past Dirk, but I misbraked in the last chicane, as a result of which Dirk and Toni were able to overtake me. The race itself was fantastic, and a podium in the opener is not to be sniffed at. In any case, I am definitely satisfied with my performance."
Ernst Dubbink (18, NED), winner, ADAC NEC GP: "Assen is my home track. Yesterday in the second qualifying session, we had some technical difficulties, which meant I had to start from way back in 15th. My start was good, and I was in ninth place by the end of the first lap. After a few wheel-to-wheel encounters, I was up to P4. Unfortunately, I then had contact with another rider, which briefly knocked me off the track. So, I then had to catch up again from P9. I worked my way forward to P6 and then bided my time before attacking again a couple of laps later. I was gaining places lap after lap, and on the final lap, I moved up from P3 to take first place. It was obviously a fantastic feeling and something I hadn't expected after yesterday's qualifying. But you should never say never!"
Kevin Orgis (17, GER), second, ADAC NEC GP: "That was a different race from the ones that went before. My start was not so good, so I had to fight hard to get back to the front. I was fortunate enough to rejoin the leading bunch. We were battling hard with each other and there was a constant jostling for position. The wind was extremely strong, but it eased off towards the end, and from that point onwards, I had to vary my braking points and adapt to the changed conditions. I succeeded in doing that quite well. Unfortunately, though, I didn't have enough in reserve to get past Ernst. But I'm still very satisfied with second place in the season opener."
Sasha de Vits (15, BEL), third, ADAC NEC GP: "I got off to a very good start, and I was immediately part of the leading group. I actually led the race for a few laps. Three laps before the end, I was battling with Kevin Orgis, but then on the last lap, Ernst overtook me, which was completely unexpected. I tried to get past him again, but it didn't really work out. Even so, I'm satisfied with third place."