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Ice race Krumbach – a very special race in the snow
Ice race Krumbach
A very special race in the snow
Every winter an icy meadow near the small town of Krumbach in Vorarlberg becomes the venue for a very special ice race: great fun for the spectators, a treacherous and dangerous challenge for the drivers.
December 21, 2011
It’s lukewarm on this Saturday morning in Krumbach, an Austrian nest of 990 souls between Bregenz and Oberstdorf. It’s January 29, 2011, and some of the members of the Off Roader team, the organizers of the event, have the hardships of last night written on their faces. “At the warm-up party, we voted for the Miss Ice Girl for the first time in history,” says Roman Fink, chief of the Off Roader, and rubs his head. The “history” of the currently 37 strong interest group goes back to 2005. At that time, 25 motorsport enthusiasts came together to organize a moped and minicross race. And because it went really well, they applied to be the organizer of the ice races known in the foothills of the Alps. The first event of this kind took place in January 2006, today the “International Ice Race Krumbach” is known far beyond the borders of Austria and will take place on January 6th and 7th, 2012 for the seventh time. Provided the weather cooperates. The races can only be held if it has been freezing cold for weeks and is also on the race weekend.
The route is specially built for this event: For several days, tractors with huge water trailers spin and spray the water in a high arc on the meadow. To the layperson, this type of ice cream production sounds simple. Roman Fink, on the other hand, speaks of a workload that should not be underestimated. “The quality of the ice doesn’t just depend on the temperature.
Fresh snow must be completely cleared before each watering. Otherwise there is no bond, ”he says. “And after every watering, the ice has to harden for two days before you add more water.”
The conditions are perfect on this foggy day in January. The thermometer shows minus ten degrees, the ice is around 40 centimeters thick and the starting field counts 108 daredevils. 40 of them are motorcyclists. The rest of them want to cope with the 700 meter long route in different classes with buggies, quads and cars of all types. The races in Krumbach are considered to be spectator-friendly, as a large part of the icy circuit, named Moosbachring, can be seen from a slope. And in contrast to many other ice races in the region, they are considered to be demanding, because here it is not just a flat, icy meadow that is peppered with a few straw-shaped chicanes. The Moosbachring claims its victims with a gradient, jumping hills and a steep slope.
“You have to accept falls,” says Markus Schertler, who competes on his Kawasaki KX 450. The 31-year-old amateur enduro driver from Dornbirn normally drives eight-hour races and took an impressive 87th place at the notorious Erzberg Rodeo. For him, the ice race is both winter fun and a training opportunity. Just like for Christian Muxel from Wolfurt, who doesn’t think he has a great chance of getting onto the podium with his KTM 450 SX.
“I’ve been driving supermoto for two years, just for fun.” Driving on ice has a lot in common with this driving style. “You have to try to have as little weight as possible on the rear wheel and to slide,” says the 28-year-old. Krumbach will be his second ice race ever.
Caution: If you fall, you will be perforated – the take-offs in particular are dangerous.
The conditions of participation are very simple: Anyone with a valid driver’s license is allowed to ride. In each of the two qualifying runs on Saturday, the personal best lap will be timed. It ultimately decides in which group the driver will compete. With 40 starters, the 20 fastest form the first group. This is also where Markus will start with his KX 450: He took first and third place in the qualifying runs – while Christian asserts himself in midfield and will therefore fight for victory in the second group.
Sunday, beautiful sunshine, minus five degrees. Another party in the marquee has left its mark. The track was smoothed overnight, but after the morning’s training runs it is already insidious again at noon. “You have to completely rely on your feeling when driving,” says Markus. “All the wheels with their spikes mill an infinite number of deep grooves. And you don’t see it, because everything is white – the snow, the ice, the grooves. ”Christian also struggles with it:“ Once you thread into an ice groove, you won’t be able to get out anytime soon. You have to cross the lines extremely. ”Another problem is the different grip ratios. The tires grip better on hard ice than on the ice powder that the spikes churn up. “The classic ideal line doesn’t exist here,” says Christian. And Markus adds: “You don’t even have to start drifting like in the speedway. Because you don’t make a meter in a drift. ”He implements this knowledge perfectly, because he comes third in each of the three races. “On the straights you have clear advantages with the 450 also on the ice, in the chicanes the 250 are faster because they are more agile,” he sums up. With that everything is clear to him. Christian finished seventh in his group. Despite a few bruises, both are hot for the next ice cream in January 2012.
The Off Roader team from the Bregenz Forest has scheduled January 6th and 7th as the date. The only question is whether the weather will cooperate and whether it will be cold.
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