F1 » 21 July 2009
Heidfeld samples superbike at BMW Fan Day.
Although he has no stated intention of following in the footsteps of countryman Michael Schumacher in swapping four wheels for two on a regular basis, Nick Heidfeld could not conceal his excitement at getting to try Troy Corser's BMW S 1000 RR superbike during the company's Fan Day.
The German got the chance to sample his Australian stable-mate's mount at the Nurburgring over the weekend as the highlight of an exclusive event for fans and partners of the BMW Sauber F1 team. While respective team-mates Robert Kubica and Ruben Xaus demonstrated their regular machines to more than 700 assembled guests, Heidfeld and Corser swapped seats, giving the double WSBK champion more than 700hp on four wheels in exchange for around 200hp on two.
Despite his apparent drop in power, however, Heidfeld enthused about his chance to try BMW's first attempt at a contemporary competition superbike.
"It was a sensational experience," the 32-year old bubbled, "I already had lots of fun practising on the street bike in the morning, and managed to score the first scrapes into the knee area of my racing suit. That was inevitable and, of course, I wanted to touch the ground while cornering on the racing machine as well - and I came up trumps there too.
"I had expected the superbike to be a huge leap over the production version, a bit like series cars and racers, but I was surprised in the end. The difference is huge - on the one hand, the superbike is more aggressive, builds up more grip and has the superior brakes but, on the other hand, it is easier to ride because you can control it so well. The handling is very precise.
"Obviously I'm still miles from the limit with the superbike - I would love to have done a lot more laps."
Corser was likewise impressed by the marque's F1 car, branding his outing 'just awesome'.
"The car feels so balanced and the brakes are fantastic, the tyres have unbelievable grip and the steering is very direct but still has a lot of feeling," he reported, "I can't believe how hard and late you can brake. I know I was braking too early and I really would like to have a day or two with the car to really see what I can do with it. I'd like to thank everybody involved in giving me this opportunity - and I hope I can do it again."
Kubica, meanwhile, steered the F1 machine around the short version of the Nürburgring, while Xaus let rip on his BMW S 1000 RR before getting the chance to sample the BMW 320si WTCC car. Regular pilots Augusto Farfus, Jörg Müller and Sergio Hernández - along with seasoned Nürburgring connoisseur Claudia Hürtgen - played taxi driver in the WTCC car, the BMW M3 GT4 and the BMW M5 Ring Taxi, while guests were allowed to get behind the wheel of BMW M3 and Formula BMW cars.
"Looking at the BMW Motorsport fleet is quite impressive," the Pole admitted, "If someone locked me up at a race track with all these toys, I would have lots of fun."
In addition to the track activities, autograph sessions and shop talk, guests were also offered the chance to win rides around the Nürburgring - both as passenger and driver - as well as signed items of racing gear and original vehicle components.
"In these difficult times, we are indebted to our partners and fans," BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen stressed, "It's really good to feel this support. It's easy to accept the accolades, and we've had plenty of them over recent years, but we must not let the dialogue falter when things get tough."
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