Indian celebrated yesterday after blasting away the competition in the first Essenza sprint race contest of the year.
Taking place on the Autodrome Linas-Montlhéry in front of thousands attending the Café Racer Festival, Katja Poensgen, the popular and well-liked German motorcycle racer showed she could cut it in sprint racing too.
The Essenza sprint races operate on a knockout system; you lose your race, you don’t go through. The first round of sprints halves the competitors down from 16 to eight, then down to four and then two for the final.
A draw was held on Sunday morning to decide the first set of races and Katja found herself with the number 13 (unlucky for some) and up against Mai Lin Senf, another female German racer on a Yamaha XV950 called ‘Dragger’.
After comfortably winning against Dragger, Katja’s second race was against Mathie Menard on a Triumph Street Twin built by FCR Original and called ‘Alienor’.
With ‘Alienor’ beaten, Katja then faced ‘V-Track 1000’ ridden by Amir Brajan and built by Mellow Yellow Motorcycles for a place in the final. By this point, the crowd was roaring as Katja blasted through the chequered flag with her blonde hair whipping out the back of her helmet.
The final then saw Katja up against a formidable machine, namely Café Racer Magazine’s entry, a very powerful Triumph Thruxton R built by Triumph Rouen and ridden by Jérome Savary.
A pause in the action before the final allowed the Essenza compère to gee up the crowds and build up the tension for an exciting final sprint.
As the yellow flag dropped, the Triumph made the most noise, but Katja pulled ahead, gaining her lead in the second half of the 1/8th mile taking Indian and the Young Guns to a solid win.
Going into the race, the Young Guns knew their Indian Scout had serious power; Nik and Fabian had trimmed 48kg off the Scout’s 245kg weight to bring it down to 197kg, and in dyno testing, at Polaris Swissauto they saw a steady 185HP after two days of fettling and tweaking.
Nik Heer said: “I am extremely happy. We were confident before the race because the way we treated it on the dyno was the worst you could do to a bike. Today it was so cool, everybody expected our own guy Marco Zesiger to ride, so when people heard Katja was racing it, everybody was like ‘Whoah, that’s serious racing’.”
Katja was thrilled with her win and even more astounded by the cheering and support she received from the French crowd. “I want to say that for me it’s a very special win and the bike is great,” she said. “I was not sure on the way here what to expect from the Indian Scout, but I am really impressed. It was very easy to ride and everything worked so well, from the seat position to the power to the brakes, it was perfect. I’m happy for Indian, the Young Guns and for myself.”
Katrin Oeding, organizer of the Essenza races said: “I think it was really crazy today. I first saw Miracle Mike in Basel and for me it was surprising. I know the previous designs from the Young Guns before, but it was incredible what they did with the Scout. Technology and design has to be in balance, and on Miracle Mike, it’s a real tension. The other thing is taste and fashion, it’s not retro, it’s now. It’s a new inspiration and that’s what I love really much. All people that are a part of Essenza like to make something new, not a copy.”
Uwe Ehinger, the technical director of Essenza was enthused by all 16 of the entries this weekend: “We have such a different set of bikes, but it’s a simple formula to work out who competes against each other. It’s a very nice event because of the simple rules, it’s fun and we like to bring back the philosophy of pure riding. What’s important is that Indian is really back now and it can now continue in design and competition. It’s begun to be successful again and its heritage is so sweet too.”
Miracle Mike’s next appearance will be in the Punks Peak race on the Friday at the Wheels & Waves festival (which Indian Motorcycle is sponsoring).
Punks Peak at Wheels & Waves is run on the GI-3440 mountain road near San Sebastian.
The second Essenza sprint race will take place in September at Glemseck 101 event in Germany near Stuttgart. The overall winner is the fastest to compete in both races.