After testing a Ducati MotoGP bike last year in Valencia, seven time world champion Michael Schumacher again proved he was almost as fast on two wheels as he was on four, when he finished third in a bike race, held at the Hungarian track of Pannonia-Ring on Thursday.
Although the majority of the 27 bikers who entered the 10-lap race were enthusiastic amateurs, 39-year-old Schumacher faced some tough competition, as his teammate at the Holzhauer Racing Promotion team was none other than 2007 IDM (Internationale Deutsche Motorradmeisterschaft) Superbike Champion Martin Bauer. An other IDM rider, Andy Meklau, was also on the grid.
Schumacher, apparently competing just for fun, and wearing his orange overalls and black helmet familiar from the Ducati tests, arrived at the Pannonia-Ring, a 4,740 metres long track near the Hungarian village of Ostffyasszonyfa, late afternoon on Wednesday.
He then completed only a handful of laps, but went on to claim pole position for the race on Thursday, although it has to be noted the professional IDM riders' bikes didn't have timing transponders and were relegated to the back of the grid.
Instead of starting from pole, Schumacher - riding an 1000 ccm Honda Superbike - decided to join them on the last row, but then made his way up the field to finish third behind fellow Honda racer Bauer and Meklau, who was on a Suzuki. All three competed in the 600+ ccm category.
Schumacher's best lap of 2:01.309 was about six seconds slower compared to what his professional rivals were capable of, but was still 0.6 seconds quicker than anyone else could manage in the course of the race.
Although Schumacher's presence was mostly unexpected, some 250-300 people still turned up to watch the race. But they were left a bit disappointed when their hero, shying away from making a public appearance, decided not to attend the podium ceremony.