World Superbike Teams including Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport and BMW Motorrad Italia completed their 2011 test program with three days of work in Portimão, Portugal. Teams participating in the FIM Superbike World Championship are not allowed to test between December 1 and January 15, 2012 which put added pressure for teams to gather as much data as they could. This information will now form the basis for the work to be carried out over the coming weeks at each squad’s home bases. Teams arrived in Portimão to find ideal working conditions — mainly sunny weather and mild temperatures over 70 degrees F (20˚C).
BMW Motorrad Motorsport Factory Riders Leon Haslam (GBR) and Marco Melandri (ITA) were joined this time by BMW Motorrad test and development rider Steve Martin (AUS). Marco posted the unofficial best time (1:42.4 minutes) at this test.
The team had an extensive program to get through in Portimão. They worked on set-up of the new engine spec of the 2012 version of the BMW S1000RR. These will now be refined on the dynamic testing rig in Munich. Modifications were made to the gearbox as well. In terms of the chassis, the team tested various components, including new swingarms and base set-ups. The modified BMW electronics were further optimized and the team managed to further improve the handling of the RR. New brake components were also tested successfully. The team also worked on the aerodynamics, weight distribution and ergonomics.
“I am very happy. It was very good to come back to Portimão and set constantly quick lap times on this track, on which we were not so competitive last season,” said BMW Motorrad factory rider Leon Haslam. “This shows that we have taken a really good step forward, particularly in regard to the engine characteristic and the electronics. We also found very good settings with the new chassis. The team will now use the coming two months to prepare everything for Australia. If we continue in this direction, everything is looking good for Phillip Island. I will now return to England and have an intensive fitness program with my trainer lined up for December and January. And I am really excited about the birth of our first child very soon.”
“We had ideal weather and test conditions at both the tests in Jerez and Portimão. As such, we were able to get through a comprehensive workload with our riders,” said BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Bernhard Gobmeier. “We tested most of the topics we had on our list. We were able to further optimize all areas of the 2012 version of the RR and will now focus on fine-tuning over the coming weeks in Munich and Stephanskirchen. In general, I can say that we look forward optimistically to go to Phillip Island in February. I am also pretty happy with our newly assembled race team. The cooperation is working excellently, both from a technical and human point of view. It is a very harmonious and creative working environment. The entire team has gelled together brilliantly within a very short space of time.”
The BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team began work towards the 2012 season with the two Italian riders working with a hybrid bike configuration. By adding some 2012 parts to their 2011 S1000RR, Ayrton Badovini was immediately fast. Michel Fabrizio, meanwhile, was becoming more familiar with the new bike and concentrated on set-up.
The favorable weather conditions at the Portuguese circuit allowed the BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike team to carry out a significant amount of work. Monday was devoted to testing new components, especially in terms of reliability, and while not making changes to the bike it was important to verify that everything worked. On day two the team worked on various set-ups and balance. Extremes were also tested to gain an understanding of response from the bike to the changes. Finally, on the third day, efforts were focused on new electronics management software which was ready just in time for this test. The best lap times at the end of the three days were 1:42.5 for Ayrton Badovini and 1:43.3 for Michel Fabrizio.
“It was love at first sight! With the new bike, I immediately felt at ease. It’s easy to ride and I like it a lot” said Ayrton. “In these initial tests we have worked hard on the balance and we tried some new chassis set-ups and electronics options. The result was good because we have always been in touch with the front runners and this bodes well for next season in which we want to reap the fruits of the work done so far. The team worked very well, both back at the factory and here, and the results can be seen. ”
On his second outing with BMW, and the first time on the new 2012 bike, Michel Fabrizio said it was “a very positive test.” “We tried everything we could on the bike, without focusing too much on lap times. In particular we focused on suspension set-up, forks and swingarm, and the bike always responded as expected. Overall I like the bike. I have not tried for out and out fastest times because I chose to focus on learning the bike at this test.”
After the conclusion of the testing, Serafino Foti, sports director of BMW Motorrad Italy Superbike Team, commented: “This test was used to verify that all the work done in recent months was positive. We have focused on new components we have developed based on this year’s data, working on critical areas that we had identified. Overall, it appears that everything is positive. It’s clear that three days of testing are not enough to define the configuration of the 2012 bike, but I’d say we’re pretty satisfied because it seems to go better than the 2011 version already. Before the start of the season we still have five days of testing remaining and we will try to get the most out of them, weather permitting. The weather was mild and we were able to work steadily. Ayrton focused on the different types of chassis set up and mapping the electronics. For Michel it was slightly different, because we focused on him feeling comfortable and learning the bike in anticipation of him doing more at the next test. His previously injured right arm proved to be a problem again and we need to conduct medical tests to evaluate necessary treatment.”
Before the official start of the FIM Superbike World Championship season on February 26, 2012 in Phillip Island, Australia, the teams will conduct two more tests at this venue: from February 13-15 and at the official Infront Test on February 20-21.