On a dramatic and rain-hit fourth round of the 2012 FIM Superbike World Championship at Monza, Italy, Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport equaled its best-ever result. Factory rider Leon Haslam (GBR) finished second in the second race — the only heat held because of the weather — which was an achievement considering his 14th place start. It was also Leon’s best-ever result on the BMW S1000RR. His teammate Marco Melandri (ITA) finished fourth, but for the second time in a row, bad luck with rain prevented him from stepping on the podium. The BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet Superbike Team saw Michel Fabrizio fail to get on the grid for the start of the race while Ayrton Badovini finished tenth.
The race weekend started well with sunny and warm conditions. In the first qualifying practice four S1000RRs placed in the top five, with three of them in the first three positions on the provisional starting grid. The Bavarian bike had already shown its potential in the free practice, with Michel, Leon and Marco finishing as the top three and Ayrton in fifth position.
Both factory riders from Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport consistently rode quick lap times, with Marco being quickest and Leon being second for most of the first qualifying practice. Only in the very last minutes did Michel do one faster lap to secure the provisional pole position. Only 0.053 seconds behind, Marco qualified provisional second on the grid on his RR with Leon third.
“It was a good day for us,” said Melandri. “For Monza, we expected to be closer to the top than before, but today it actually went even better than we thought. I am not one-hundred-percent happy, because over the race distance I still have some issues with chattering. Today we tried put in as many consecutive laps as possible to understand the cause of the issue and how we can solve it. We also collected some good information for the race. Now I just hope that we have a dry race, and I also hope for good weather in the Superpole because this is a very difficult track in the wet.”
The “Autodromo Nazionale di Monza” (ITA), however, saw its usual changeable weather conditions the following day with clouds, rain showers and some sun. The Superpole was declared wet, meaning that only two sessions of 20 minutes took place and only the top eight riders of the first section qualify for the second part. Marco set the fastest time in Superpole 1, while Leon was struggling with some issues on rain tires in the difficult conditions with a drying track. At the beginning of Superpole 2, Marco set the best time again but slipped back to third during the last minutes. On a partly-wet and partly-dry track, tire choice was again a gamble. Marco’s crew chief Silvano Galbusera was missing in the garage today. After not feeling well in the morning, he underwent medical checks at a hospital. Chassis technician Peter Goddard took over his role. BMW Motorrad Italia’s rider Michel qualified 11th while Ayrton would start 13th on the grid.
Race day saw heavy showers with the first race red flagged on lap four due to rain. At that point, Leon had improved from 14th on the grid to fifth. Marco, who started third, unfortunately crashed at the end of lap one due to the tricky track conditions. His crew made a massive effort but failed to repair his RR before the restart of the race. As torrential rain started, race one was canceled due to safety reasons.
The second race started after a 25-minute delay caused by uncertainty regarding the weather conditions. After three sighting and warm-up laps, the 17-lap race started. Of those 17 only eight were completed before the red flag brought the race to an early end. Leon had fought his way up through the field and after six laps was second. He and Marco had an exciting battle against the two Aprilia riders, Eugene Laverty (GBR) and Max Biaggi (ITA). On lap nine, Marco passed Laverty for third place directly behind Leon but rain brought out the red flag. Therefore the result after the previous eighth lap counted, with Marco being classified fourth behind winner Tom Sykes (GBR), Leon and Laverty.
Due to a technical issue on the warm-up lap, BMW Motorrad Italia’s Michel Fabrizio couldn’t make it to the starting grid to take part in the race. Ayrton Badovini, who started from thirteenth on the grid, crossed the finish line in tenth place at the end of lap number eight and the premature end to the race.
As the race was not restarted, half points were awarded. In the riders’ championship, Marco improved to fourth with 72.5 points. Leon also climbed one position to sixth with 68 points. In the manufacturers’ standings BMW is now fourth with 96 points.
“It was the right decision to cancel the first race today,” said Marco. “It had rained a lot, and there are different tarmacs on the track. While the new tarmac doesn’t allow for the water to drain away, the old asphalt is different and dries up very quickly. It would have been dangerous to go out with the rain tire under those conditions. The second race went well for me. I decided not to push too hard at the beginning of the race just to get into the rhythm. I started to feel really comfortable in the lap before the red flag. I felt quite good on the bike, but unfortunately the rain came too early.”
2012 FIM Superstock 1000 Cup
Sylvain Barrier (FRA) of the BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet Team couldn’t repeat his first-place results from the first two Superstock races of the season. The Frenchman got on track for the race despite having dislocated his left shoulder last Friday. He did not give up and raced four laps with his shoulder out of place before crashing out at ‘Variante Ascari’ during lap nine, and wasting his laudable effort.
Lorenzo Baroni (ITA) didn’t get a good start from his second place on the grid and found himself in eighteenth position after the first lap. By the end of the race Lorenzo had climbed up the order to eighth place.