The BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team had a dramatic and difficult Sunday at the “TT Circuit” in Assen, Netherlands for the third round of the FIM Superbike World Championship. Factory rider Chaz Davies (GBR) finished seventh and fifth after crashing during the morning’s warm-up. His BMW S1000RR was so badly damaged that the team had to repair the rolling chassis for the races. His teammate Marco Melandri (ITA) had even more bad luck: a technical issue stopped him in the warm-up lap for race one. In race two, the Italian finished eighth.
Assen greeted the riders with typically unpredictable Dutch weather. When teams and riders prepared for the third round of the 2013 season on Thursday, there was some sunshine with mild temperatures, but as teams got to work on Friday, it rained and temperatures dropped under 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). Marco rode to fourth place in the wet first qualifying practice of the afternoon. Chaz, meanwhile, was 14th after crashing halfway through the session. Chaz was on course for a lap time within the top 5 when he lost the rear of his RR and slid into the gravel. After the bike was repaired, Chaz went out on the track again in the closing stages of the session but did not improve on his time. In the free practice at noon, also under wet conditions, Marco and Chaz were third and fourth respectively.
Both Marco and Chaz opted for race tires on their BMW S1000RRs for their first outing in Superpole 1 on Saturday. Marco was fifth fastest with his first flying lap, his time was good enough for him to qualify for Superpole 2. Chaz was already struggling in Superpole 1 and was eighth fastest. He tried to improve his time with a second outing but directly returned to the pits reporting technical issues. He dropped back to 13th meaning his Superpole qualifying was over. “As soon as I left the pits I could feel that something wasn’t quite right,” said Chaz. “I tried to do one quick lap but in the end it was not good enough to get me through to Superpole 2. I am not sure what the problem was, the guys are looking into it now. Obviously I am very disappointed because it is not easy to pass at Assen and it is going to be two very difficult races tomorrow.
In Superpole 2, Marco opted for the qualifying tire and only had to complete one flying lap to comfortably progress to the last and deciding session. In Superpole 3, Marco used his second qualifying tire. He was sitting in sixth position, putting him on the second row until the last seconds of the session but then dropped one position. Therefore he would start from seventh place on the third row on the grid.
Unfortunately, Chaz crashed during warm-ups before race one. The squad did not have much time to build up the rolling chassis. Chaz’s crew was supported by Marco’s crew, who stood in to help as soon as they had completed the race preparation on Marco’s RR. With their joint efforts they succeeded in getting the #19 RR ready for race one, though Chaz had to start from the last row. With the first race getting underway, drama continued for the team. In the warm-up lap, Marco was stopped by a part failure in the final drive and was forced to roll off the track and onto the grass. The race was over for him before it actually began. It is as yet unclear what caused the failure. The part is currently at the supplier for analysis. Chaz meanwhile started his catch-up, charging his way forward through the field. After lap one he was already in 11th and gained more positions as the race unfolded. He crossed the line in seventh, collecting important points.
“The day started very badly with the crash in the morning,” said Chaz. “The track temperature was still very low and I lost the front. I did not think that the crash was that big but the bike must have tumbled quite a lot and it was really badly damaged. It was frustrating to destroy a bike like that in the warm-up. A big credit to the team who did an amazing job building up a brand new bike for the race. As it was a new bike I did not expect big things. I was just hoping to get some points so to finish seventh was a reason to be happy.”
In race two, both riders made a good start, with Marco improving from eighth to fifth and Chaz from 13th to ninth. But Marco was struggling to keep this position and dropped back. After nine laps, he was back in 11th while Chaz continued his way forward, being sixth at that time. On the last lap, Chaz gained another position, crossing the line in fifth. Marco also worked his way back forward and finished the race in eighth.
“It was an awful weekend and today, it was an unlucky day,” said Marco. “In race one I did not even start, while in race 2 it seemed that a sensor failed so the bike could not work with the right electronic strategies. I had to slow down for a couple of laps to understand what was going on and what the problem was. Once I understood how to manage the situation I returned to my race pace and completed the race. Now we need to understand what does not work and to solve the problem. My aim is to rediscover the riding pleasure, to fight for the podium and to win again.”
The winners at the third round of the 2013 FIM Superbike World Championship were Tom Sykes (GBR) and Eugene Laverty (IRL). In the Riders’ classification, Chaz, Laverty and Sykes are on equal points behind leader Sylvain Guintoli (FRA), all having 83 points in their tally. Due to the race results, Chaz is classified third behind Laverty. Marco sits in eighth with 51 points. In the Manufacturers’ classification, BMW lies in second with 99 points.
FIM Superstock 1000 Cup
Assen also hosts the second round of the 2013 FIM Superstock 1000 Cup. The BMW Motorrad GoldBet STK Team had issues with the conditions with Sylvain Barrier having a minor crash in qualifying. The difficult conditions did give the team a chance to fine tune the new HP4’s electronics. Serafino Foti, Sport Director BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team, explains, “It was the first time we have tested the new electronic damping system DDC in wet conditions. We have to work a lot to understand how to make it work properly in these conditions. Sylvain had a fall, but he is well and I am glad about that.”
In the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup race, Sylvain Barrier finished second on the podium. In a dramatic finish, the Frenchman was beaten by winner Eddi La Marra (ITA) by only 0.023 seconds. In the overall classification, Sylvain extended his lead to nine points, having collected 45 points in total at the first two rounds of the season. His teammate Greg Gildenhuys (RSA) had to retire early in the race due to a technical issue.