The BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team experienced a turbulent race day at Silverstone in Great Britain, venue of the ninth round of the 2013 FIM Superbike World Championship. The day saw unpredictable weather conditions, high hopes to finish on the podium and a difficult end for the team. Factory rider and local hero Chaz Davies (GBR) fought for the victory in race two but had to retire for a technical issue. In race one he finished tenth after a strong start. His teammate Marco Melandri (ITA) crossed the line in ninth in both races and collected more important points with his BMW S1000RR.
The weekend started with dry conditions on Friday with Marco finishing the first qualifying practice in eighth while Chaz was 12th. “Today was not too easy. We are at a bumpy track again. We started our work with the set-up we were successful with in Russia, but it seems that these settings are not ideal for bumps so we need to go away from that and find something that works on this surface and also something that helps us to find more grip as it is bumpy and slippery here,” said Chaz.
It was a difficult Saturday for the Team but it ended in a kind of a conciliatory manner. The day began according to plan with the team continuing the preparation work in the morning’s second qualifying practice. But during the free practice session in the early afternoon, luck changed for the squad. Chaz was forced back to the garage with a mechanical issue and lost a lot of track time. Marco crashed and had to be taken to the medical center but fortunately he suffered only minor injuries and was ready to start in the following Superpole qualifying.
However, Marco was only able to do one flying lap before he had to stop beside the track because of a mechanical issue. Consequently, Superpole was over for him and he had to settle for 15th position. Chaz meanwhile did two outings in the first part of the session. For the second one he used qualifying tires and set the best time to progress to the next session. He made it through Superpole 2 into the final and deciding third session by using his other qualifying tire. In Superpole 3, Chaz tried to do his best on race tires, when the session was red flagged as it started to rain in parts of the track. The modus was changed to a “wet Superpole” of 20 minutes for those nine riders who had qualified for Superpole 3. Conditions were changing during this session but towards the end the track dried again and with three minutes to go, the riders went out again to battle a final showdown for the grid positions with Chaz putting in the sixth fastest time.
Sunday’s first Superbike race was delayed by 20 minutes for safety reasons as light rain started to fall just as the riders were preparing on the grid. Conditions were mostly dry when the race – shortened to 17 laps – started. Chaz, who started from sixth, was fighting within the leading group in the early stages, setting his sights on a podium position, but he dropped back later. Marco meanwhile had improved to the top 10 after having started from 15th. From lap six on, drops of rain fell all over the circuit, making the conditions difficult to judge. From that moment on there were many position changes throughout the field. After 17 tricky laps, Marco and Chaz finished ninth and tenth respectively.
Race two turned out to be another thriller with Chaz as one of the protagonists. In the close group of frontrunners, he had amazing battles with his competitors for the victory and podium positions, temporarily taking the lead. But Chaz’ hopes for a victory or podium on home soil ended on lap 15 when he was stopped by a technical issue with the engine. Shortly after, the race was red flagged as it started to rain again and two riders crashed out. Marco improved from 15th to eighth during the opening stages of the race, but then went wide and dropped back to 14th. He tried to work his way back towards the front and finished ninth in the end.
“To start from the back of the grid is really not easy,” said Marco. “In race one, in dry conditions, I was quite fast, but in some turns I had some vibrations which didn’t allow me to go at a constantly fast rhythm over the course of a lap. Then the weather changed and in the long turns I was not able to keep the right temperature of the tires. I preferred not to risk anything and to get the best possible result limiting the damage.
“Race two, unfortunately, did not go very well. After a couple of laps, while I was gaining positions, I went wider and I lost contact to the riders in front. I tried to attack once more but I had many vibrations and I was not able to ride well. Luckily I didn’t lose many points from the leader in the rankings. The break before the race weekend at Nürburgring will help us to take a rest and to enable us to start the final part of the season in the best way.”
Chaz added, “Race one was not too bad in the beginning. My pace was good and even if I was not completely happy with the bike, we were there lying in fourth, right in the group. So that was okay. Then the rain started and I was struggling to judge the conditions. I had a couple of slides on the side of the tire off the gas which made me a little bit cautious. Then in certain times the race came to me but the rain started to make it difficult.
“In race two we were doing what we could do and I tried to get the victory. The bike was a bit better than in race one for stability in the rear. Then in the end it started to rain again and this played a part but at this point we were still in the hunt to win the race. Then I had the issue with the engine. It was frustrating. It would have been nice to at least be on the podium at my home round but unfortunately we did not have a great day today.”
The races were won by Jonathan Rea (GBR) and Loris Baz (FRA). After nine rounds of the 2013 season, Marco is fourth in the riders’ championship with 221 points, 41 points off the lead. Chaz follows directly behind in fifth with 180 points. In the Manufacturers’ classification, BMW is currently third with 276 points.
FIM Superstock 1000 Cup
In the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup – unusually – two races were held over the weekend. Sylvain Barrier (FRA) started with his BMW HP4 from pole position. In a morning race he had to take part in a close fight against his competitors to celebrate his first victory of the day. In race two, he managed to build a gap to the rest of the field and secured the win again, his fifth of the season. His BMW Motorrad GoldBet STK teammate Greg Gildenhuys (RSA), who was racing at Silverstone for the first time, finished 14th and 12th. In the Riders’ classification, Sylvain has now 145 points and has extended his lead to 36 points. In the Manufacturers’ classification, BMW is leading with 156 points.