The BMW Motorrad Goldbet SBK Team finished off the podium in both races at “Circuit de Nevers, Magny-Cours” near the French towns of Magny-Cours and Nevers. At the 13th round of the 2013 FIM Superbike World Championship, factory rider Marco Melandri (ITA) finished fifth and seventh while teammate Chaz Davies (GBR) retired in the first race and finished seventh in the second on their BMW S1000RRs. With Tom Sykes (GBR) winning both races, and only one race to go, the BMW team can no longer win the championship.
The team got off to a strong start on Friday with Chaz qualifying third on the provisional front row in Friday’s first qualifying practice. Marco finished eighth after three outings in the qualifying practice, improving his lap time on each outing. In the morning’s free practice, the track was wet following overnight rainfall. Chaz posted the third fastest time as the track was drying towards the end of the session while Marco opted to remain in the garage after his outing and was therefore eighteenth.
It wasn’t a particularly easy Saturday for either factory rider. In the morning’s second qualifying practice, Marco was fastest in wet conditions while Chaz was 13th. Due to the conditions, riders did not improve their times from Friday’s dry session and the ranking remained the same. Having taken third and eighth respectively in the dry session on Friday, Chaz and Marco secured their place in Superpole.
The circuit was wet come 3pm local time so a wet Superpole was declared meaning there would be two 20-minute sessions instead of three staggered sessions. In Superpole 1, Marco went out on intermediate tires and Chaz on wets. After setting the 13th fastest time, Chaz came into the pits to switch to intermediates. Chaz finished the first session in fifth and Marco in sixth, meaning they’d both progress to the next session.
The track had largely dried for the second session and both riders went straight out on slick tires. With nine minutes to go, Chaz and Marco entered the pits for their first qualifying tire. On their first attempt with qualifying tires Chaz was fourth and Marco fifth. Both riders pitted for their second qualifying tire with four minutes remaining. In the end Marco and Chaz qualified in seventh and eighth position respectively and would start the races from the third row.
In the first Superbike race, both riders had a good start from the third row. Marco improved to fourth and Chaz to fifth. On the second lap, Chaz lost the front and came back to the pit to fix the bike but had to retire. Marco then slipped back to fifth position where he remained until the end of the race. The race was red flagged with three laps to go and Tom Sykes (GBR) took the win.
“In race one the crash was strange, I was off the brakes but lost the front slightly and I couldn’t recover it,” said Chaz. “I slid for ages and tried to get back up as I was holding the bike but in the end there was nothing I could do. I picked up the bike but there was a lot of dirt in the throttle so it was too dangerous to continue once we’d got back to the pits.”
In race two both BMW riders made again a good start with Marco moving to fourth and Chaz to sixth. At the beginning of the second lap, Chaz overtook Marco and began to battle with Davide Giugliano (ITA). Marco got back past Chaz on lap six to take fifth, however he then ran on into the gravel losing a lot of time and rejoining in sixteenth. While Chaz was fifth again and kept this position until the end, Marco showed a strong recovery. He had good rhythm setting more than 10 laps within the 1’39 bracket and managed to make his way up to eighth place. Towards the end of the race, Marco passed Toni Elias (SPA) for seventh. The race was stopped with two laps remaining after several riders crashed as it started to rain. Tom Sykes won race two.
“In race one I was struggling with the setting and I was not really fast, the result shows the potential I had,” said Marco. “Before race two we decided to make a step back and setting up the bike so I could be consistent. Without that issue I could have been on the podium. At least I can say that I had more fun in race two than in race one. I was fast and overtook many riders to recover from the position which I slipped down to.”
Andrea Buzzoni (General Manager BMW Motorrad WSBK) said: “In race one of the Superbike class Chaz unfortunately crashed while Marco was fifth and almost the contrary in race two where Marco went wide losing his position meaning he could not fight at the front, even if he demonstrated to be fast, while Chaz was fifth. Today Sykes was outstanding and I want to congratulate him for his performance. Today’s result ended our possibilities to win the title, nevertheless it was not a bad season but we can fully assess this after Jerez.”