BMW Motorrad concluded its factory commitment in the FIM Superbike World Championship with a successful performance at Jerez, Spain. In the first race of the 2013 season finale, factory rider Marco Melandri (ITA) fought for victory until the finish line, coming home in second on his BMW S1000RR and claiming the fastest lap. Unfortunately Marco could not take part in race two due to an injured ankle. His teammate Chaz Davies (GBR) finished the last races of the year in seventh and fifth respectively. Sylvain Barrier (FRA) showed a strong World Superbike debut on a third RR of the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team. He finished 12th in race one and fought within the top 10 in race two but crashed and slipped back to 13th.
The season finale started well for the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team with qualifying on the provisional front row. In the first qualifying practice, Marco set the second fastest time despite an injury in his right ankle. “I am satisfied today,” said Marco. “It was a good first qualifying practice. I improved lap by lap and do not feel too much pain in my foot. Unfortunately I have reduced mobility and this is not helpful in fast direction changes but luckily here on this track there are only a few of them.”
Chaz meanwhile finished the session in ninth. The team entered a third BMW S1000RR for Sylvain Barrier. The Frenchman, who secured his second consecutive title in the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup at the last round at Magny-Cours was debuted in the FIM Superbike World Championship. Sylvain finished his first ever qualifying practice in the series in 16th. “I had no experience with riding a Superbike before but now the feeling is quite good… it is really different to ride with slick tires because you can put a lot of pressure in the front when you enter the corner. I am pretty happy as I am getting more and more acquainted with it and my confidence increases,” said Sylvain.
It was good and bad at the final Superpole qualifying. Despite his injured right ankle, Marco equaled his second best qualifying result of the season with fourth position and would start on the second row. Chaz struggled in the second part of Superpole and finished tenth. Superstock-1000-champion Sylvain only narrowly missed qualifying for Superpole and would start from 16th.
To give his foot a rest before Superpole, Marco did not take part in the free practice in the early afternoon. He was then the first rider to go out in Superpole 1. He only did one flying lap on race tires, set the fastest time of the session and returned to the pits. Chaz also only needed one fast lap on race tires to comfortably qualify for the second part of the Superpole. There, Marco did two laps on race tires which directly brought him to Superpole 3. Chaz also began with race tires and then did a second outing on a qualifying tires, as he needed to improve his time. But the Welshman did not benefit from the extra-grip the tires offered. He narrowly missed Superpole 3 by only a few hundredths of a second and had to settle for tenth. In the third and final session, Marco used his two qualifying tires and set the fourth fastest time.
In the first race Marco only narrowly missed the victory in race one despite his ankle. Coming from fourth on the grid he improved to third right at the start. On lap two he put in the fastest lap of the race and overtook Tom Sykes (GBR) to take second. From then on he stayed on the heels of leader Eugene Laverty (IRL). The two fought an exciting battle until the checkered flag. Marco was waiting for his chance and took it on the penultimate lap. He got past Laverty and took the lead. It was only in the final corner, when Laverty gave it another try and managed to overtake Marco. The Italian BMW rider crossed the line in second, slightly behind Laverty.
Chaz meanwhile was not happy with his race. At the start, he improved from tenth to seventh, but he could not push to gain more positions. Thus, he stayed in seventh until the finish line. Sylvain had a faultless debut race in World Superbikes. From 16th on the grid, he put in consistent laps and improved some positions, coming home in 12th.
After race one, Marco had to be treated in the Clinica Mobile again and unfortunately he could not start in the second race. Chaz improved to fifth right at the start and in the early stages he was fighting in the front group. Over the course of the race, the gaps to the front increased. Chaz stayed in fifth until the finish line. Sylvain was getting more and more confident on his RR. He fought exciting battles with some established competitors and worked his way up to ninth. On the penultimate lap he then unluckily crashed but was able to re-join and cross the line in 13th. The winner of this race was again Laverty.
“The first race was amazing,” said Marco. “I gave everything to keep Eugene’s pace. Already with five laps to go I could not ride like I wanted because I could not use my foot properly but it was quite okay thanks to the Clinica Mobile. On the penultimate lap he made a little mistake so I came close to him and could try to make a pass. It was not an easy situation because we were sliding a lot but I was in front on the last lap. Then in the last corner I thought that Eugene has nothing to lose in the championship and could give it a try so I preferred to stay inside but I braked too early. Eugene was very smart so in the end he made a nice pass on me and that was it. I was sorry for my team because I would have liked to celebrate the 100th podium of my career with a win but it was okay like this. Congratulations to Tom and Kawasaki, they had an amazing end of the season. After race one my ankle was too painful. I preferred to listen to my body and not to race. I also did not want to end my time with BMW with a bad result. The last two years were a really important time in my career. I met great people who became really close to me and ready to help me. For sure the most difficult step will be to leave them, because they loved me, and to re-start from scratch. I wish all of them the best for the future, because they are fantastic and deserve the best.”
Chaz added, “Looking back on the season I have to say that on the whole I am happy. Thanks to BMW for giving me the opportunity to win in World Superbikes more than once. I collected three victories this year and challenged at the front and got multiple podiums. So again: ‘Thank you’ to BMW and the team, it was a good year.”
In the Manufacturers’ ranking, BMW finished the season in third with 443 points. This marks the best ever season for BMW in the Superbike World Championship with the previous best score of 421 points in the 2012 being topped. In the Riders’ classification, Marco is fourth overall with 359 points. Chaz follows directly behind with 290 points. Tom Sykes won the 2013 Riders’ title and Aprilia took the Manufacturers’ championship.
FIM Superstock 1000 Cup
It was also a strong finale for BMW in the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup. Two weeks after Sylvain celebrated his second consecutive Riders’ title with the BMW HP4 of the BMW Motorrad GoldBet STK Team, the German manufacturer today also secured the Manufacturers’ title in the series.
In the first qualifying practice Markus Reiterberger qualified second on the provisional front row. The young German, who is the reigning IDM champion, took over Sylvain’s HP4 for this round. It is the first time Reiterberger has ridden this DDC equipped bike. His teammate Greg Gildenhuys (RSA) finished the session in 11th. In the second qualifying session, Markus finished sixth and would start from the second row while Greg qualified tenth.
Markus finished the final race in fifth. In doing so, he collected the points BMW Motorrad needed to stay in front of its rivals and to celebrate the Manufacturers’ crown. Greg finished 12th on the other HP4.
BMW Motorrad Prepares Race Support for the 2014 Season
With BMW Motorrad exiting direct factory sponsorship of the FIM Superbike World Championship, they are planning expanded support for their global customer racing programs in 2014. According to BMW, this includes on-site support at racing circuits for those running the BMW S1000RR and BMW HP4 in national and international series, training workshops for engineers and technicians at private teams, and special racing packages for engines and electronics. Berthold Hauser will take overall technical responsibility for the customer racing project as the new Technical Director BMW Motorrad Motorsport.
“BMW Motorrad and customer racing – they go hand in hand,” explained Stephan Schaller, President of BMW Motorrad. “To be successfully aligned as a manufacturer in the future, you have to be a strong partner for your customers. With a global approach, we will closely work together with our customers. We quite literally offer them the best riding experience – whether BMW customers on production bikes or professionals and amateurs on the racing scene. At the same time, we are able to meet all their requirements and offer comprehensive support in all areas. We are setting new benchmarks with this strategy. BMW Motorrad customer racing makes our brand and products even more dynamic and results in BMW Motorrad having a strong presence around the world.”
BMW Motorrad has been running a customer racing program for three years. In the future, BMW Motorrad customer teams all over the world will be able to benefit from BMW’s past experience in WSBK.
“From a strategic point of view, the Superbike World Championship provided us with the perfect platform, on which to present our BMW S1000RR and BMW HP4 models and establish ourselves globally as a manufacturer of sporty bikes” said Schaller. “We have achieved this ambitious goal. At the same time, BMW Motorrad is closer to its racing customers than any other manufacturers. We are the first motorcycle manufacturer to offer private teams and riders around the world a premium service. It is important for us to enhance and strengthen this project. Furthermore, the technology transfer allows us to incorporate the findings made by our customers out on the racetrack in the production development of our products.”
In 2011, BMW Motorrad founded the specialist BMW Motorrad HP RaceSupport division. This help teams with direct communication with BMW Motorrad and technical support. Since it was founded, the specialist division’s have contributed to the many titles and victories achieved by their teams in racing series all over the world. The biggest successes include winning the title in the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup in 2010, 2012 and 2013, the International German Motorcycle Championship (IDM) in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and many national Superbike championships, as well as victories in the World Endurance Championship in 2011 and 2012.
The new customer racing program sees the existing structure enhanced, in order to better meet the customer’s individual requirements. With the know-how of its experts HP RaceSupport is able to support private customers in numerous racing series. BMW Motorrad also offers, amongst others, rider training courses for its sporty amateur customers.
“I am very much looking forward to this exciting project,” said Hauser, who was BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director from 1999 to 2010 and heads BMW Motorrad HP RaceSupport since it was founded in 2011. “This close and continuous cooperation with our customers is unique in motorsport. With our input, we are helping teams to make the most of the innovative technology on the RR and HP4. We will do our bit to ensure that the RRs and HP4s in action in various championships are even more competitive. At the same time, our specialist knowledge and advice also allows ambitious amateur racers to enjoy the best riding experience. I am confident that we can follow on from the success we have achieved so far, and that BMW Motorrad can win over even more customers around the world through this project.”