The winter break is over! Last weekend, BMW S1000RR racers and BMW Motorrad Motorsport support kicked off the 2017 racing season. The first races of the year took place in the Australian Phillip Island, where the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) and the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) held their respective curtain raisers. In WorldSBK, the Althea BMW Racing Team, with riders Jordi Torres (ESP) and Markus Reiterberger (GER), finished with a best of seventh and 12th respectively, while in ASBK Troy Guenther (AUS) and Samuel Lambert (AUS) managed a best of 11th and 14th place in three races.
MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship in Phillip Island, Australia.
For the first of 13 rounds of the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK), the Althea BMW Racing Team and BMW Motorrad Motorsport experts traveled to Phillip Island in the South of Australia. They kicked off the week at the iconic circuit with a two-day-test on Monday and Tuesday, before the race weekend started on Friday.
With strong results in the practice sessions, both Althea BMW Racing Team riders qualified straight into the deciding Superpole 2 session on their BMW S1000RRs. Jordi Torres (ESP) secured seventh on the grid, while his teammate Markus Reiterberger (GER) was 12th.
At the start of Saturday’s first race, Torres dropped a few positions but fought his way back towards the front in the following laps. He reached a top speed of 198.53 mph (319.5 km/h) on his BMW S1000RR, being the fastest man on track. The Spaniard crossed the line in seventh, collecting his first nine points of the season. According to the new WorldSBK regulations, the grid was reversed for Sunday’s second race. The top three finishers of race one have to line up in the third row, while the fourth to ninth placed riders start from the two front rows. For Torres, this resulted in fourth place on Sunday’s starting grid. Unfortunately, he suffered a technical problem in the warm-up lap and had to retire before the start.
“It was a weekend with ups and downs for us,” said Torres. “Race one was great, as we ran well and had a good pace. The only problem was that we had issues at the start. In the warm-up lap of race two I was not able to accelerate, so I had to return to the garage. That was a pity, but overall the weekend went well and we know that we have the pace to be consistently within the front group.”
His German teammate Reiterberger finished the first race in 12th. In race two, he had a very strong start and held ninth position for several laps before dropping to 11th. He then led a closely fought group of five until the final lap. In the last corner, he had a slight slide and was overtaken by two competitors, crossing the line in 13th.
“I was happy with the test early in the week, as we found a good set-up for my 2017 BMW S1000RR,” Reiterberger reported. “Accordingly, Friday was really great and we were fast in both practice sessions. Unfortunately, we were unable to improve further over the weekend. In race one, I struggled a bit but I won my battles and 12th was a solid result to start the season with. In the second race, I managed to be ahead of a strong group of five to the final corner. For sure it was a pity that I dropped two positions in the end, but the race was a lot of fun. We had a good set-up and overall, we have found a good direction from which we can continue to work. Now I am looking forward to the next round in Thailand. I really like the circuit there as it has a stop and go character which is my style. So I hope that we will find a set-up that allows me to fully attack.”
The second round of the 2017 WorldSBK will be held at Chang International Circuit in Thailand from March 10th to 12th.
Australian Superbike Championship in Phillip Island, Australia.
The Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit was also the venue for the opener of the 2017 Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK). Two BMW S1000RR riders tackled the three races held during the weekend: Troy Guenther (AUS) of the NextGen Motorsports team and Samuel Lambert (AUS / Cyclone Motorcycles). Both of them collected points in the strong field of 35 riders. Guenther finished the first two races in 11th and 13th. In the combined result of race three that had to be red-flagged on lap three and restarted due to a crash, he was classified 17th.
“It was a big learning curve this weekend for myself and the NextGen Motorsports team,” said Guenther. “We tried many different settings on the BMW S1000RR, and came away with a good direction of what does and what doesn’t work along with a haul of points to start the year. Really looking forward to the next round, with such a motivated team and group of people behind me. A massive thank you to them.”
Lambert crossed the line in 16th, 20th and 14th places.