BMW’s Haslam on Podium of First WSBK Race of the Year

BMW’s Haslam on Podium of First WSBK Race of the Year

The 2011 FIM Superbike World Championship started well for Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport. In the first race of the season in Phillip Island, Australia, Leon Haslam (GBR) finished in third place. This podium finish matches BMW’s best result from all of last season. Haslam finished fifth in the second race of the day while BMW’s other factory rider, Troy Corser, finished 10th and 19th for the two races. BMW Motorrad Superbike Team Italy took their first World Championship points for the season with James Toseland finishing 17th and 14th in the two races and Ayrton Badovini finishing 14th in the first race but unfortunately had to retire during the first lap of the second race because of a mechanical problem.

Both teams arrived in Australia last week for practice sessions on the track with other teams. The crews compared different tire compounds and worked on chassis and suspension set-up. During the qualifying practice, Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport riders Leon Haslam (GBR) and Troy Corser (AUS) suffered from grip issues but were able to secure provisional starting positions on the second and third rows. They then worked on the engine mapping as well as the chassis set-up between the sessions. Haslam qualified in sixth, while Troy in eleventh. Rainer Bäumel (Head of Race Operations) said, “We saw we were heading in the right direction on Leon’s side, while it took us longer to make Troy’s bike quicker. He still had big problems during this morning’s session. We were better in the afternoon, but still both riders lack mechanical grip.”

BMW Motorrad Motorsport Rider Leon Haslam on the BMW S1000RR.

The BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team could only get in a few miles of dry practice ahead of the qualifying practice and it showed. Both James Toseland and Ayrton Badovini encountered difficulties in their first qualifying which ended with them in fifteenth and twentieth places respectively.

On Saturday, the teams went out for their second qualifying practice and Superpole competition. Both riders for Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport made it into the third and final qualifying session (which is limited to 16 riders this year), with Haslam securing the fourth position and Corser the seventh. Haslam commented, “This is a great result. If someone had offered me a front row start two weeks ago I would have been over the moon, so certainly we are all really happy. The team has pulled together and worked hard to overcome the issues we have had so far this weekend, and the end result has come at the right time.”

Troy Corser on the BMW S1000RR during Superpole competition.

The BMW Motorrad Superbike Team Italy managed to get into Superpole with James Toseland. The team wasn’t able to complete their testing program so their riders didn’t have the ideal set-up for the qualifyng. Toseland made Superpole with the 16th fastest time, managing to gain a position during the final three-step qualification and secured the 15th spot on the grid. Ayrton Badovini, however, was unable to get into the Superpole phase having set the 20th fastest time. James Toseland said, “Honestly I feel sorry to be only fifteenth. The team did a great job but we have effectively only had two days testing. Given Leon Haslam’s result today we have confidence in the bike’s potential.”

James Toseland, #52, on the BMW S1000RR.

The races on Sunday saw rain in the morning and overcast skies in the afternoon with track temperatures rising from the 70s to 90s Fahrenheit. In race 1, both riders for Team BMW Motorrad made good starts. After one lap, Haslam was still defending his fourth position, while Corser had passed Sylvain Guintoli and Jakub Smrz. After just a couple of laps, Corser suffered badly from a lack of grip and chattering. He was not able to hold his position and finished tenth. Haslam had some tough battles with Eugene Laverty and Marco Melandri. On lap 17 he passed Marco and was able to defend third until the checkered flag. James Toseland had a series of off-track moments that relegated him to 17th position. Ayrton Badovini rode a good race and finished in 14th.

Leon Haslam and mechanic Jason Wright celebrate the 3rd Place.
Giacomo Guidotti Crew Chief (from left), Bernhard Gobmeier BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director, rider Leon Haslam and Rainer Baeumel Project Manager celebrate the third place win.

Haslam made a brilliant start in the second race and was first into turn 1. He struggled with the bike’s set-up and therefore was not able to defend this position. He finished the race fifth. While in fourth place, Corser found a false neutral on lap nine and fell back to eleventh. In the second half of the race he faced tire degradation and finished the race only 19th. Toseland adjusted the set up of his bike for the second race and managed to finish in 14th. The BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team says he would have done better except for a small technical problem that slowed the English rider. Badovini, unfortunately, was forced to retire with a technical problem on the first lap of the second race.

The BMW Motorrad Motorsport Team leaves Australia with 33 points in the team standings (fourth overall). Haslam lies fourth in the riders’ championship (27 points) while Corser (AUS) lies 14th (six points). Toseland and Badovini won a total of four points which will certainly strengthen the morale of the BMW Motorrad Superbike Team Italy and motivate them to continue their new program.

2011 World Superbike Championship

Phillip Island Race 1 Results:

1. Carlos Checa (Ducati)
2. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
3. Leon Haslam (BMW): Gap to 1st: 00:10.719 min / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:32.266 min
4. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha)
5. Marco Melandri (Yamaha)
6. Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki)
7. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)
8. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
9. Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia)
10. Troy Corser (BMW): Gap to 1st: 00:25.822 min / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:32.287 min
11. Roberto Rolfo (Kawasaki)
12. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
13. Leon Camier (Aprilia)
14. Ayrton Badovini (BMW)
15. Bryan Staring (Kawasaki)
17. James Toseland (BMW)

Phillip Island Race 2 Results:

1. Carlos Checa (Ducati)
2. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
3. Marco Melandri (Yamaha)
4. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
5. Leon Haslam (BMW): Gap to 1st: 00:10.885 min / Fastest Lap Race 2: 1:32.560 min
6. Leon Camier (Aprilia)
7. Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia)
8. Michel Fabrizio (Suzuki)
9. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
10. Ruben Xaus (Honda)
11. Jakub Smrz (Ducati)
12. Roberto Rolfo (Kawasaki)
13. Joshua Waters (Suzuki)
14. James Toseland (BMW)
15. Eugene Laverty (Yamaha)
19. Troy Corser (BMW): Gap to 1st: 00:55.738 min / Fastest Lap Race 2: 1:32.355 min
RT. Ayrton Badovini (BMW)

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