BMW Pulls the Plug on WSBK

BMW Pulls the Plug on WSBK

BMW Motorrad has announced it will terminate its factory involvement in the FIM Superbike World Championship at the end of the 2013 season. This comes as part of a strategic realignment which started at the end of the 2012 season when they dropped their in-house factory team and choose to lend full support to the BMW GoldBet Italia team. “The main focus and some of the resources of BMW Motorrad’s commitment to sport will switch to other motorsport activities like the successful international customer sports program from 2014 on,” says the BMW Motorrad press release.

Chaz Davies (#19) and Marco Melandri (#33) in Assen.
Factory riders Chaz Davies (#19) and Marco Melandri (#33) in Assen this year.

BMW Motorrad Motorsport entered the FIM Superbike World Championship in 2009. After a learning phase, it established itself as a winning team in this highly contested series. To date, the German manufacturer has celebrated 11 race wins and a total of 33 podium finishes with the race version of the BMW S1000 RR. The most successful season so far was 2012, when BMW finished runner-up in the manufacturers’ classification and fought for both the manufacturers’ and the riders’ titles until the very last race.

“BMW Motorrad Motorsport will end its involvement in the World Superbike Championship after this season,” explained Stephan Schaller, General Director BMW Motorrad. “This is consistent with the strategic realignment of our brand. BMW Motorrad will now focus on the further expansion of the very successful product portfolio over 500 cc, the expansion of product segments under 500 cc, e-mobility and the development of market potential in emerging economies like Brazil and Asia. Only those who act consistently today are well prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. BMW Motorrad will remain involved in motorsport and in doing so we will focus on the international customer sport in all its facets. I want to thank everybody who has supported us on this long and successful journey.”

“The team is a very professional and motivated group of people and I am sure they will continue to do everything to end the season on a high note,” commented Andrea Buzzoni, General Manager BMW Motorrad WSBK. “Twenty thirteen is a good year, the atmosphere within the team is great and also our riders, Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies, are doing an excellent job. We are satisfied with the current results and, of course, we will keep working hard. Therefore I am convinced we can celebrate more successes with Marco and Chaz as the season goes on. I am sorry about the decision, but I understand the strategic decision making of the company. I want to thank all the people who are involved in this project.”

2 Responses to BMW Pulls the Plug on WSBK

  1. Mister Schaller,

    are you sure you understood how important motorcycle sport is for motorcycle riders?
    Do you have the smallest idea how important it is for customer-brand-identification, to see the racers fight for victories on race tracks on weekends?

    Motorcycle riders are fans of the brand as well, and it’s the fans buying the motorcycles, not only the sport bike, but other products of yours as well (cross-subsidization, you know…).

    This retirement is widely discussed in the web.
    The conclusion is: what – a – embarrassing – shame!

    It is completely logical that you want to gain money. Sport needs resources, thus, money, for sure.
    But it is unclear how many supporters you will lose due to your absent courage.
    These times, if you want to grow, you just cannot do this with boring touring machines (with the exception or HD, maybe) and enduros.

    I know what I am talking about. A brand without a serious(!) engagement in motorcycle sport is not a brand I can be a fan of.

    • I agree wholly with Zinfandel92. With five BMWs in my garage at present, and having owned and ridden the brand for more than 30 years, I find cowardly, however calculated, this most recent move. I have put miles on literally every bike in the showroom the last few years——including the new 800GT just yesterday——and apart from one or two models (boxers), there is no longer a bike in their range that remains true to their heritage, that can be uniquely, specifically differentiated from other brands. From transmissions and electronics made in Japan to radio antennae and others bits made in China, the brand seems to have lost its way. (The same is true of their cars, by the way, many of which I owned for more than two decades.) While diversification and growth are essential for any business, it is folly to sever altogether one’s roots.

      To wit, there isn’t a single pure sports tourer, the segment upon which BMW built its reputation from ’76 through the mid-2000s. Indeed, the K1600-series carries a terrific motor, but the rest of the bike appears to have been designed and built by committee, much of it in Japan. K1300S? Nice bike, but not a sports tourer (although it is done). The 2007 RT I own and adore? Brilliant bike, but not a sports tourer. Indeed, only three bikes in the showroom seem to be fully in focus today: R1200RT (touring), R1200GS (adventure touring), and HP4 (motorsport).

      One concludes sadly that the BMW brand no longer bears any resemblance to the brand of old. s noted, I drove BMW autos for many years, including a glorious 2002 M3, before they became massive, obese German Toyotas; thus, I am now in a Porsche 911 and a Range Rover. The only car in BMW’s lineup that intrigues me in the slightest is their 1-Series M. Small, light, attractive, and very hot. That’s what BMW was all about back in the day.

      In sum, the brand that once claimed legitimately to produce the ultimate driving, and riding, machines can no longer make such a claim. Instead, the company has become the Ultimate Marketing Machine. Brand loyalty can only be weakened by moves like the one reported above. Like millions of riders, I am a passionate MotoGP and WSBK fan, and this news is not merely discouraging; rather, it pushes me immediately to look at brands that have not micro-surgically removed real passion from their DNA strand. Shocked as I am to admit it, for the first time in more than 30 years, I am considering something other than BMW for next year’s two-wheeled acquisitions, the Honda VFR1200 (sports touring) and the Panigale (motorsports). After all, why not? These bikes are hardly more Japanese than much of BMW’s current offer, and not all of us suffer 10-second attention spans. Sustainable, bankable brand loyalty is not established through ad campaigns and product placements.

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