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BMW Motorrad Motorsport

Munich, Germany, 19/03/2019, FIM Superbike World Championship

WorldSBK action in tropical heat

Second round of the season in Thailand

The Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand was the second track which saw the brand new BMW S 1000 RR in action in its FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) debut season. Riding in tropical temperatures, the two riders of the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Teams, Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger, not only scored more championship points but also gathered valuable data for the further development of the brand new Superbike.

As expected, the Thai round was a real battle with the heat. The air temperatures reached 36 degrees Celsius, while the tarmac heated up to far more than 50 degrees Celsius. Indeed, the working conditions were all but easy but the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team used the weekend to intensively work on the further development of the new RR under race conditions. And it became evident once again that the new BMW S 1000 RR is already pretty competitive in several areas.

The racing action at Buriram

In Saturday’s Superpole qualifying, Sykes secured sixth place on the second row on his RR and Reiterberger finished Superpole in 11th. The race itself was held in the late afternoon local time. After 20 laps, Sykes claimed another top-ten finish with ninth position. Reiterberger also increased his points tally by taking 14th place.

In the Superpole race on early Sunday afternoon Sykes took the flag in tenth position while Reiterberger finished 14th. Sykes was therefore tenth on the grid for race two, held in the late afternoon local time, while Reiterberger started from 12th place. Both BMW riders made up positions at the start. As the race went on, Sykes was in ninth place but then experienced issues with the clutch and had to stop his bike at the side of the track. Reiterberger collected five more world championship points by finishing in 11th position.

The BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and WorldSBK will now return to Europe. The third round of the season will be held from 5th to 7th April at MotorLand Aragón near Alcañiz.

Quotes after the WorldSBK races at Buriram:

Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director:
“The results of the first race on Saturday were inline with our expectations. We were able to confirm the success of our updates and sort out other issues. Given the current top-speed deficit however, it would still be unrealistic to expect that we can hold our grid positions in the races. The grid positions after Sunday’s Superpole race also met our expectations and were okay. The second main race, however, was rather disappointing for us, with Tom retiring and Markus having quite a gap to the front. Tom had to stop due to a slipping clutch. We will now analyse in detail what caused it. Markus was able to collect a few points by finishing 11th. Now we need to take advantage of the short break to complete the next updates at the factory, taking the next steps on our way forward.”

Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team:
“On Saturday, Tom had a real good Superpole. He started the session pretty slowly and did not quite get into his rhythm. Then he put the qualifying tyre on and really pulled it out of the bag to qualify in a very strong sixth position on the second row. Markus did not quite get the best out of his qualifying tyre but nevertheless he safely rode through onto a reasonable position on the grid. In the first race, we knew where we would end up roughly within the field. The target was a top-ten position and I think, with the deficit in the straight-line speed, Tom did impressively and showed his professional approach to bring it home in the position he did. In addition, we got some valuable data. Markus dropped back in the turmoil of the first corner after the start. He had difficult opening laps, lost positions, ran wide a couple of time when struggling on braking and so finished in 14th. On Sunday, Tom had a great Superpole race. Again, we were focusing on the top ten positions. He got a really good start, got pushed wide a little bit on turn one but worked his way through. By the time he was in turn three, he was in a strong position. He settled in with a good routine and got a strong finish. Tom’s main race unfortunately suddenly came to a close. He had settled into a good rhythm, the track was just coming to him, the lap times had started to drop but then unfortunately he had a technical issue that dropped him out. Markus struggled finding a comfortable bike, which has been a problem all weekend. He could not find a good feeling with the chassis, especially with the front end. Until we can give him that real comfortable feel he’s struggling to really push to close the gap towards the front guys. We have to be happy still overall for the weekend in Buriram - disappointing with the DNF for Tom - but I think we still go away with a lot of positives and are looking forward to Aragón.”

Tom Sykes:
“I think everyone saw the potential of the BMW S 1000 RR. In the corners and in the braking areas, I think our potential is very high. It’s just a bit unfortunate that we are missing out on straight-line speed and so we were losing positions on the straight. I was very happy with the performance in the corners, the corner speed and the general turning of the bike. Again: the first time I rode this bike was on 18th December. It is a very early stage of the programme. I have a lot of experience and to just put things into perspective I think that we are doing a very, very good job. For now we have a limitation on speed performance but in the areas of chassis, suspension, electronics everybody did a great job already and honestly the handling of the bike is impressive. When I had battles on the track I was actually surprised how strong we were in some areas. So we keep working. In Sunday’s main race I felt after a couple of laps that something was wrong. It’s a bit frustrating because we had made a change to the bike and it really felt good. On the positive side I’m really surprised to come here to this race circuit and to be inside the top ten with our disadvantage on the straight, so to be inside the top ten is really promising in my opinion. Honestly, in the approach and entry of many corners, the chassis and the set-up on the BMW S 1000 RR is really an advantage compared to our competition so overall there are quite a lot of positives for me to take. The negative is obviously, as we saw at Phillip Island, that we are giving a lot away on the straights but hopefully that won’t be a problem anymore in the not so distant future.”

Markus Reiterberger:
“We’ve made a change from Friday to Saturday which we benefitted from in the third free practice as I was able to ride fast and consistent lap times. For the Superpole we then made another small adjustment which gave me even more confidence. I had a good start in Saturday’s race, but then I was a bit unlucky in the first corner and on the back straight. Unfortunately I lost some positions. In the turmoil I could not ride my own rhythm. In addition, it seemed that I could not quite brake as I would like to. Then I made a mistake and went wide but I was able to bring home two points. In Sunday’s Superpole race, I had a great start and was right behind Tom after the first corner. I also had nice battles on the opening laps, but then another rider almost got me off the bike and I had to go straight. As a result, I lost six positions. When I then made a mistake, the race was more or less over for me. In Sunday’s main race I struggled with the issue that has been causing us difficulties all weekend: that I could not delay the bike well enough and I had no feeling for the front of the bike. We tried to get a grip on that and improved things step by step, but unfortunately it just was not enough over the distance, especially when it got hotter and the grip level went down. Our gap towards the front mainly results from the time lost on the straights, but I’m not worried about that. Here I trust the guys in the factory that we get more power, and then the results will be better as well. But I have to continue to work on getting confidence in the front wheel when turning in and in the corners.”

Results FIM Superbike World Championship, Buriram:

Race 1:

9th Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team)
14th Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team)

Superpole race:

10th Tom Sykes
14th Markus Reiterberger

Race 2:

11th Markus Reiterberger
DNF Tom Sykes