BMW Motorrad Motorsport
Imola, Italy, 13/05/2019, FIM Superbike World Championship
At the fifth round of the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) in Imola, Italy, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team proved the strong race pace of the new BMW S 1000 RR. The team scored further strong results – and even more would have been possible. But Lady Luck was not always on Tom Sykes’ and Markus Reiterbergers’ side.
In addition, the race weekend for the WorldSBK and the team was shorter than planned. After best conditions on Friday and Saturday with sun and warm temperatures, race two on Sunday had to be cancelled due to heavy rain.
In Saturday morning’s Superpole qualifying session, both BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team riders secured a good starting position for the first race. Sykes rode his RR to sixth position on the grid, with Reiterberger right behind in seventh.
Sykes made a very good start and was in a promising third place at the halfway point of the race, well ahead of his closest challengers. However, the British rider was then forced to head for the pits. Reiterberger fell back to 13th place at the start and remained there for a while, before moving up again in the final phase to return to the top ten.
The track was already moist during warm-up on Sunday morning. This was the very first session in rainy conditions with the new BMW S 1000 RR for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, as all previous tests and races had taken place in the dry.
The weather conditions for Sunday morning’s Superpole race were changeable, with dry spells. Sykes gave an impressive recovery performance: he had to start from the pit lane, in last place, due to his tyre pressure being slightly too low on the grid. Sykes ploughed through the field on his RR, moving up so far that he was able to cross the line in eighth position. Reiterberger ended the Superpole race in tenth place. A heavy downpour began just as the grid formed up for the second race. The start was delayed and then the race was finally cancelled an hour and a half later.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director:
“Saturday started off really well with Superpole qualifiying. Markus claimed seventh place and really showed that he had made a big leap forward from Friday’s practice session. Tom made a great start to the race and being on his own in third place allowed him to exploit the RR’s potential. Unfortunately, an issue cropped up with the power management and Tom was unable to convert this performance into the result it deserved. Markus lost a few places during the turmoil at the start and got stuck further back in the field. That made the race difficult for him, but he battled his way back and scored some important points by finishing tenth. Overall, we can draw the positive conclusion that our race pace is very good. However, Saturday’s technical problems and Tom being demoted in the Superpole Race meant that we weren’t able to make the most of it. I understand the decision made by race control and the riders that it would have been too dangerous to start the race in the afternoon, although it would have been good for us to ride in the rain, as that would have helped us prepare for the future. Overall, we take a positive attitude from Imola as we head to the next race.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team:
“Tom’s retirement on Saturday was really sad. Five rounds into our first year in WorldSBK with this project and the new RR – and we were not only fighting for the podium, we were on the podium. Then a cruel small issue put an end to his race so I feel very, very sorry for Tom and everyone on his side of the garage because they work really hard. They’ve made a clever tyre choice that worked very well and he had a very good start and everything was there in front of him. Markus unfortunately had a difficult Saturday’s race but again, we collected good data. On Sunday, we proved again that the BMW S 1000 RR is getting very quick now. We have a good pace and I was looking forward to a dry race. In the Superpole race, Tom unfortunately had to start from pit lane. He did the sighting lap to the grid on race tyres. Due to the low temperatures, the tyre pressure slightly dropped below the limit. We will adapt the procedures to avoid this in the future. Tom’s race then was very positive. With his lap times he could have been battling for fourth position which is a fantastic position to be in. Markus went with a different tyre scenario. He was one of only four riders to opt for the SCX tyre. It was a gamble and he would have been very, very good if that would have worked out but unfortunately he lost the tyre before the race was finished. But anyway, we are happy with the top ten for Markus. Overall we can say after this weekend that we are now showing that with its pace the bike can be fast now at many circuits. We can carry this forward and it’s also important that we will have a test at Misano before Jerez because we once again have many things to test.”
“We did a good job in Superpole to secure a starting position of seventh. It was a shame that I then lost a few places at the start of Saturday’s race and during the first few corners. I was stuck behind (Michael Ruben) Rinaldi for quite a while. I was faster, but I just couldn’t get past. However, I was able to overtake a few other riders towards the end and crossed the line in 10th place. That wasn’t quite the result we had hoped for but I am confident that I will continue to improve. Sunday morning's warm-up was the first time that we had raced in the rain with the new RR. I had a pretty good feeling. The conditions were changeable for the Superpole race. It was mainly dry, with some wet spots and we took the risk to opt for the Supersoft tyre. Unfortunately, tyre wear was quite heavy towards the end but I managed to cross the line in tenth place. We had to wait a long time to find out whether we would have a second race or not. It would have been important for us to gain some experience in the rain but the decision to cancel made sense from the point of view of rider safety, as it was really at the limit. Overall, we learned a lot at Imola and we will check out a lot of things during testing to help us continue to make progress. Thanks to the team for their hard work. We will all work hard together to reap the benefits of this work.”
“It seems we have a lot of bad luck at the moment. We’ve worked so hard all weekend and we really improved some areas on the BMW S 1000 RR. We dug deep at the start of Saturday’s race and had a good position but then unfortunately had an issue with the bike. We had the pace, we had a bit of luck with Chaz (Davies) not being in the race and we had a top-three position in our sight. In Sunday’s Superpole Race, the tyre pressure was finally correct but on the grid it was a little bit low because I made a slow lap to the grid. The BMW S 1000 RR chassis was working very well. I made obviously a lot of passes in ten laps. Sure, I’m a bit disappointed but we’re making progress all the time; the team works very hard and I am sure we will have some good fortunes soon. Now we are moving on to the next race where I hope the package can also be competitive. So keep working and hoping we will get the result we’re all working forward very soon.”
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