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BMW Motorrad Motorsport

Donington Park, Great Britain, 08/07/2019,

The first pole and on the podium again

Celebrations also at Donington Park

The BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team once again had cause to celebrate at Donington Park. In Saturday’s Superpole qualifying, Tom Sykes secured the first pole position for the new BMW S 1000 RR in the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK). He then finished runner-up in the afternoon’s opening race, claiming the second WorldSBK podium for the new RR. On Sunday, unfortunate circumstances hindered further podium celebrations.

Peter Hickman, who was standing in for Markus Reiterberger at Donington Park, finished fourth in Superpole qualifying and seventh in the first race. He then finished Sunday’s main race in eleventh place. Reiterberger was forced to pull out of this weekend’s event with a severe viral infection but will be back in action at the next round at Laguna Seca.

The race action

Sykes already showed on Friday that he feels comfortable on the RR at his home circuit in Great Britain, setting the fastest time of the free practice sessions. Conditions were initially damp for Saturday’s Superpole, before the track started to dry out. Sykes secured pole position with an advantage of almost a second over Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki). This was the 49th pole position for Sykes, who holds the record for the most poles in WorldSBK. Hickman, who is familiar with the BMW S 1000 RR from the British Superbike Championship (BSB) and road racing, and knows the Donington Park circuit well, qualified fourth to secure a good starting position for race one.

The Saturday race then took place in wet conditions. Sykes was passed by Rea at the start, but his second place never looked under threat throughout the entire 23-lap race. He also set the fastest lap of the race en route to the podium. Hickman lost several positions at the start, but then found a good rhythm and rode a flawless race to cross the finish line in seventh place.

On Sunday, Sykes started the morning’s Superpole sprint race from pole position. He was embroiled in a close duel for the lead with Rea and was at the front of the field for four laps. Rea overtook him, but Sykes was hot on the heels of his rival in second place. With three laps to go, a technical defect meant Hickman lost oil, several riders fell as a result, and the race was aborted. After the race was red flagged and the field headed back to the pits, the oil slick also sent Sykes skidding into the gravel. Second place was taken away from him and he was classified as not having finished the race.

This meant Sykes had to start the second main race in the afternoon from tenth on the grid. With a plucky catch-up race, he moved up into seventh. Hickman started from eleventh on the grid and briefly dropped down one place, but was back in eleventh after the second lap, where he remained until the end of the race.

Quotes after the races at Donington Park

Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director:
“It was a super Saturday. As early as Friday, there were signs that Tom would have a say in the battle at the front of the field. In Superpole, he gave an awesome display and the team chose a very good strategy to secure the first pole position for our new BMW S 1000 RR – and to improve his own record. In the first race, he was equally impressive in taking second place. Peter also had a good Saturday. He jumped in at short notice and, even if you know the bike and the circuit, you have to earn fourth place on the grid in such a strong field. He showed his experience in the race and finished a good seventh. Unfortunately, Sunday didn’t go according to plan. Firstly, we are very sorry that the technical issue with Peter’s motorcycle in the Superpole race affected other riders, who ended up falling. Unfortunately, Tom’s second place was revoked after he fell on the cool down lap and was unable to make it back to the pits with his bike within the requisite time. In the second main race he delivered another outstanding performance and got a lot out of the race with seventh place. We need to file Sunday under learning year and move forward. We saw that the pace of the BMW S 1000 RR is definitely there, and we hope we can convert this into the corresponding results in the Superpole and all three races at Laguna Seca. Kudos to Peter, who jumped in at short notice and delivered a really strong performance.”

Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team:
“With Tom, we continued the good work from Misano and it was great to get the maiden pole position for the new RR. We then really would have wished to have a dry race because we felt we had the pace strong enough to be on the podium if not to win in dry conditions. Tom’s confidence is getting stronger and stronger every race event we go out. Peter has never raced in these conditions with this bike so to get on and do what he did was fantastic. He uses his head very sensibly there. He took a brave decision in qualifying to go out on slicks at the very end with not many doing that and to secure fourth on the grid was fantastic. Also with P7 in the first race, Peter has had a great Saturday. In the Superpole race, the rule book went against us. Tom did everything right. He had a good, strong pace. It was only between him and Jonathan to battle for the win in the sprint race. To be penalised with the five-minute return-pit-lane rule we felt was extremely harsh considering all the circumstances. However, there is nothing in the rule book that would have allowed any different outcome to that. Tom could not get the bike back to the paddock – it could not be moved – within the five-minute period stipulated in the rule book. So, we must accept the outcome as harsh as it is. Tom’s second main race was obviously affected by starting from tenth. He rode a strong race and even though he struggled with grip he was within a second of fourth position and not too far away from the podium. We have to take strength from this weekend; I’m pleased with the guys, I’m proud of everyone’s effort, and proud of how everyone bounced back from such a big knockback in the sprint race to come back fighting in the main race. We will take this away with us, it will hopefully make us stronger and we will learn from it. Peter had a bit of a lonely second main race. If he had got away a little bit sharper at the start, he could maybe have stayed with the guys in front of him. But we are happy with P11. He did not put a foot wrong all weekend, coming in at the last minute and he has certainly done himself and the team proud.”

Tom Sykes:
“The speed has been there all weekend, certainly in dry conditions. It was just fantastic to claim pole position on Saturday. In the first race in wet conditions, we had some limitations but it’s great to bring it home in second position. It’s still really quite incredible where we are as it is so early in the programme. Credit to the entire BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. What they are doing is outstanding. Sunday certainly was an unlucky day. When we came over the hilltop into Melbourne Loop after the red flag, there was a parked car right at the edge of the tarmac, and riders, bikes and marshals, so I looked up just to try and understand if someone was coming on track. Then I hit the oil, Jonathan nearly crashed and I unfortunately did. What happened completely changed the dynamic of the day and of the second long race. Starting from tenth, I struggled as I would have needed some clear air. The performance was certainly compromised in today’s race. It’s a shame because we definitely had the pace for the podium. Yes, I’m disappointed but with the form we have shown this weekend, we still have a lot of positives to take away.”

Peter Hickman:
“I’m happy enough. Saturday’s race was the first time actually for me to ride the bike in fully wet conditions so it has been a little bit of an unknown for me. It was also different for me to get used to the electronics again. I’m happy that I came away with a good and solid top ten result. The start wasn’t the best; we had a little problem at the start which put us back. If we could have gone way with the front group I maybe could have gone with them a little bit. On Sunday, I was a bit disappointed to be outside the top ten, to be honest. I felt I had some pace to be in the top ten. But I did not quite have the grip in the final race compared to what we had earlier in the day and Saturday. Maybe the track temperature went up a bit but because of what had happened in the Superpole Race, we did not the have time to make changes to the bike based on what we had learned in the first race for the second. But that’s the way it goes. I’ve had a good weekend, I’ve enjoyed myself and learned something. The team has been fantastic, thanks to Smiths Racing BMW for allowing me to compete here, and to Dunlop UK for allowing me to drop their weekend to come here. I hope to get an opportunity like this again sometime in the future.”

Results FIM Superbike World Championship, Donington Park:

Race 1:

2nd Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) (+ fastest race lap)
7th Peter Hickman (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team)

Superpole Race:

DNF Tom Sykes
DNF Peter Hickman

Race 2:

7th Tom Sykes
11th Peter Hickman