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BMW Motorrad Motorsport

Portimão, Portugal, 09/09/2019, FIM Superbike World Championship

Under the hot Portuguese sun

The BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team in action at Portimão

In very hot conditions in Portimão, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team secured another front row start and again scored good results. The team was in action with riders Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger at the tenth round of the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) in Portugal. In Saturday’s Superpole, Sykes secured second place on the front row of the grid. In race one, he was unlucky and finished 13th. On Sunday, he was seventh in the Superpole Race and ninth in race two.

Team-mate Reiterberger clinched a strong ninth place in the Superpole. In race one, he crossed the line in 12th. “Reiti” then finished Sunday’s races in 14th and 13th positions respectively.

Another news of the weekend: Tom Sykes will race the team’s BMW S 1000 RR also in the 2020 WorldSBK season. His new team-mate for next year will be Eugene Laverty.

The race action

Sykes was able to make good use of the faster qualifying tyres during the final minutes of Superpole, setting what was then the best time - with a new lap record of 01:40.483 minutes. It was only Kawasaki rider Jonathan Rea who managed to go one better and claim pole position. Sykes claimed the second spot on the front row. Reiterberger also reached the top ten in Superpole, finishing ninth.

Sykes initially dropped back after the start of the race but stayed in the leading group that was battling for podium positions, however the British rider fell on lap eight out of 20. He was able to remount and continued the race on his RR in 15th place. He proceeded to move up two places to 13th during the remaining laps. Reiterberger also lost a few places after the start. He then gave a solid race performance, crossing the line in twelfth position.

After his fantastic performance in Saturday’s Superpole qualifying, Sykes was starting Sunday morning’s Superpole race from second on the grid with his RR. In the early stages of the ten-lap sprint he maintained second place but then conceded some positions as the race went on and finished seventh. Reiterberger started the race from ninth place but also lost some places and reached the finish in 14th position.

The Superpole race results decided the grid positions for the second main race on Sunday afternoon. Sykes was starting from seventh and Reiterberger from twelfth place. In the early laps, Sykes held seventh position in a closely fought group before dropping back to tenth for some time. After 20 laps, he crossed the line in ninth place. Reiterberger took the chequered flag in 13th position.

Quotes after the Portimão races

Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team:
“Both riders did very well in Saturday’s Superpole. Tom obviously made a great lap with his qualifier and second position was fantastic. Markus held on to the third row of the grid in ninth which again was a solid performance from him. The first race was difficult. Tom got away well, he was in a real strong group and he was faster on some parts of the circuit while he was slower in other parts. The places where he was struggling on speed was where the passing places were at the end of the start-finish straight. He suffered badly for that and he was overriding and because of that he lost the front. But he took the good decision to get back on the bike and finish the race to collect some data. Markus’ start in race one was not so bad but then he got sucked in and dropped two places into the first corner. From that position it was a lonely race for him and as the race tyre disintegrates as the laps go on he got slower and this unfortunately was the position he finished. It then was a difficult Superpole race on Sunday. We started off in a strong position for Tom and also a good position for Markus but we couldn’t consolidate that; we slid back in the pack. It was difficult to hold position. The same problem we had in the sprint race we then had in the second main race. It has been lack of grip, edge grip, and we really struggled with both Markus and Tom today. We know that we need to go and look for the chassis balance. For sure we know about the speed deficit but the big issue at the moment is to find more mechanical grip. If we succeed in this and find more mechanical grip, which will be more from the chassis and suspension, then I think we can make another step forward. But today in these hot conditions and in a race condition where you have 20 laps you really feel the effect of that. Unfortunately, both riders struggled throughout. We could see that when we do have grip, when we have a qualifying tyre on, Tom is probably one of the fastest riders on the grid. This highlights that if we can introduce more grip in race tyre conditions then we will have a much better pace in the race. That is something what we have learned again this weekend and we will work hard to improve that for the next rounds.”

Tom Sykes:
“We have found a good set-up for our BMW S 1000 RR and we’ve been really consistent throughout practice and also in Superpole. We had a very strong Superpole result and just missed pole position by only one tenth. So this was good but unfortunately during the first race our set-up was really good to ride when I’m on my own but when I was with the other guys the style of riding had to change a bit. And just this slight change in style caused me losing the front when I released the brake. I was a little bit disappointed but it was a big lesson learned. Sunday has been a bit difficult and obviously in race conditions we saw that we have some more work to do. We had some quite extreme race conditions on Sunday and as a result collected some good data. In the last race we made a few changes to the BMW S 1000 RR, which helped us to move forward and the race itself has given us a lot of information and a clear point where we are lacking and where to try and improve. Having said that, we certainly have some positives to take away from this weekend in terms of track performance. A big thanks to the whole of the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team; we’ve had quite an intense few days testing here a few weeks back and here at the race weekend so credit to them, we will keep working and hopefully get to where we want to be in a few weeks’ time at Magny-Cours.”

Markus Reiterberger:
“Superpole was really great. With the SC-X tyres I managed to reach the top five for a time before ending up in seventh before everyone had put on their qualifying tyres. I was then able to record a fast second lap after the first one with the qualifying tyres. That was a perfect lap. I had expected to be on the second row but it was ninth place in the end. I was just two and a half tenths of a second off fourth place. The start into the first race went well enough but I hit the first two gears too early and that meant that the other riders were able to out-accelerate me. Then I rode my race. In Sunday’s warm-up, we tried a little modification. It felt positive but we knew that we should not be fooled since in the cooler mornings the grip is always better and our bike works really well then.
Unfortunately, we struggle more and more the warmer it gets. We were able to use the soft tyre in the Superpole race but I finished only 14th so it was not a good race. For the second race, we made another change and the feeling was great. The start was good, but maybe I was a bit too cautious in the first two corners and lost a few places. But then I was able to set good lap times and keep in touch with the group but I just could not get past Michael Ruben Rinaldi.”

Results FIM Superbike World Championship, Portimão:

Race 1:

12th Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team)
13th Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team)

Superpole Race:

7th Tom Sykes
14th Markus Reiterberger

Race 2:

9th Tom Sykes
13th Markus Reiterberger