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BMW Motorrad Motorsport

Doha, Qatar, 28/10/2019, FIM Superbike World Championship

Final desert ride

WorldSBK season finale in Qatar

Time flies: in February, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team kicked off its debut season with the new BMW S 1000 RR in the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) in Australia. Now, the season finale was held on the ‘Losail International Circuit’ near Doha in the Qatari desert. The final races of the year had highs and lows for the team with riders, Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger.

Overall, it was a positive debut season for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. The team claimed four podiums, one pole position and numerous top six finishes. Sykes finished the season eighth in the riders’ standings (223 points). Reiterberger claimed 14th place overall (83 points).

The race action

Superpole was held on the early Friday evening at 5 p.m. local time, already under floodlights. Sykes managed to make good use of the faster qualifying tyre and he secured fourth place on the second row in the final stages of the session. Reiterberger continued the positive trend from the practice sessions and qualified ninth on the third row.

When the first main race was started at 8 p.m. local time, the air temperature was still a humid 31 degrees Celsius. Sykes stormed towards the front, into second place, but then slightly dropped back again. Entering the second lap, however, he crashed while battling and had to retire. Reiterberger also had a stunning start but lost positions in the first corner. Soon, however, he had worked his way back into the top ten. From there, he progressed further forwards, and after 17 laps he crossed the line in eighth place, directly behind a group of three that was fighting for fifth position. It was his second best result of the season.

Reiterberger’s side of the garage had high hopes for another successful day after Saturday’s afternoon warm-up session. Reiterberger was in the top three for a long time with his RR and threatened to chalk up a fastest lap before finishing the session in fourth place. However, the tables turned in the Superpole race, which started at 4 p.m. local time. Sykes began from fourth place but fell back through the field as the race progressed and crossed the line in twelfth position. Reiterberger suffered a similar fate, finishing 15th after starting from ninth place. This meant that Sykes began the main race on Saturday evening from tenth, with Reiterberger in eleventh place.

Sykes and Reiterberger both enjoyed good starts. Sykes was in ninth place for some time but lost several positions as the race progressed before crossing the line in twelfth place. Reiterberger had to avoid another rider on the first turn and fell some way back as a result. He was, however, able to make up some positions in the closing phase, finishing the race in 14th place.

Quotes after the races at Doha

Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director:
“We are happy with Markus’ Friday performance, in any case. It was great to see that he was able to fight behind the group in the midfield. In the second half of the race, he was nearly as fast as the front riders in the two middle sectors. That is really pleasing. Tom had a mega start into the first race. Unfortunately, he had a contact with another rider when entering the second lap and could not stop the bike anymore. That’s a pity but can happen in races. Saturday, of course, that was not quite how we had hoped to round off the season. However, we continue to struggle to adapt to changing conditions, as we saw in these fluctuating temperatures. That is one of the areas that we will have to work on. We were able to collect more valuable information during this weekend in Qatar, which we will be able to use during the winter break as we prepare for next season. Overall, we feel positive about how it went. From the start, we viewed 2019 as a year for learning and we did record four podiums, one pole position and many top six finishes. That is something to be pleased about and we can build on this next season. I would like to thank the entire BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and our riders Tom and Markus. Everyone has been working hard since the project got going. No-one gave up after any setbacks and that ensured that this was a successful debut season. Thanks to everyone for that. Markus is now bidding farewell to the team – I would like to wish him all the best for the future.”

Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team:
“We didn’t make much progress from the first day on track on Thursday and has been a difficult weekend ever since. We felt we had some momentum from Magny-Cours going into Argentina, which didn’t turn out positively, and that has followed us really into Qatar where we have been chasing a set-up. Markus on paper looked like he was having a good weekend, he had good pace in race one and into the Superpole race but unfortunately could not convert that into strong positions today. Tom couldn’t find the balance nor momentum so sadly we are signing off in Qatar not where we hoped to be. However, on a whole we have achieved our targets of 2019 in what has been a successful first development season so onwards and upwards for 2020.”

Tom Sykes:
“It’s not the way I would have liked to end the season given the results that we have had previously. We have arrived at a circuit where you are in the corner for a long time which is an area on the bike that we need to work on, so overall a very disappointing weekend to end 2019. On the whole, the new project finishing eighth in the championship is relatively good considering there are six factory bikes from different manufacturers with a lot more experience. We have had some very strong showings, we have shown the potential of the BMW S 1000 RR and the relationship with the new team has worked well. Going into the winter I would like to think that the information the team gathered can be put into development and ultimately a better starting point for next season.”

Markus Reiterberger:
“Friday was really good. I was satisfied, even if I did not fully exploit to 100 per cent what was possible. We made another step for Superpole and I was even able to do a 1:57.7 with race tyres that brought me to sixth place. It was a great lap and my feeling was really good. My lap with the qualifying tyre was also great but not perfect and this already makes the difference between a few positions. But ninth place on the third row still was good. I had a great start into the first race, until the first corner. I was already in fifth place but then I shifted down one gear too few and was in third gear. This resulted in the loss of positions but soon I overtook several others and worked my way back towards the front. From then on, I kept my pace to the finish line. We did adjust the bike a little for Saturday’s warm-up and the session went really well for me. I was in third place for a long time and finished the session in fourth place. That felt fantastic. However, the first turn in both races put paid to my hopes a bit, although I had started well both times. In the main race, I got trapped between two riders on turn one. I had to take evasive action, which forced me to go extremely wide and cost me a few places. After that, it was a pretty lonely race for me, but in the closing stages I did manage to overtake three riders and score some points in the end. At least had some renewed impetus on my final weekend with the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, which helps me to feel a bit better before the break. We had a great time and I would like to thank everyone for giving me this opportunity. I wish the project every success and I hope to be able to contribute something to it again in the future.”

Results FIM Superbike World Championship, Doha:

Race 1:

8th Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team)
DNF Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team)

Superpole Race:

12th Tom Sykes
15th Markus Reiterberger

Race 2:

12th Tom Sykes
14th Markus Reiterberger