23rd February 2019
Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
Following a positive opening day at Phillip Island, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team took to the track on Saturday with high hopes for the day’s qualifying session.
Both riders had provisionally made solid performances in free practice sessions, but with everyone upping the pace in FP3 this morning they needed to maintain strong lap times to stay within the top 10 - something they managed well.
Reining European 1000 STK champion Markus Reiterberger hopeful for a top 10 outing in TISSOT Superpole unfortunately didn’t have much luck, with a sensor problem preventing him from challenging the front runners he finished up in P13 (1’30.900) putting him on the 5th row of the grid.
Tom Sykes had his eyes firmly set on the top 6 for Superpole and the BMW Motorrad rider certainly didn’t disappoint, posting a 1'29.822 placing him on the second row of the grid in fourth place for the opening race of the 2019 calendar – an impressive maiden outing for the new BMW S 1000 RR
Race 1 quickly approached the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team and as the red light disappeared, the FIM World Superbike Championship had finally begun.
Tom Sykes got off to a solid start despite dropping a place to fellow Englishman Alex Lowes on the opening lap. Lap 3, Sykes was then passed by the number 52 of Toprak relegating Tom into sixth position which he maintained for the next 11 laps, until a crash from Leon Haslam promoted him back into P5.
Sitting in fourth position Sykes was hot on the heels of Toprak and going into the historic T10 of “lukey heights” he took his opportunity with a classic overtake move – now in P4.
However, his battle with Toprak wasn’t over... as they traded positions multiple times throughout the coming laps this gave the chance for Melandri and Michael VDM to close in on them, and on lap 17 Sykes ran wide on T2 gifting the places to the Yamaha duo.
With the end of the race in sight Sykes wasn’t ready to give up the fight with Toprak, however the disadvantage of the straight-line speed proved too difficult for him and despite his efforts, managed to bring the BMW S 1000 RR in seventh position for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team.
On the other side of the garage the story didn’t go quite to plan for Markus Reiterberger. Starting his race in P13, he didn’t get the bests of starts loosing 3 places on the opening laps. However, settling into a rhythm mid race he managed to gain two places from the factory Honda rider Kiyonari and argentine Leandro Mercardo eventually brining the bike home in a solid 13th position – gaining a valuable 3 points.
Dr. Markus Schramm - Head of BMW Motorrad
“The first race was an immensely important milestone for us, and we can be very satisfied with the result. We knew that our new BMW S 1000 RR has a very good base for its use in WorldSBK. However, we surely should not have expected that both riders could score points in the first race. A big compliment to the entire team and the colleagues at home in Munich and Berlin for the work done in the short development time. However, we also saw today that we still have great potential.”
Marc Bongers - BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director
“We are quite happy with the weekend so far. We have shown in the sessions that we can be with the frontrunners. On the other hand, you can also see where we are still losing at the moment. However, we were aware of that when we came here after the few test days and we are working on it. As soon as we improve in this area, we’ll be in the mix. We are also pleased because two and a half months ago, we did not expect these results.”
Shaun Muir - Team Principal
“I think both riders did very well. We could not have expected much more from Tom. He was in a battle with the front guys. In a better situation we could have stayed in the tow, but eventually another rider and him messed each other up and he lost the tow from the front guys. In my heart, I felt top six was a possibility; seventh is kind of where we expected to be. So for me, Tom got a great race.
On the other side of the garage, Markus obviously suffered with qualifying and a poor start by his own admission. I addition, he also struggled with grip but he was in the company of some very good riders and finished only ten seconds behind his team-mate – with a much poorer grid position. So we can take a lot of hope from it and will do some changes overnight.”
Tom Sykes (GBR)
“Consistently, we have been there in the mix. So I am obviously quite surprised about the progress of the whole BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. To be so competitive after just six test days is quite special. I think everybody has seen on track that we had some limitation on the straight line but the positive is that the BMW S 1000 RR is certainly doing its job in the corners. There’s no arguing that we have a very good base setup in terms of chassis, electronics and brakes. The potential is definitely there. We have one race under our belt now, we keep on working and we keep on progressing. And I have to say: for the base start, I think we surprised quite a lot of people.”
Markus Reiterberger (GER)
“We continued to improve in morning practice, but it seems that we start struggling with grip as soon as the temperatures rise. In the Superpole, we had an issue with a sensor. But I also have to admit that I did not have that comfortable feeling and therefore did not do a good lap. Unfortunately my start was not the best, and on the first laps I tried to save the rear tyre for the distance. I succeeded, but overall it was just not possible to finish further ahead. Position 13 is not what I personally expected, but for BMW, finishing seventh was a good result. I think there is still a lot of potential in me and in the bike that we can exploit. We will keep working and I’m sure we will succeed.”