Welcome to the beta version of the new Women & Golf website. Our web monkeys are still hard at work and welcome your feedback.  


BMW boss confirms plans for satellite WorldSBK team

One of the more noticeable aspects of the 2020 season so far is that even though there is very much a three-way fight for podium finishes and race wins, between Kawasaki, Ducati and on more than one front nowadays Yamaha, the expected jump in BMW’s real race fortunes has yet to materialise. Only three rounds in of course, even though August is at its halfway point soon.

Far enough into the season for SMR (who runs the team side of things) and BMW (who do the machine tech and off-site development side) to have already signed up Michael van der Mark for 2021, meaning that one of the existing line up of WorldSBK talent, Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty, will have to go.

The ‘luck’ rider will find out sooner rather than later, according to SMR’s eponymous leader, Shaun Muir. “In the next two weeks after Portimao,” he affirmed at Portimao recently. “We have to sit down with both of them after Sunday and just make a plan and a discussion, we will make a decision on merit and what we think is going to be best. Obviously it is a tough call but three into two doesn’t go, so one of them is going to be let down, sadly.”


It is a strange situation for some, with proven world champion Sykes already well inside the BMW tenth, and multiple race winner Laverty only joining the team this year. They are pedigree chums that most teams would find very palatable.

But time, tides, and recent racing results wait for no man’s reputation, and VDM is now a race winner, strong challenger and a hot ticket with many years of potential. He has a lot of things going for him, as Muir explained. “At the end of the day, on paper Michael has had better results over the past two or three years, on both riders. We believe he has the right pedigree, the right age.

"He was out of contract; there aren’t many riders who were going to be out of contract. For us it was a real, real tough decision but one that we think that would add a bit more depth and quality to the two riders we have at the moment. Simple as that we had to make a decision and it was made for the right reasons.”

I had barely got the question of what the bike is only just missing to reach full competitiveness when Muir retorted, “Out and out speed.”
He then expanded on the simple answer. “We would be having a different conversation now if we had completed the races we had scheduled from Phillip Island until where we are today, but we have not just had that time to give us, in these hot conditions and in this company, to try and get that next level up. We sadly feel short of the mark at Jerez.

"The track temperature killed us. But we are still lacking in top speed. I think we have made some really good steps in the chassis, really good steps on that side and in the electronics. They are starting to respond very well and Eugene has done a lot of good work with that. But you cannot forsake six, seven or ten km/h down the straights.

"You can get it fantastic on a qualifying tyre and both the riders are very quick on Q and single lap tyres, we know we can do that. But suddenly when you get in a race condition when you are toe-to-toe with all the rest of them and you pull out of the slipstream and you have zero ability to pass anyone on the brakes, or you are just closing your eyes and making ballsy moves that you just cannot get away with it in this class at the moment. If we had that bit of top speed power -you can see where we are at the moment - I think with a bit more top speed we could be another step further forward and challenging for the podium regularly.”

The next question, for a bike that is now a season-and-a-half old in its current spec, is does BMW as a manufacturer have to make a special roadbike engine for the long term, with an other 1000 - 2000 peak revs as a stock bike, to get the top speed required. The Ducati and, to a slightly lesser degree, new Honda are both revzillas.

A question for the longer-term future and BMW as a manufacturer, it seems, but this season at least uplift is expected. “There is certainly stuff that is going on in the background at the moment regarding the development of the current model bike,” said Muir. “We are working on our own aerodynamic work now, but when it comes to the out and out engine package, we have to wait and see what they come up with. At the moment it is a bit too early to say when it is going to come but I believe that with the concessions of what we are going to be getting, by November testing we will have a serious step forward.”

Another stage of development for BMW as a manufacturer is to provide/sell their bikes as a package to customer teams at this level again.
“There is a lot of talk about that,” said Muir, who would be somehow involved as there has to be a reference team from each manufacturer, and SMR is BMW’s integral partner. “There are talks going on with two teams at the moment,” said Muir. “Both are currently in the paddock. one is a Supersport team, one is a Superbike team. Cannot really say any more than that out of respect.

"The level of support we can give can only be for two riders, so we could not do any more than that. And it has very much got to fall in line with the idea and philosophy that we have. They have to run the same material as we have, same suspension, same wheels, so on and so forth. We want to try and not influence one or the other but hope that whichever team decides step up they go for it and can have the same expectations as we have. Groom a rider that is going to come through, get a rider on their books that is ready to get out there and challenge for the top six straight away. I think both these guys could do.”

Articles you may like


More WorldSBK

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram