Michael van der Mark claimed BMW’s first WorldSBK victory in eight years after Sunday morning’s wet Superpole sprint.
Van der Mark and the BMW M1000RR have not had the best of first season marriages but there have been signs that old Michael is still there, and the new BMW has some untapped capabilities, despite its level and some worrying tech issues.
A win, even in wet conditions, seemed too far away to grasp but VDM won the Superpole race on the harder option full wet tyre, the first for BMW since Nurburgring 2013, in the hands of Chaz Davies.
The rider said he was not sure he would get a win in 2021, but he did know that the wet was a friend to him and his bike. “To be honest, the first time I rode the M1000RR in the wet was in Aragon. I felt really good, so I knew that in a wet race we could do really well,” he said on Sunday.
“This would be shown in Donington in Superpole. We did quite good. But this morning, I must say I went out and felt really strong straightaway. I was really enjoying it, first of all. We had the hard rain tyre, which is a bit in our favour. We did not have this in Barcelona where I was struggling quite a lot. I had a good pace, but I just struggled. So, I was just really happy it was here and I could use it.”
VDM’s knowledge of the hard rain tyre made it a better option for him than the softer one. “Not enough experience,” he said of the softer one. “We have to find out with this bike what we have to change, because there must be something because if they just keep bringing that one, we have to use it. So, we need some more experience and need some more investigation how to make that one work.”
Van der Mark wasn’t sure that it had been eight years or so since BMW won a race, but he knew it was a long time.
“Yeah, I didn’t know the amount of years but I knew it was the first one,” said Michael. “I was really happy, but I still feel if we can get the one in the dry, is the real.”
The bike had some issues in the second long race, just a few hours after his win.
“To be honest, I had some problems,” he said of the afternoon battle. “The bike switched off a couple of times. We had some mechanical problems. I don't know what. Different kinds of issues. That’s why I lost a lot of time. I was riding around a bit frustrated, which made me lose even more time. So, it’s strange for us because the problem I had in this race I haven’t had it all year or in any session. Can’t blame anyone. We just need to find out why this happened. The bike just stopped. I could restart it, rolling. You lose a lot of time. I lost quite a lot of confidence.”
The BMW team needed a confidence boost and that win gave it to them, the reaction was like what, Michael? “It’s a big present for all the guys because we had more downs than ups this year, also for me personally. So, it’s good for the guys. We have some nice pictures. It’s a nice trophy. Everybody is really happy and proud. We all know we’re not there yet.”
The timing of this race win could not be better as the BMW Motorrad big boss, Dr Schramm, was in town to see his team in action. Van der Mark joked, “Yeah. I told him just bring more rain! But then he came with sunshine. I think it was good. It’s nice to see that he has such a passion for racing. Unfortunately, he was there when we had some problems. It’s good that he was there when we won, but also he saw that it’s not easy for us. It’s good to show him what we can do, but also good to show him what we just can’t do right now.”