BMW’s Tom Sykes believes that although the new M1000RR is not quite the finished article when compared to some rivals on the WorldSBK grid, the step forward in terms of engine development is clear for all to see.
Sykes will begin his third year with the Shan Muir-run team when he rolls down the Aragon pitlane on Friday morning and has a new team-mate in the shape of Michael van der Mark.
The Huddersfield rider, who was world champion in 2013, is of the opinion that his steed for this season is much improved over the ‘benchmark’ S1000RR but some more testing would have been useful.
It’s clear to see that there has been quite some significant step in terms of engine performance, which is a big relief, really. It definitely will help in the race situation. But along with that, there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes,” said Sykes.
“I can only tell you a fraction of what has been going on, the small changes to quite a number of areas which essentially added up to big change. So, the engine. We’ve got the electronics as well. Obviously a big talking point has been the new braking system from Nissin. So a lot, really. Small, little things with the chassis. A
“We are not quite at that luxury of fine-tuning our race setup yet, and that’s probably why you saw lots of, I would say, fundamental exits on the new M1000RR, because we’re basically gathering the information. Like I said, in an ideal world, I would like one more test, but we’re all big boys and on Friday we’ll have to put the dukes up together a little bit earlier than anticipated.
“We’re very close, but until we start putting everything together, I don’t think we have had a clear indication in any of the days that we’ve done testing because just to be blunt, there’s certainly two or three manufacturers where they’re working on setup.
“There’s doing a lot of tyre development for Pirelli, which means they’re happy with their setup. It looks to me like there’s a lot of bikes which quite a finished article. We’re not in that same category at the moment in terms of finished. So, until we know everybody is using the same tyre, we’ll never know.
“Classic example, beginning of last year we would always kind of, certainly in terms of race times beginning of 2020 I couldn’t be seeing myself always in the top five, but at the end of the test on black and white paper we were always outside of the top ten. That’s because people were using different tyres.
“Then when we turned up for the first test in Phillip Island, I think we were first or second. Everybody asked, what’s changed? What have you done in that short space of time? The simple answer is, we’re just using the same tyres as everybody else now. So in testing it doesn’t matter how many laps you spy from your competition, unless you know exactly what tires they’re running and how many laps on those tires you’ll never know until Friday morning.”
Sykes is full of praise for BMW and the M1000RR which the factory team and the two satellite riders - Eugene Laverty and Jonas Folger - will all campaignn from Friday.
“Massive credit is due to BMW. Already the last model, the current model of the S1000RR was a benchmark, in my opinion, for BMW’s project in world superbike. Obviously we had some limitations, so this is why I mean big credit to BMW because to bring let’s say a heavily-revised or even a new model with the M1000RR so soon, one and a half years after the release of the S1000RR, I think this shows the target, shows the ambition and also their commitment to the championship. O
“bviously we’re happy working out of this winter. We have certainly made progress, and like Shaun said, I think it was a good decision because we’ve had quality testing without really interruption. Doing a lot of testing. For me, our last test in Aragon was very well-structured. We got through a good number of items. Honestly, I’d love one more test before the start of the season but it is what it is. We’re ready to go racing.
“Like I said, third year together now and hopefully we can start to see some of that effort that not just myself – I put a lot of effort into my racing, on and off the track. That’s what my whole life is aimed towards. So not only my effort, but all of the BMW and ultimately the SMR setup. So really looking forward to it. Hopefully we can make the third year together more successful and get the results which I feel we all deserve.”