The BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team kicked off the final race weekend in Europe after completing today’s free practice sessions at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve (Portugal). BMW Factory rider Eugene Laverty again stepped in for Tom Sykes as he was declared unfit to ride by the circuit medical team. Eugene began his FP1 well and was inside the top 10 until he crashed at T8 in dramatic fashion. Fortunately, Eugene was OK, however his BMW M1000RR was damaged in the crash and was unable to finish the session. Eugene made some changes to his bike for the FP2 and posted some respectable times as he ran a race simulation on the same tyre throughout. His overall position on day 1 was P15.
Michael van der Mark was fast out the garage in this morning’s FP1 session and immediately was setting good lap times. Throughout the session, Mickey stayed in the top 10 places with just +0.803 separating him to first place. In FP2 Mickey struggled to make big improvements to his times from FP1 and slipped down into 11th overall for the day.
“From Michaels side it was a frustrating day to be honest. We can’t give him a chassis he is comfortable with. He is happy with the electronics and power delivery but just can’t seem to finish the corner off and attack it like he wants to which is really holding him back at the moment, so we have a lot of work to do overnight. Hopefully we can make a step, but three tenths will move us up into the top 6. But clearly 11th is a tough one too take.
Eugene had a tough day. He was on a quick lap this morning in FP1 and touched the white line at T8 and the result was catastrophic. A lot of damage to the bike which the guys did a great job in getting him out in FP2. In the second session, Eugene went out on the same rear tyre the full session and his fastest laps were right at the end, which is promising so I think he will make some progress tomorrow. Overall, a tough day at the office but we look forward to tomorrow and I think we will see a step up from both riders.”
“To be honest we started off quite well today. I felt good the first few laps this morning and we had good pace right away. We thought we could improve the bike in the afternoon but for some reason we couldn’t improve, which was quite disappointing but as always, we keep working. Our pace isn’t that bad but it’s really tight at the top, so we need to find a couple of tenths to be able to fight with the guys ahead. We will analyse and make some big changes for tomorrow’s FP3 as we need to make that jump forward.”
“Today started out disastrous with the crash I had this morning. I touched the white line at T8 just as Leon Haslam had done just before but I didn’t expect it to be like ice and crashed quite suddenly. I was lucky to come away unscathed but unfortunately destroyed the bike. In the end it has become a positive as I destroyed that chassis so I had to try a different spec chassis which turned out to be better for me. Midway through FP2 we used my electronic set up from earlier in the year, so in terms of traction control and power delivery that transformed the bike. It now feels like my bike I had at the end of 2020. So I finished the day very pleased.”
WorldSBK Saturday at Portimão: Michael van der Mark retires from battle for podium through no fault of his own after strong performance
A strong performance saw Michael van der Mark (NED) from the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team aim for the podium in Saturday’s race at Portimão (POR). However, he was forced to retire six laps from the end, having fallen after another rider hit his rear wheel. Eugene Laverty (IRL), standing in for Tom Sykes (GBR) again at Portimão, finished the first race in ninth place. Jonas Folger (GER) from the Bonovo MGM Racing team was racing at Portimão for the first time and crossed the line in 15th position. The Portuguese racetrack is hosting the eleventh round of the FIM Superbike World Championship 2021 (WorldSBK).
In Superpole on Saturday morning, van der Mark claimed fifth place in the second row of the grid, on his BMW M 1000 RR. Laverty was also going well but fell after sliding during the closing stage of the qualifying session. That prevented him from bettering the lap time already posted and he finished in 13th place. Folger finished Superpole in 19th position.
Van der Mark initially fell back a few places at the start of the first race. However, a great recovery performance saw him move back up to swiftly become part of the chasing pack battling for the third spot on the podium. However, his charge to the podium came to an end on lap 15 out of 20 when a rider touched his rear wheel on entry to turn five, causing him to fall. Van der Mark got back up and re-joined but was forced to head for the pits and retire. Laverty moved up into the top ten at the start. As the race progressed, he fell back a little but then found his rhythm, crossing the finish line in ninth place. After 20 race laps, Folger secured 15th place to score one point.
“Eugene did a good job today. He rode a good race and came strong at the end which we know he can do. Superpole was difficult for him and we didn’t get the Q tyre to work for him very well but in the end, he did a good job so credit to Eugene for that performance. I am still a bit lost for words on the Michael situation. Nevertheless, we have to dust ourselves down and build Mickey up overnight and get him ready for the Superpole race. We are clearly disappointed as we had the podium in sight which is what I think we deserved this weekend.”
Marc Bongers – Motorsport Director
“We made good progress in the third practice session this morning. Michael gave an outstanding performance in qualifying. He often struggles with the qualifying tyres and it was amazing to get him into fifth place. Eugene had an unfortunate fall and had to be content with 13th place. Mickey didn’t get the start quite right and he was back in twelfth place after the first few turns, but once again, he gave a very, very good chasing performance. We were right in the battle for the podium. Michael said that he would have made it and he had already moved into an overtaking position. Unfortunately, Andrea Locatelli then touched him from behind and caused the fall. That finished off the race for him. It was a real shame as he was clearly in with a chance of reaching the podium. So, we’ll start the Superpole race tomorrow from P5 and then we’ll see what’s possible. Eugene rode a consistent race and I am confident that he will be able to take another step forward tomorrow at his home circuit.”
Michael Van Der Mark
“This morning we changed a lot on the bike compared to yesterday and I felt really good in FP3. In Superpole, I had a good lap and I ended up starting in P5. That was a good step for us and I was really happy with the starting position. During race one, I messed up the start and got stuck in traffic at T1, so I lost a lot of places. After that I had a good pace and was catching the group in front of me. I managed to get past those guys and had some good battles but unfortunately, I got taken out at T5 by Locatelli which was a shame because we were fighting for the podium with Bautista and Baz. But that is racing, and we try again tomorrow.”
“I am happy with that race result because we have been working progressively forward all weekend. The guys did a fantastic job in making the bike feel like my bike which made me feel like home. We qualified low but had a fantastic first few corners and gained a lot of positions. Unfortunately, we had a problem with the clutch at the start and had issues in corner entry but once I got used to this problem, I settled into a good rhythm and got a good result. Without this problem at the beginning, I think we could have been higher up today.”
Milestone at Portimão: Michael van der Mark records first win for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team on the BMW M 1000 RR
The chequered flag for the Superpole race on Sunday morning at Portimão (POR) was greeted with boundless celebrations in the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team pit area. Michael van der Mark (NED) won the race on his BMW M 1000 RR and the team celebrated the first win for BMW Motorrad Motorsport since returning to the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK). The result marks the next important milestone for the project. Dr. Markus Schramm, Head of BMW Motorrad, was at Portimão for the race weekend and was the first to offer his congratulations.
Van der Mark was already on fast form during the rainy warm-up session, posting the best time on Sunday morning. The rain had stopped in time for the Superpole race but the circuit had not dried out. Starting from fifth on the grid, van der Mark had already moved up to third by the end of lap one. He then passed Toprak Razgatlioglu (TUR / Yamaha) and moved into second place on lap two. On the next lap, he left Scott Redding (GBR / Ducati) behind to take the lead. Van der Mark never looked likely to surrender his lead, claiming the long-awaited first win after ten laps – fully 5.330 seconds ahead of his rivals.
Having won the Superpole race, van der Mark started the afternoon’s second race from pole position. That race took place in sunny conditions on a dry surface. However, a technical issue prevented him from mounting a real attack and he completed the second race in sixth place.
Eugene Laverty (IRL), racing in place of Tom Sykes (GBR) again at Portimão, moved up from 13th on the grid to ninth position in the Superpole race. In the afternoon’s second race, he crossed the line in tenth place.
The eleventh round of the season at Portimão marks the end of the European season in the WorldSBK 2021. The racing continues in two weeks with the penultimate event of the season in Argentina, while the finale will take place in Indonesia in November.
Dr. Markus Schramm, Head of BMW Motorrad: “It is something special to secure the first win for a project like this. I also think that we as a team have deserved this, and it shows that we are heading in the right direction. We are all proud of this win, which is an important step for the project that we are aiming to develop gradually. Congratulations to Michael van der Mark, the entire BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and everyone involved in this success. I would like to thank them all for their efforts and their hard work.”
“I am really, really happy for everyone in the project. We have worked very, very hard to get into this position. We are ambitious and we have proved that by the steps we have made over the years. It is still very early in the project considering we lost almost a year due to Covid. I am pleased for Mickey as well. To put him back on the podium and then to win that race just gives him the confidence and knowing we are going in the right direction. This weekend we knew all along, from qualifying on. We had a good pace in the wet and in the dry and I think that was the reward for him and the whole team so I am really pleased for everybody. In race two, Mickey made an okay start. We lost a few places but he was in the right group but we had a technical issue in the middle of the race. At that point he was second quickest on track and I think the podium for sure was in sight, but with the circumstances, the wind conditions and everything, we take that sixth position. For Eugene to stand in on the second weekend in a row he did a fantastic job. To finish in the top-ten against guys who have been racing in the championship for the full season just shows the quality there so he has done exactly what we expected from him. Overall, it has been a successful weekend. Now we are heading overseas and we hope we can get Tom fit and ready for Argentina and get the team back to full strength.”
“This win is a real milestone for our project. It is just brilliant and I would like to thank the entire team. Thanks to BMW Motorrad as well for supporting this project. The conditions were pretty special this morning with the wet surface. Mickey showed during the warm-up that he is extremely fast and then produced a superb performance in the Superpole race. We know that the motorbike also goes really well in the wet. None of us will forget him crossing the line in a hurry. The pole position then gave us the best starting position you can have for the second race. Unfortunately, Mickey was struggling with an issue but that cannot spoil our delight at his victory. Eugene was not so happy with the motorbike in the wet this morning, but we were still able to make progress for the Superpole race and he recorded another two top-ten finishes. Overall, it was a really positive weekend for us.”
Michael Van Der Mark
“Yeah, it was a pretty good day. Of course, this morning it was nice to get a win with the BMW M1000 RR. It was a good race and I already felt good in the rain from this morning, and this carried through into the race, even when it started to dry, I still had a good feeling on the bike. I’m happy to take the win for BMW Motorrad and the whole team. Race 2 I didn’t get a good start, but I felt I had good pace but unfortunately with had some issues which cost me a lot of time and then my race from there was a bit lonely as I couldn’t catch up the guys in front. We have to learn, but at the end it was not a bad Sunday.”
“It was an OK day, but I am not satisfied with the race results as I wanted to be further up the field. We have tried to make the bike mine and we did make some progress in the dry race this afternoon, but I still couldn’t get the bike to load the front and have agility, so it was tough to finish like that. The wet race was nice. I did struggle in the first three laps to get heat into the rear tyre but once I got some temperature in the tyre it was enjoyable, and we got a good result from it.”