Change was in the air at the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team in 2022 as Scott Redding joined the team for the MOTUL FIM Superbike world Championship as the German manufacturer looked to build on their race-winning 2021 campaign. Three podiums fell the way of BMW but they were locked into a battle with Honda for fourth in the Manufacturers’ Championship standings, eventually coming out on top after a last-round showdown. Team Principal of the BMW factory team, Shaun Muir, looks back on a rollercoaster season for the German manufacturer and outlines his ambitions for next season.
BMW’s campaign was disrupted by two separate injuries to Michael van der Mark, first in pre-season testing where he missed all the action and then on his return at the Estoril Round which forced him to sit out until after the summer break. It meant the BMW factory team had no reference for Scott Redding on the M 1000 RR as Illia Mykhalchyk replaced the Dutchman. Despite showing impressive pace, it was Mykhalchyk’s first outing on the WorldSBK-spec BMW machine as he made his debut in the Championship.
Evaluating how BMW’s season started and how van der Mark’s injuries impacted the team, Muir said: “When we look at where we started with Scott, we had a really, really tough time in pre-season testing. Scott found it really difficult. Went to Aragon and he was really lost. Didn’t have Michael. Mykhalchyk stood in for Mickey so we completely lost our reference point and, obviously, Loris was new to the Bonovo team, so we didn’t have a reference on that side; only Eugene. From the whole group, both Bonovo and the factory team, we were all struggling really to find our level. As soon as Michael got back, effectively Estoril, he was injured again. It took Scott maybe four rounds to get any real feeling. He had an okay Assen and then moving forward from Assen it started to come to him a little bit. He definitely needs more time on the bike and more testing, but we became a little bit caught up in trying to get Scott comfortable instead of developing the bike, and I think that was one of the areas where we would’ve done things slightly differently.”
The season started at MotorLand Aragon in April with Redding scoring only a single point over three races at the Spanish venue, before improving his results and scoring three podiums in three rounds at Donington Park, Autodrom Most and Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours; the latter his best result of the season with second place. The best results of the season came after BMW introduced a raft of upgrades including a new swingarm, helping them to beat Honda in the Manufacturers’ Championship,
Muir added: “When the updated bike comes out, it’s got some ergonomic changes to that. The chassis should be better for us, the engine characteristics should be better for us, the gearbox will be better for us. We’ll have an evolution of the Kalex swingarm which is well publicised that we got in the middle of the year. I think that made small differences but not the main differences. I think the main difference for us was that Scott settled down. Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) started to find some pace as well, but it was clear to us that we just needed more time and more laps under our belts. Coming out of that three podiums on the spin, and the steps we’d made in terms of the balancing of the chassis, I’d like to say, with the proper base setting that Scott could refer back to and the Kalex swingarm, the new link we had, it really gave us a complete new base setting that we could move forward with. That’s effectively what we did in the middle of the season, but we didn’t manage to kick on from there and quite a few others have done that, so that’s where we lost momentum.”
Muir also discussed where BMW have been making strong improvements throughout the last couple of seasons as the German manufacturer aim to become a consistent podium challenger and race winner with Redding and van der Mark. Their last win game in a mixed-conditions race at Portimao in 2021 when van der Mark took victory, which ended a nine-year drought for the brand, and they will be looking to repeat that win sooner rather than later.
Discussing this, Muir said: “One of the big things we’ve worked on between last year and this year was getting race consistency out of the tyre and that’s definitely something we have improved upon. We just really haven’t had those results to show for it, but we certainly haven’t been sliding down the grid at two-thirds race distance which we would do frequently in the past. There isn’t a one tick item that’s going to give us that success we’re looking for. It’s the consistency of all those parts: the electronics, the engine, the chassis. That’s where I feel, going into winter, we’ll be able to consolidate a little bit more. It needs a fit Michael. It needs Scott to really be on his game to take us forward.”