After a short but busy winter break, ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team kicked off the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship with the new BMW M 1000 RR at Phillip Island, Australia. The ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team claimed top-ten finishes, but on the whole it was a challenging weekend for both BMW factory riders Scott Redding (GBR) and Michael van der Mark (NED). The best race result was a ninth place for Redding in the opening race on Saturday.
After the first two practice sessions were held in sunshine and high temperatures on Friday, the weather changed on Saturday. Light rain started to fall in the third free practice session, but it was dry again by Superpole. Van der Mark in twelfth place was the best of the BMW riders in an extremely tight field with Redding finishing in 13th.
The rain returned for the start of the Saturday race. Van der Mark soon climbed to ninth place, but crashed on lap two and was forced out of the race. Redding worked his way through the field and into sixth place, but dropped back to ninth in the closing stages as his rear tyre fell off a cliff.
It rained again on Sunday morning, but the Superpole race took place in bright sunshine. Van der Mark was again the best-placed BMW rider in tenth. Redding crossed the finish line 13th at the end of the ten-lap sprint. In race two on Sunday afternoon, the BMW racers failed to make it into the top ten. Van der Mark was twelfth again, with Redding, Gerloff and Baz picking up points in 13th, 14th and 15th place.
The WorldSBK caravan now heads straight to Indonesia, where the second round of the season will take place this weekend (3rd to 5th March) at Mandalika.
Shaun Muir – Team Principal
“We came out of the Australia round quite disappointed, as an overall it was a real struggle for the team. We knew from the two days test on Monday and Tuesday it was going to be challenge to get into the top 10 in dry conditions. Scott and Michael did their very best with what we gave them. We know we still have some work to do and that is quite clear with the overall finishes at Phillip Island. Moving to Mandalika for Round 2, we are quite optimistic that we can make a good step forward, we know that the layout will not hinder us here as much. We are hoping for three dry races and put Phillip Island behind us and come out of Indonesia with some positive progress.”
Michael Van Der Mark
“Sunday’s Superpole race was nice. I got a little bit tangled up on the first lap and lost some positions which was a shame as I lost some time, but then I was feeling okay. P10 was not quite where I wanted to be but I was quite happy with the feeling of the bike. In race two, I had a good start and I was feeling quite comfortable on the first laps. I struggled a bit in the last two sectors of the circuit but I tried to stay calm, and for a long time I was just behind a nice group. We were catching the big group ahead of us but unfortunately I then had a massive drop in the tyre. It was a shame but we learn. I think it was really important for us to be with the other guys for the first part of the race. Now the pace is there we just need to find a way to manage the tyres better, but Phillip Island is always difficult for tyre management. Now I am looking forward to Mandalika. We are still not where we want to be but I have a quite good feeling from Phillip Island’s race two.”
“It has been a difficult weekend. Mickey got off to a good start in race two, he had a clear lap. I was boxed in in the first two corners and kind of missed the run with them guys. Then it was just about getting in the rhythm and I ended up with the other two BMWs. It was just a battle between us. I was trying to push but in the end I could not get away so I just sat with them and raced, trying to maybe see what is different or what the bike is doing. Then in the end I made a pass on the two guys to finish 13th. We have a lot of work to do because we are suffering a lot. Mandalika maybe is different. We have to see. The track can make a big difference.”