The BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team today entered new territory with the FIM Superbike World Championship as they completed the opening day of practice at the Czech circuit Most. Tom Sykes was the fastest of the BMW’s in this mornings FP1 session as he finished in P7 (1’34.006). Teammate Michael van der Mark finished just outside the top 10 with lap time of (1’34.267).
The afternoons session was hampered by mixed conditions with minimal riders opting to go out for FP2. Both Michael and Tom decided not to take part in the second session with the view of better weather for tomorrows free practice 3 session.
“From what we can see the circuit is nice track and a good layout. Everyone seems to be happy, although a few concerns on the amount of run off. This morning’s FP1 went reasonably ok. Tom ran a full session with the same tyres and secured a solid seventh position. I think there was 10 riders around him that used the SCX tyre which gave him an advantage, so he had a good start to the day. Michael made a couple of changes to gearing and a quick change of tyre at the end of the session, so generally happy with him as well. It’s a shame this afternoon we were not able to try those settings again in dry conditions. Unfortunately, in FP2 it was not dry enough, yet it was also not wet enough to do any significant testing, so we made a decision to wait and look forward to tomorrow’s sessions.”
“Looking at the weather forecast for the next days and for safety concerns it made absolutely no sense to go out this afternoon. It’s a shame, as we could have definitely used the time to get some more information about the set up. We had a fairly good morning but there was not much data to pull from this. But now we have more time analyse overnight and we will go for it tomorrow.”
“We came here with a clear plan of a base set up for the BMW M 1000 RR, and It seems it has been the strongest and most consistent in quite some time, which I am happy about. This morning I was able to go out with the harder tyres and really learn and understand the circuit and even from that we had a good plan for the bike going into this afternoon. Unfortunately, this afternoon we didn’t go out on track to try these things due to the weather. But tomorrow is another day and hopefully the sun will come back, and we all can have a safe weekends racing.”
“It was nice to learn a new track again. To be honest its quite a fun circuit as there are some fast corners, some slow corners so it’s quite difficult, but I had fun. This morning we didn’t do that bad, but we stayed out on the harder tyre and we struggled a little bit with changing direction. We had some ideas to try for this afternoon but unfortunately it was wet, so we have a lot of things to try tomorrow morning.”
Saturday in the Czech city of Most began with a strong Superpole result for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team but ended with a disappointing race result. The FIM Superbike World Championship is making its first appearance at Most, where it is staging round six of the 2021 season. In Superpole, Tom Sykes (GBR) of the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team finished fourth on his BMW M 1000 RR, narrowly missing out on the front row of the grid. He then came home ninth in race one. Sykes’ team-mate Michael van der Mark (NED) made an impressive fightback in the race before crashing out. Jonas Folger (GER) from the Bonovo MGM Racing team retired with a technical issue.
Sykes came up just 0.015 seconds short of a place on the front row of the grid in Saturday morning’s Superpole qualifying. However, fourth place also put him in a good position going into the race. van der Mark had to settle for 17th place in Superpole. Folger, who had crashed in the morning’s third free practice session, qualified 21st.
Sykes climbed into third place at the start of race one. However, he went wide in turn one while having to avoid other riders and slotted back into fifth place. On lap five, he again headed straight on in turn one when he was touched by another bike. Finding himself in tenth place, Sykes attempted to work his way back to the front of the field, but then had issues with the rear tyre. He ultimately crossed the finish line in ninth place.
Starting from 17th on the grid, van der Mark launched a spirited comeback on his M RR. However, having climbed into eighth place, that comeback came to an abrupt end. The Dutchman was one of several riders who crashed out of Saturday’s race. Folger had been continuously moving up the field towards a points finish until a technical issue forced him to retire on lap seven.
“We always aim for the first two rows as it’s a great position to be in and Tom did just that in Superpole. In the race, Tom got pushed wide going into the first corner and reacted quickly not to lose many positions and time. The SC0 was the tyre of choice for the race and he got into a pretty lonely battle at the end of the day so he will equally be disappointed to finish 26 seconds off the win. Michael had a difficult qualifying session but come the race he did true Michael van der Mark style to battle and come through into a good position. He was doing lap times in that race he hasn’t found all weekend, so I am more pleased he was able to find that comfortable feeling and his confidence ahead of tomorrow. Unfortunately, he crashed at T20 which is easy to do with the temperatures increasing. But we are not totally disappointed, we will come back stronger tomorrow as we gained a lot of information.”
“The outcome of the race has been disappointing. In Superpole, Tom gave a strong performance, he was right up there, and his race simulations looked good in practice. During the race, he had to abort at T1 twice going straight on, so he lost several positions throughout. Mickey had a very disappointing qualifying but, in the race, made up in the early stages as he usually does. He had good pace during the race and was catching the P6, P7 group in front of him which would have been a good result to come home with, but he unfortunately crashed. So we take the positive point from today that the pace from Michael was there, but if you don’t bring it home you get no points, so it was disappointing overall. Jonas unfortunately retired due to an engine failure, so we have to look into the cause. Now we hope for a better day tomorrow.”
“The qualifying result for sure was nice. When we put the Q tyre into the BMW M 1000 RR, I am able to ride the bike much more naturally, and the bike does things much better. But unfortunately for the race there was a mix of tyres. We went down the safer route and this certainly did not help us. After the start, going into T1 I was in there and I’ve been happy with my braking all weekend, but the guys had stopped, and I didn’t want to collect anyone, so I took the option to spoil my first lap. Then the second time somebody was up the inside of me and touched my handlebar, so I wasn’t able to make the turn. For tomorrow, we will look to improve the set up, and we will revisit the tyre choice. Overall, I am a little bit disappointed, also disappointed with the final race result but we have learnt a lot today. Tomorrow we will get two more chances.”
Michael Van Der Mark
“It was a really disappointing day, to be honest. In Superpole, I had bad traffic on both outings on the Q tyre, which was such bad luck. It’s a shame as I felt we could really make a step forward, so it was not easy starting from P17 on the grid. Anyway, in the race I got a good start and had good pace. I was fighting my way towards the front and was feeling good with the bike but unfortunately when I was sat in P8 I lost the front going into T20. I was trying hard so it’s a shame because we lost some valuable points. It was a difficult day overall, but we can be happy with the pace we had in race one.”
The Autodrom Most debut in the FIM Superbike World Championship ended with a solid day of racing for BMW Motorrad Motorsport. In the Superpole race on Sunday morning, Tom Sykes (GBR) and Michael van der Mark (NED) from the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team finished fifth and eleventh. In the afternoon’s second race, van der Mark climbed ten places to finish as the best-placed BMW rider in seventh. Sykes came home in ninth place. Jonas Folger (GER) from BMW Team Bonovo MGM Racing narrowly missed out on the points in race two, finishing 16th.
First on Sunday morning was the Superpole race, which Sykes started from fourth place. He lost one position in the turmoil at the start, before holding onto fifth place right through to the finish after ten laps of racing. Van der Mark climbed into eleventh place from 17th on the grid. Folger was 18th, having started 21st.
Van der Mark gave another eye-catching performance in race two on Sunday afternoon, gaining ten positions with an impressive fightback. Having started 17th, he crossed the finish line 22 laps later in seventh place, just half a second outside the top five. After the start, van der Mark had to take evasive measures to avoid a multi-bike crash, before launching his assault on the front of the field. By lap three he had reached the top ten. After seven laps, he was running ninth. The Dutchman climbed into seventh place on lap 17. Team-mate Sykes spent the majority of the race in the top six, but then fell back a few positions to ninth in the final third of the race. Folger, who again started from 21st place, raced into 17th place on the opening lap. He then continued to make progress into 16th place and eventually crossed the finish line in that position, just 0.210 seconds outside the points.
“The Superpole race gave us everything we had hoped, all but the fact we didn’t quite get that ninth position that Michael needed to give him an increased grid position. Tom made a really good job on the ‘X’ tyre and did well to finish fifth. It was a real shame for Mickey; if he had just got into ninth position it would have made a real difference in main feature race. Nevertheless, Michael did really well not to get tangled up in a crash in the first corner and got to work really quick and one by one picked off the riders in front of him. I think another lap and we could have had sixth, but it proves how strong Michael is feeling with the BMW M 1000 RR, so overall a good job by Michael. Tom got a good start but got a bit stuck in the middle of the race really and couldn’t improve his lap time. He got passed by a few riders but still commendable to finish ninth. So, overall, we leave Most frustrated on Friday, not so bad on Saturday and a lot happier Sunday.”
“I think we can be pleased with the results today. Tom had a very good Superpole race and didn’t have to go straight on at T1 so he could stick in his fifth position and brought it home very well. Michael had a good catch up all the from 17th, but the first lap was difficult and he lost nearly five seconds to the front runners in the first lap. He finished one second off P9 which would have given us ninth position on the grid, but it was not meant to be so we started 17th again with Mickey for the feature race. In race two, Michael confirmed his very good pace and to come all the way from 17th to seventh is pleasing, although this confirms that you need to start in those first three rows. With Tom, we will have to see which issues he had. He was still quite close in the group but couldn’t hold his position and dropped down to ninth. Jonas had another difficult day so we will have to investigate what is going on there, but he doesn’t have his mojo at the moment. Overall, it was nice to be in Most, and to have the fans back with us. It is a nice track layout however with some safety points to be raised for next year.”
“It is what it is, I’m not entirely happy. In the sprint race I was able to maintain ten laps but in the second race I was struggling to just finish off the turn in the latter stages. There is still work to be done. We made a couple of small changes but we can’t do what our competitors are doing in the last eight laps. We have learnt a lot this weekend and certainly I’ve been close to several bikes, so I know where we are strong and where we need to work on. Overall, it was not the best weekend but there were some positives in Superpole and in the sprint race, so now for the longer race we can look to improve that package and keep working.”
Michael Van Der Mark
“I think the at the end of the weekend it was not too bad. Especially this morning in the Superpole race I had such good pace, I improved over a second compared to yesterday and I was really happy on the bike. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good start, I was a bit unlucky at T1 and couldn’t gain as many positions as I hoped so for race two I had to start from 17th again. The first run off the line was good and then the bike started to wheelie so we lost a little bit of time. Something happened at T1, but I was quite smart and took a tight line and avoided a lot of people. After that we had good pace and I was catching the guys in front one by one but I just couldn’t get by Rinaldi. Together we passed some people and in the end I tried to grab sixth or fifth. Overall, I think after all the struggles this weekend the team deserved a solid result.”