Following his switch to the Eazi-Grip supported BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, Michael van der Mark sat down with the MOTUL FIM Superbike team in a question-and-answer session on Facebook as he divulged details about why he switched from the PATA Yamaha WorldSBK Team, preparations that are underway for the upcoming season and the differences between his 2020 Yamaha bike and the 2021 BMW machine as well as looking ahead to the 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season.
Questions had come in from the fans with the Dutchman asked the reasons for joining BMW. Van der Mark said: “I think the main reason I joined BMW is the new M 1000 RR. It was a difficult decision, but this made it a bit easier. It looks really promising and I think, for the future, the bike has a lot of potential. Already the S 1000 RR had a lot of potential, but the M should be a lot better. This is the reason why I chose to change manufacturer.
“It was a strange season because normally you speak with different teams during race weekends. I spoke with BMW when we were all in lockdown. It was a bit strange, but it wasn’t really a difficult decision for me in the end. Normally you look at the races, you look at the results of other riders and you speak a bit with them during race weekends. But we were just stuck at home.”
While testing has been limited so far in 2021, van der Mark did get his first taste of the BMW M 1000 RR machine he will compete on in 2021 at the BMW-owned Circuit of Miramas in France. Discussing this test and the 2021 off-season, he said: “I think one of the biggest changes is the wings on the bike. I’ve been riding with and without them, even in Estoril, and it makes a massive difference to the handling of the bike which is really positive. You see them on nearly every bike, but you have to get a feeling with them and use them before you can really judge it. I think it’s really positive and makes life for a rider a bit easier because the bike will wheelie less and so on, so this made the biggest difference.
“To be honest, the Miramas track is quite small so it was difficult to get the perfect feeling with the bike. We changed the handlebars and stuff like that. During a normal test you, wouldn’t take a lot of time to do it. Now, we are all set up to start the first test with a good feeling on the bike and the handlebars, seat position, everything ready.”
For the 2021 WorldSBK season, there will be three BMW teams on the grid with Bonovo MGM Action and RC Squadra Corse representing the German manufacturer with Jonas Folger and Eugene Laverty respectively alongside the factory team. Van der Mark discussed this, saying: “It’s good to have two more BMWs on the grid, especially for development. I think it’s more important to have two really fast riders with Eugene Laverty and Jonas Folger; two guys with a lot of experience. It’s good for the Championship to have them and to have two more BMWs is good for the whole project to develop the bike and make steps quicker.”
One challenge for van der Mark as he switches from the Yamaha YZF-R1 to the BMW M 1000 RR will be adapting to the new bike, including his riding style. Talking about his riding style as well as the difference between the two machines, van der Mark said: “First of all, consistent. I think that’s my riding style. I can be really aggressive; I can be really smooth. I think I’m a bit of a mix. For me, one thing the bike needs to do really well is to stop because I like hard and brake late, but to do that the bike needs to help me as well with this. If it does that, I feel quite good already. The Yamaha stops really well, which is something we have to improve on the BMW, but the BMW turns really tight compared to the Yamaha. Both have better and worse parts, so we need to pull them together!”