Assen. The BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team scored more points with the new BMW S 1000 RR at Assen (NED) than any other race weekend so far in this season’s FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK). Markus Reiterberger (GER) finished sixth in the two races, which were both held on Sunday. Team-mate Tom Sykes (GBR) came home tenth and seventh. The duo’s haul for the weekend was 35 points – their biggest score so far. The TT Circuit Assen hosted round four of the 2019 WorldSBK season.
Race one, which was postponed due to snow on Saturday, was held on Sunday morning. It was followed in the afternoon by race two. Reiterberger started both races from third on the grid with Sykes in sixth.
Reiterberger climbed into second place thanks to an outstanding start in race one. For seven laps, he was hot on the heels of leader Alvaro Bautista (ESP / Ducati) before dropping a few positions. Despite that, Reiterberger still came home sixth to claim his best result of the season so far. Sykes was running eighth going into the final lap, but unfortunately conceded two places late on. In race two, Reiterberger initially dropped back to seventh, but was always in touch with the leading group. Sykes fell to ninth place after the start, but soon climbed into eighth place behind Reiterberger. Both riders passed Leon Haslam (GBR / Kawasaki) in the final stages of the race. Reiterberger crossed the finish line in sixth place again, followed just 0.014 seconds later by Sykes in seventh.
Quotes after the races at Assen.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “We can be very happy with the race weekend at Assen. We are continuing to move in the right direction and are closing in on the front-runners. Markus, in particular, took a very big step forward. With third place on the grid and two top-six finishes, he has shown that he is feeling more and more comfortable on the RR. Tom’s results do not reflect his performance. In Superpole, the red flag cost him a place towards the very front of the grid. The two races were not easy for him, starting from sixth place. I am sure, under different circumstances, that his results could have been better. After back-to-back races in Aragón and Assen, we now have a four-week break before the next round at Imola. We will use that time to work on more updates for our new BMW S 1000 RR, to ensure that we continue to move forward.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “It’s been a very positive weekend for Markus and after quite a difficult Aragón round, he has turned things around here at Assen. He really deserves his two sixth-place race finishes and his third position for both starts. The hard work paid off and he finally found a good direction to carry forward with; hopefully this is transferable to Imola and he can pick up where he’s left off here at Assen. So: well done, Markus. Tom’s a little bit frustrated. The red flag in Superpole put him on the second row while it could have been a front row start. He had two average starts in the races and it took him too long to get back into a strong position again, so both races where difficult for him. Race one in particular, because he overrode the front, lost all the grip of the front tyre and so the lap times got slower and he ended up going backwards. In the second race he tried a SC0 rear tyre which he didn’t get working hard enough, he came strong in the race too late but he managed to pick off Leon Haslam to get seventh at the flag and almost beat his team-mate. We will take the positives from Assen, four strong points scoring positions overall and we are looking forward to Imola.”
Markus Reiterberger: “I am really happy. The weekend at Assen was great and a big thank you goes to my team for their hard work. We have taken another step and I felt really good on the RR all weekend. I got off to a great start in the opening race and was able to match the pace at the front of the field for the first few laps. After seven or eight laps, however, I had a few issues with the grip on the rear tyre – there was quite a lot of movement entering and exiting the corners. I took wider lines and consequently made two mistakes, and at one point I was forced off while overtaking. Despite that, however, I was able to finish in the top six. The second race also went well. We made a few changes to the balance of the bike. Unfortunately, my start was not so good in race two and we lost a few positions. I was able to maintain the same level for a relatively long time. In the end, I fancied myself to finish fifth, but I lost a lot of time behind (Leon) Haslam. That allowed (Chaz) Davies to escape in fifth place. We can now recharge our batteries a bit and prepare for the next races. We are heading in the right direction and will continue to work on further improving the chassis.”
Tom Sykes: “Everyone has seen the potential of the BMW S 1000 RR is high considering how early the project is. Although the positions weren’t what I was hoping for today, on the positive side we have gained a lot of information. I was able to see where I am losing out and during the race that confirmed it. We will try to improve now where we are missing out and moving forward we know that we will progress on this in the next race. Markus rode really well today; I knew he would be strong from his race here last year on the Superstock bike. One of the positives we can take forward is that in general the RR is heading in the right direction. We have been consistently around five seconds from P2 in most races so given my experience and the level of the whole BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, I think we will get to where we need to be through the season.”