Alcañiz. It never rains but it pours – that just about sums up Saturday at MotorLand Aragón (ESP) for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. The circuit near Alcañiz is hosting the fourth round of the 2020 FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK). Tom Sykes (GBR) and Eugene Laverty (IRL) finished 14th and 18th in Superpole qualifying. In the race itself, Sykes had to retire and Laverty came home in 16th place.
In the final few minutes of Superpole qualifying on Saturday morning, Sykes was on course for a top result. On his flying lap on qualifying tyres, he and the BMW S 1000 RR set the fastest time for the first sector. However, he then crashed out. As such, he had to settle for 14th place on the grid, with Laverty in 18th.
Laverty then fell on the way to the grid for race one, due to a mechanical error. He was able to start the race, and managed to work his way into 14th place. However, he was then handed a ride-through penalty as the team had worked on the bike on the grid for too long. This resulted in him dropping back and eventually narrowly missing out on the points in 16th place. Sykes climbed into 11th place in the early stages of the race but was then forced to retire on lap four with a technical issue.
Quotes after race one at MotorLand Aragón.
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “In Superpole, it was just not to be. Tom gave his all, he was clearly on for a front row start if he would have been successful completing the lap. But that’s what Superpole is like. From there it made it difficult to start from so far back. Eugene just had a front end problem, a lot of chatter, and effectively it is one lap and gone. So that was Superpole. We then had a brake-line fault, a mechanical error. For that, we apologize to Eugene, we will give him a better bike tomorrow. On Tom’s side, we had a recurring fault on the oil pressure and he had to retire the bike. We found the problem, and again, we are going to do better as a team, we will overcome these problems and make sure that they will not happen again. We will put today behind us and focus on tomorrow. We had a good team brief with all the guys, we consulted, we are going to make amends and come out fighting tomorrow, clean the slate and finish on a high. That’s what we do in a situation like this and it builds the team stronger as a group.”
Eugene Laverty: “My first lap in Superpole was my fastest one and I wanted to build from there but unfortunately I had problems with the front when I wanted to go with the qualifying tyre at the end and I wasn’t able to get a lap in as I went off the track. So starting from way down the field is always going to be tough but unfortunately in the sighting lap, we had a brake issue so I had to jump off the bike. I managed to get the bike back to the grid and the guys worked fantastically to repair it just about on time to get me starting the race. But unfortunately we ended being given a ride-through penalty because we were still working on the bike after the three-minute mark. Then Christophe Ponsson hat a massive crash in front of me and I had to go through the gravel to avoid him. So just everything that could go wrong did in a sense. I just have to forget today and work towards tomorrow.”
Tom Sykes: “It was a pity as the BMW S 1000 RR is just so easy to manage and so enjoyable and it feels like what I expect from a race bike. Regarding my crash in Superpole, I think I was just a little bit caught out. I did not do anything stupid but obviously I ran over the edge of the tyre on the front. It was a little bit my mistake and was disappointing because today with the set-up that we got, I have to say credit to all the guys, things were coming to the right place. In Superpole, I was on a potential pole position lap so obviously disappointed that I made a mistake. I left myself with a lot of work in the race but we made a good start and I was in a position where I felt comfortable, knowing that the lead is only a couple of seconds down the track. We had a very good race pace all weekend and today we were got to see if it was where it needed to be. But then we had a technical issue which was only a small oil leak but we had to pull out. Looking at the lap times I think we would have been able to be very strong. We’ll keep working and tomorrow is another day.”