Phillip Island. After months of preparation, things are getting serious: next weekend, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and the brand new BMW S 1000 RR will start the 2019 FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK). The first races of the year will be held on 23rd and 24th February at the “Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit” in southern Australia. The race machines used by the two riders Tom Sykes (GBR) and Markus Reiterberger (GER) in WorldSBK are based on the new BMW S 1000 RR, which was presented to the world in November. Over winter, engineers at BMW Motorrad Motorsport have developed the necessary racing components for use in the world championship.
In preparation for the new BMW S 1000 RR race debut, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team completed two further days of testing on Monday and Tuesday at Phillip Island. The focus was on evaluating more new components and setting up the machines for the first race.
The season opener starts with two free practice sessions on Friday. On Saturday, Superpole qualification takes place, with the first race scheduled for 15:00 local time. The ten lap “Superpole Race”, a new introduction in WorldSBK, will start on Sunday at 12:00. This sprint will decide the starting grid for race two that afternoon at 15.00.
As part of the season opener, all media representatives are invited to the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team presentation on Friday evening in the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit paddock. There, Dr. Markus Schramm, Head of BMW Motorrad, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Marc Bongers, Team Principal Shaun Muir, the two riders and Andreas Lundgren, BMW Motorrad Australia General Manager, will be available for interviews.
Quotes ahead of the season opener at Phillip Island.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “The results of the two days of testing at Phillip Island are very positive. They confirmed the performance at the test days that we had over winter. We are very proud of the collaboration within the team, which first had to gel in this new configuration. We have all pulled together over the past few months, and we now can see the result of this good teamwork. That’s motivating! But we have to stay realistic and look ahead to the first race. That will be the first time for us to see where we really stand in race trim. We also know that we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but the base of the new BMW S 1000 RR offers a lot of potential. We are happy to be back and we really can’t wait to start the first race.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “We left the European tests in a very good position and a lot of hard work was carried out to make further improvements at Phillip Island. At the two days of testing here we could clearly see the benefits of the small but very significant improvements to the chassis. Tom went through all the things he wanted to test and had his best package which he ran on Tuesday afternoon in its final configuration. That is a very good base setting for him now to start the season. Markus has taken a big step forward after Portimão and is in a very strong position where we feel he can definitely compete for the top ten in the races at the coming weekend.”
Tom Sykes: “Testing has gone really well and after these two test days here at Phillip Island, I want to thank the whole BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team because we worked very well, we worked through a comprehensive list of items and possibilities and certainly boxed off a lot of things. So I am very happy and I really feel that given the limited time on the project everyone has been doing an incredible job. I don’t think that we could have asked for anything more during this testing period. Going into the race weekend now we know that it’s not going to be easy, obviously we need to work a little bit more in some areas, but I really do feel that we are heading in the right direction. We will go out on track, work on further improving the package on our BMW S 1000 RR and enjoy the racing. I feel that the potential is higher than we could have expected when starting the project.”
Markus Reiterberger: “I am pretty satisfied with the two test days in Australia. I immediately had a good feeling on the bike, and we worked well through our testing programme, so we can soon focus on fine-tuning the performance. The anticipation for the first race weekend is of course huge, because racing is always something special. On the other hand, I would not mind having a few more test laps to really get the maximum out of myself and the BMW S 1000 RR. We just need a little bit of time to understand the whole package, but I’m pretty happy so far, and I feel great in the team. The guys really give everything and work extremely hard. We also continuously get new options and things from Munich that we can test. You can really see how things are progressing well. Personally, I worked intensively on my fitness during the winter, and I am ready to kick off the season.”