Munich. The debut season for the new BMW S 1000 RR in the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) reaches its grand finale in Qatar. This weekend, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and its riders Tom Sykes (GBR) and Markus Reiterberger (GER) will contest the final races of the year at ‘Losail International Circuit’ near the capital Doha.
After just a few months of development, the racing version of the new RR brings the curtain down on its first season in WorldSBK at Phillip Island (AUS) at the end of February. The debut season was intended as a learning year, with the goal being to gradually close the gap on the top teams. Sykes presented the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team with its first podium at Misano (ITA) in June. Since then, the team has celebrated a further three podium finishes and one pole position.
One significant feature of the Qatar finale is that the races will start at 20:00 in the evening and will be held under floodlights. The entire schedule will also be brought forward one day. The race weekend kicks off with the first free practice sessions on Thursday. The Superpole qualifying and first main race are scheduled for Friday, followed by the Superpole race and the second main race on Saturday.
Quotes ahead of the races at Doha.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “Time flies. It only seems like yesterday that we lined up for the first time with the new BMW S 1000 RR at Phillip Island. We now head to the final races of our debut season in WorldSBK. We can be proud of what we have achieved in our first year. The podium finishes, in particular, were highlights. However, it is also important for us to consistently finish in the top six in this high-class field. We achieved that very often. There were obviously setbacks, but that is part and parcel of motor racing and is by no means unusual, particularly in a learning year. Despite all the success we have enjoyed, we must not forget that we are still developing the RR and still have things to learn in some areas. We are very much looking forward to Doha. It will be another challenge for us, but one we are happy to face. It’s all about gathering more information we can work with over the winter break.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “After a quite frustrating weekend at Argentina we now come to our final round of the season and we want to finish on a high. Overall, we had some good gains in straight-line speed at the last round in Argentina. We hope to carry that into the Qatar round where we know that we will need speed on the long straight. Equally, we feel the BMW S 1000 RR will be very strong on other parts of the circuit, with the fast and flowing aspects giving us some definite advantages over the competition. I think there’s an outside chance we can challenge for the podium. It would be a sweet finish to our first year in this partnership. The whole team has worked extremely hard and deserves a final bit of success before we focus on 2020.”
Tom Sykes: “I am really looking forward to the races in Doha. For me, it’s always a great event there underneath the floodlights. I really enjoy the circuit layout. It seems quite unbelievable that we are already at the end of the season but certainly the development on the BMW S 1000 RR continues. Doha is a quite different circuit in terms of the general layout, so I’m really looking forward to trying the bike there and hopefully we can get a good result to finish off what I believe has been a very strong debut season for the new RR.”
Markus Reiterberger: “I hope for an improvement in Qatar after the difficult weekend in Argentina. I know the circuit from 2016, when I raced there in WorldSBK. I hope the track will suit our new BMW S 1000 RR and am looking forward to the race weekend in Qatar. My goal is to end the season as strongly as possible. I want to work well with the team again. Together, we will try to make some progress. The weekend will obviously be a bit emotional for me – after all, these are my last races in the Superbike World Championship with the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. However, I am looking forward to Qatar and am grateful.”