Jerez de la Frontera. The five-month break is over; the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) resumed this weekend with round two of the season at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. In Saturday’s Superpole, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team secured a place on the front row of the grid. However, a technical issue in race one meant the good start position went unrewarded.
High temperatures are making the second race weekend in this season’s WorldSBK a real test for man and machine. On Saturday, temperatures reached 37 degrees Celsius in Jerez de la Frontera, with track temperatures approaching 60 degrees Celsius.
In Saturday afternoon’s Superpole qualifying, Tom Sykes (GBR) landed his BMW S 1000 RR on the front row of the grid, in third place. The Brit narrowly missed out on pole position by just 0.04 seconds. His team-mate Eugene Laverty (IRL) was eleventh. However, Sykes’ challenge for a possible podium finish came to a premature end after three laps. Running fifth at the time, a technical issue initially forced him into the run-off zone and Sykes subsequently had to return to the pits. He was able to rejoin the race at the back of the field, but was not ultimately classified. Laverty gained several positions at the start, but then also ran into difficulties and dropped back through the field. He eventually crossed the finish line in 15th place after 20 laps of racing.
Quotes after race one at Jerez de la Frontera.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “After a satisfying morning, during free practice three and qualifying, in which Tom was only four hundredths of a second behind the pole position, we unfortunately had to conclude the day with a disappointing race. After the last WorldSBK test at Barcelona, we arrived feeling very positive. Despite the Barcelona heat, we had good pace in our race distance simulations so we felt well prepared for the conditions here at Jerez so the top six was our target. Unfortunately, things turned out differently in the race. Tom had a problem with a gear sensor and Eugene had a problem with the front tyre. Currently we still have to find out the exact cause there. As a result, it was impossible for Eugene to ride at a highly inclined position. Now we are tackling these technical problems in order to be able to show tomorrow where we are.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “Tom had a very strong Superpole this morning, putting his BMW S 1000 RR on the front row. Eugene struggled to get used to the qualifying tyre. As the race started, Tom got into a good rhythm and settled into the group well. Unfortunately on lap four we had a technical problem and had to return the bike to the pits. We managed to get Tom back out on track after fixing the issue which was crucial for us heading into tomorrow. Sadly we lost too much time doing this and only managed to get 16 laps in, which was deemed an unclassified position. We can only apologize to Tom for letting him down in this race, but we will come back stronger tomorrow. As for Eugene he really struggled throughout the race. He got a good start and gained a few positions off the line jumping up into P8 but then unfortunately he struggled with his front tyre from then on. It knocked the pace off his lap time and overall, his final position. This is nowhere near where Eugene wants to be and nor the team, but we will look at the data and hopefully do a better job in the remaining races.”
Tom Sykes: “From the first free practice on, we tried to put together the perfect package for the race in these hot temperatures. The entire BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team did a good job on this so by the start of the race I felt really good and with our set-up we probably would had come a little bit stronger as the race progressed. But unfortunately we had a technical issue. The main thing was that the guys fixed it quickly, so I went back out. It was clear to see that in general, the set-up of the BMW S 1000 RR was well prepared, as immediately after being out again, I was back on my lap times and the bike itself was feeling good. For sure, I am a bit disappointed but we just have to try again tomorrow. Honestly speaking, if that issue had not happened we would have had chances for the podium so I am taking this momentum into tomorrow’s races.”
Eugene Laverty: “We had a tough race today. I made it difficult for myself in qualifying starting in P11 but I managed to make a good start to the race and gained three positions. On lap two, I realised I was in trouble as I tried to brake into T1 and the bike just ran straight on, then again on T5, which was down to the front tyre not working. From then on it was a matter of learning the limits of the bike, which unfortunately was almost two seconds a lap slower than I expected. We need to investigate this issue as all weekend we have had not any problems with the front tyre until now in the race.”