Portimão. Saturday at Portimão (POR) was a day of mixed feelings for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team. After a strong performance in Superpole with second place for Tom Sykes (GBR) and ninth for Markus Reiterberger (GER), the afternoon’s race did not go to plan. Reiterberger crossed the finish line in twelfth place, with Sykes just behind in 13th position. Portimão is hosting the tenth round of the FIM Superbike World Championship 2019 (WorldSBK).
Sykes was able to make good use of the faster qualifying tyres during the final minutes of Superpole, setting what was then the best time – with a new lap record of 01:40.483 minutes. It was only Kawasaki rider Jonathan Rea (GBR) who managed to go one better and claim pole position. Sykes claimed the second spot on the front row. Reiterberger also reached the top ten in Superpole, finishing ninth.
Sykes initially dropped back after the start of the race but stayed in the leading group that was battling for podium positions, however the British rider fell on lap eight out of 20. He was able to remount and continued the race on his RR in 15th place. He proceeded to move up two places to 13th during the remaining laps. Reiterberger also lost a few places after the start. He then gave a solid race performance, crossing the line in twelfth position.
Quotes after race one at Portimão.
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “Both riders did very well in Superpole. Tom obviously made a great lap with his qualifier and second position was fantastic. Markus held on to the third row of the grid in ninth which again was a solid performance from him. The race was difficult. Tom got away well, he was in a real strong group and he was faster on some parts of the circuit while he was slower in other parts. The places where he was struggling on speed was where the passing places were at the end of the start-finish straight. He suffered badly for that and he was overriding and because of that he lost the front. But he took the good decision to get back on the bike and finish the race to collect some data. He scored more points but most important we got good data for tomorrow. Markus’ start was not so bad but then he got sucked in and dropped two places into the first corner. From that position it was a lonely race for him and as the race tyre disintegrates as the laps go on he got slower and this unfortunately was the position he finished. But we will analyse today’s data, work hard, prepare for tomorrow and hopefully secure places in the two front rows in the Superpole Race.”
Markus Reiterberger: “Superpole was really great. With the SC-X tyres I managed to reach the top five for a time before ending up in seventh before everyone had put on their qualifying tyres. I was then able to record a fast second lap after the first one with the qualifying tyres. That was a perfect lap. I had expected to be on the second row but it was ninth place in the end. I was just two and a half tenths of a second off fourth place. The start went well enough but I hit the first two gears too early and that meant that the other riders were able to out-accelerate me. Then I rode my race and struggled a bit with the problems that are still holding us back somewhat. I finished twelfth, which was just shy of my aim of a top ten position, but we will see if we can find something to help me do a bit better tomorrow.”
Tom Sykes: “Overall, it’s a shame because we have found a good set-up for our BMW S 1000 RR and we’ve been really consistent throughout practice and also in Superpole. We had a very strong result and just missed pole position by only one tenth. So this was good but unfortunately during the race our set-up was really good to ride when I’m on my own but when I was with the other guys the style of riding had to change a bit. And while we have a good set-up we still miss a little bit of straight-line performance. On our own we are not too bad but unfortunately I got caught out riding with the guys and just this slight change in style caused me losing the front when I released the brake. I was a little bit disappointed but it was a big lesson learned. Now we will work on that and change the set-up for tomorrow to attack again.”