Imola. Saturday’s race in the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) at Imola (ITA) ended with a top ten finish for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. Markus Reiterberger (GER) crossed the line in tenth place on his BMW S 1000 RR. Team-mate Tom Sykes (GBR) was in third when he was forced to retire due to a technical defect on the tenth of 19 laps. Imola is hosting the fifth round of the 2019 WorldSBK season.
In the morning’s Superpole qualifying session, both BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team riders secured a good starting position for the first race. Sykes rode his RR to sixth position on the grid, with Reiterberger right behind in seventh.
Sykes made a very good start and was in a promising third place at the halfway point of the race, well ahead of his closest challengers. However, the British rider was then forced to head for the pits. Reiterberger fell back to 13th place at the start and remained there for a while, before moving up again in the final phase to return to the top ten.
Quotes after race one at Imola.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “The day started off really well with Superpole qualifiying. Markus claimed seventh place and really showed that he had made a big leap forward from yesterday’s practice session. Tom made a great start to the race and being on his own in third place allowed him to exploit the RR’s potential. Unfortunately, an issue cropped up with the power management and Tom was unable to convert this performance into the result it deserved. We will now take a close look at what caused the problem. Markus lost a few places during the turmoil at the start and got stuck further back in the field. That made the race difficult for him, but he battled his way back and scored some important points by finishing tenth. Overall, we have seen that we have a good set up at Imola and we want to build on that tomorrow in the Superpole race and in the second race. According to the forecasts, the weather, however, could provide us with a new challenge.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “For Tom, it’s really sad. Five rounds into our first year in WorldSBK with this project and the new RR – and we were not only fighting for the podium, we were on the podium. Then a cruel small issue put an end to his race so I feel very, very sorry for Tom and everyone on his side of the garage because they work really hard. They’ve made a clever tyre choice that worked very well and he had a very good start and everything was there in front of him. We now must build on that and come back stronger. Markus unfortunately had a difficult race but again, we collected good data and hopefully starting from the same grid positions in tomorrow’s Superpole race we can see what we can do.”
Markus Reiterberger: “I am really happy that we managed to improve on yesterday’s performance. We did a good job in Superpole to secure a starting position of seventh. It was a shame that I then lost a few places at the start and during the first few corners. I was stuck behind (Michael Ruben) Rinaldi for quite a while. I was faster, but I just couldn’t get past. However, I was able to overtake a few other riders towards the end and crossed the line in 10th place. That wasn’t quite the result we had hoped for but I am confident that I will continue to improve. We’ve still got a few issues to deal with at the moment but we will continue to work hard and I am very grateful to my team for that. Tomorrow is a new day that brings new opportunities and I hope that we can take another big step forward in the warm-up. Of course, we will have to keep an eye on the weather but I think that we can do a good job. We certainly have the potential to do that.”
Tom Sykes: “To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement. We’ve worked so hard all weekend and we really improved some areas on the BMW S 1000 RR. We dug deep at the start and had a good position but then unfortunately had an issue with the bike. We had the pace today, we had a bit of luck with Chaz (Davies) not being in the race and we had a top-three position in our sight. We had a nice gap to the riders behind and I was just settling into a rhythm; the times were very consistent. It just seems we have a lot of bad luck at the moment so hopefully we’ll have a better day tomorrow.”