Portimão. BMW Motorrad Motorsport concluded the European season in the FIM Superbike World Championship with top eight finishes. Scott Redding (GBR) from the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team produced the best race result in Portimão (POR). He finished seventh in the second main race on Sunday. Once again, the most consistent BMW rider was Loris Baz (FRA) from the Bonovo action BMW Racing Team, who reached the top 10 in all three races. Michael van der Mark (NED) chased his way up from 20th on the grid to finish eighth in the Superpole Race. Eugene Laverty (IRL) scored one point on Saturday. Portimão was the ninth and final European event of the year. The tenth round of the WorldSBK season will take place in two weeks (21st to 23rd October) in San Juan, Argentina. The final events will then follow in Indonesia and Australia.
After Superpole qualifying, Baz started the first race on Saturday from seventh place, with Redding alongside him in eighth. Laverty was 17th on the grid, with van der Mark 20th. Redding was the best-placed BMW rider in seventh place, only to make a minor error on the final lap. He took a tumble before rejoining the race and crossed the line in 18th. Baz was also on course for the top 10 during the entire race, finishing ninth. Van der Mark in 14th and Laverty in 15th completed the points positions.
Van der Mark moved up from 20th to eighth place during the ten-lap Superpole Race on Sunday morning. Baz again finished ninth, while Redding dropped back some places during the closing laps to finish 13th. Laverty crossed the line in 15th position. Redding bounced back to finish seventh in the subsequent second main race. Baz repeated his top ten performance, finishing 10th. Van der Mark was twelfth and Laverty 16th, just missing out on the points.
Portimão was the final home race for Laverty, who lives near to the circuit. Next season, the 36-year-old will move into management with the Bonovo action BMW Racing team. An event on Saturday evening saw many companions take a look back at his long career in international racing, and the team presented him with a special gift – the BMW M 1000 RR that had been prepared for his guest appearance in the IDM.
The race weekend was overshadowed by the serious injuries sustained by Dutch rider Victor Steeman in an accident in the Supersport 300 class.
Quotes after the Portimão races.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “It was a difficult weekend, and we are not where we should be in terms of results. Loris and the Bonovo action BMW Racing Team reached their top 10 objective in all three races, which was good. It was a shame that Scott fell yesterday. It was a minor rider error and that annoyed him most of all. But he was just trying to defend his position. Scott had problems with his X tyres in the qualifying race and could not keep up with the pace. Finishing seventh in the second main race was OK, but the gap to the leaders was just too large, it’s nearly one second per lap. I was very happy that Michael was able to move up from 20th to eighth in the Superpole Race. That’s a sign that he is on the way back, and that was good to see. Eugene didn’t quite get the results we were hoping for in his final races in Europe, but he and the team will give their all as the season draws to a close. Overall, we were definitely not in the position we were before Barcelona. We must continue to work hard to make progress. Congratulations to our BMW M brand team-mates in the DTM, who won the team and drivers’ titles. They managed it, and that’s what we need to do as well.
“Unfortunately, the race weekend started with some sad news for us. It was dreadful to hear that BMW BSB rider Chrissy Rouse succumbed to his injuries after that serious accident in Donington Park. We would like to express our sincere condolences to his family, his friends and his team. Our thoughts are also with Supersport 300 rider Victor Steeman. We hope to hear positive news soon.”
Loris Baz, Bonovo action BMW Racing Team (SP: 7 / R01: 9 / SP Race: 9/ R02: 10): “We had some great fights in all three races. I think our set-up in the Superpole Race this morning was not perfect, I felt like I had to squeeze the brakes very hard all the time. But I was close to Scott, which is good, until the last lap, where I had a big moment. Overall, it was quite a good weekend considering the issues we had in the beginning. I just hope we’ll soon have a full weekend without any problems, where we can work all the way through the weekend, find a good setup and improve the bike. We can’t blame anyone; we just have been unlucky. I think overseas will now be very different, you never know what to expect. But we made it into the top ten, which is the target. Anyway, I hope we can be in the top five soon.”
Scott Redding, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team (SP: 8 / R01: 18 / SP Race: 13 / R02: 7): “To be honest, the weekend was not great. We struggled again. Maybe not as much as in Barcelona, but we were still not where we want to be. Our weak point still costs us too much time. There is not much I can do. The guys worked well to give me a better feeling in some areas and helped me with the tyre life, so I was able to be more consistent to the end. But I need performance on the exit of the corner and at the moment there is no solution yet. We still have a lot of work to do, and everyone is working really hard. But sometimes you need to go really deep to come to a solution that makes the difference. We will get there. It just takes time.”
Michael van der Mark, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team (SP: 20 / R01: 14 / SP Race: 8 / R02: 12): “We made a massive change compared to yesterday with the bike. The warm-up felt okay. In the Superpole Race, I had an amazing start, gained a lot of places, and immediately felt that I had a really good pace. We decided to go with the SC0 tyre to keep the distance and also because I just need more time with the bike. At the end, it was the right choice for us. We were really fast in the Superpole Race. It makes life a little bit easier to start from P8 in race two. I had a good start, just got tangled up in a few moments of the first lap. To be honest, I didn’t have the best grip from the start. I dropped a few positions because I couldn’t stay with the guys in front of me. In the end I had a solid pace, I was not incredible fast but also not slow. I calmed down a bit and got more miles under the belt. It was good to finish the race and to score another few points.”
Eugene Laverty, Bonovo action BMW Racing Team (SP: 17 / R01: 15 / SP Race: 15 / R02: 16): “Right now, all we can do is keep working to improve on where we’ve been lately. This weekend, the team did a fantastic job. Instead of trying to do big leaps we’ve worked on our weaknesses to improve the bike. Honestly, in the final race, the bike was the best it has been in a long time. It was doing many things correctly, now we must study the power delivery, as after four laps it seems to be killing the rear tyre and after that we go backwards. We need to dig deep into it and improve this. Because when the tyre is gone after four laps, the 20 laps are really long.
“Last night was such a huge surprise. I was so focused on this weekend, like I’ve approached every weekend for the last 16 years. I got into my routine, and it didn’t matter in my mind that it was the last European round, but suddenly I began to bump into these familiar faces and people had surprised me. My wife Pippa organised a lot of events. In this celebration, it was very nice to see so many of my former teams, my former teammates and of course my current Bonovo action BMW Racing Team. It was also amazing to have Dr. Markus Schramm here as well. To top it all off, there was a bike underneath the cover, and I could see there was a number 50 there and I thought it was a presentation, but when they told me it was my present, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like a kid at Christmas! So, a big thank you to Jürgen Röder and everybody for this event and this incredible gift.”