San Juan. The first race of the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) Argentina round ended with a top six result for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. Michael van der Mark (NED) completed race one at the ‘Circuito San Juan Villicum’ (ARG) in sixth place with his BMW M 1000 RR. Eugene Laverty (IRL), standing in again for Tom Sykes (GBR), was also on track for the top eight before falling back to 13th position during the closing stage of the race. San Juan is hosting the penultimate round of the 2021 WorldSBK season.
In Superpole on Saturday morning, van der Mark qualified seventh with Laverty in twelfth. At the start, van der Mark shortly fell back but soon was back to seventh while Laverty moved up three positions to exit the first turns in ninth. Laverty then moved up to eighth on lap five, right behind van der Mark. The two BMW riders remained in those positions until Laverty fell back to tenth around the halfway point of the race. Van der Mark closed the gap to the top six and claimed sixth spot on lap eleven, and that was the position he was in when taking the chequered flag after 21 laps. Meanwhile, Laverty fought with blunt weapons and crossed the line in 13th position.
Quotes after race one at San Juan.
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “Today has been a much better day than FP1 and FP2 yesterday. Both Michael and Eugene have made big steps forward as we expected from yesterday’s performance. In Superpole, Michael only narrowly missed out the second row and Eugene did great job to get on the fourth row in twelfth position from where he had started the weekend so going into race one, both guys were in a much happier situation. I think the bikes are very alike in set-up which is something that we strive towards. Going into the race, both guys felt very comfortable. Mostly the entire grid selected the same rear tyre, the SCX which proved to be the only tyre suiting for these conditions. Mickey had a solid race. From seventh position he battled to sixth. From there he could not improve position despite the fact that his fastest lap of the race came at the very end. This showed that we have a good basis to work on overnight. In the last five or six laps, Mickey was first or second quickest on track but it just was not possible for him to further improve from sixth position. It was a great effort from him today and clearly fourth to sixth is the target for tomorrow. Eugene just fell back a little bit towards the end of the race. Before, he was in a good position in a good group of riders but as the fuel load went down, the balance of his bike changed and he was not that comfortable anymore. We will work on that for tomorrow. Overall, it was a not too-bad day. Obviously, we are striving for more but generally we can say that race one was successful for both riders and we are looking forward to the Superpole race and race two tomorrow.”
Michael van der Mark, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “We have made a big step forward this morning in FP3 compared to yesterday. I was happier with the bike. We made a small change during the session and it was alright. Superpole was quite good; starting seventh on the grid was okay. I did not have a great start, but got into a rhythm and passed some guys. It was a long and a bit of a boring race. I had some small battles but had some limitations trying to pass people but in the end I think sixth isn’t that bad. Now we have to find some small improvements on the bike and we will be fine tomorrow.”
Eugene Laverty, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “Superpole went quite well for me. I managed to qualify twelfth and was happy with the lap time that I did with the qualifying tyre. Also the beginning of the race went well. I made a good start and overtook some guys. After a few laps I was up in eighth position. With a full tank of fuel, the bike was feeling very good but unfortunately once the fuel load went down the bike became very difficult for me and I was struggling towards the end so we need to re-balance the bike to make it better for whenever the fuel tank goes empty. That’s the plan for tomorrow and I am confident that it won’t be such a big job and that we will be a little bit stronger towards the end of the races tomorrow.”