Assen. The two riders from the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team showed fighting spirit to deliver convincing performances once again in Sunday’s race in the FIM Superbike World Championship at Assen (NED). In the Superpole race, Tom Sykes (GBR) put on a thrilling chase to move up from 18th to seventh place. In the afternoon, Michael van der Mark (NED) overcame difficulties during race two to improve by five places and secure another top result by finishing sixth. After his crash on Saturday, the race doctors did not grant clearance for Jonas Folger (GER) from the BMW satellite team Bonovo MGM Racing to compete on Sunday.
After some heavy rainfall, there was still water on and around the circuit in the morning, causing the warm-up session to be postponed by 50 minutes. The start of the morning’s Superpole race was then also pushed back by ten minutes. The track was then dry, but conditions still proved to be treacherous in places. Sykes once again gave a fantastic chase. Starting from 18th on the grid, he moved up ten positions with his BMW M 1000 RR on the first lap and secured seventh place on lap four. That was where he finished the sprint race, claiming seventh spot on the grid for the afternoon’s second race. Van der Mark also made a good start from ninth only to take a fall a short time later. This put him eleventh on the grid for race two.
At the start of the second race, two riders collided at the front in turn one – while van der Mark was able to leap forward six places to move into fifth. Sykes claimed seventh position on lap one, but then fell back a little. Van der Mark also lost some time. During the second half of the race, van der Mark and Sykes were then involved in a duel lying in eighth and ninth places, all while closing in on the top six. Events took a dramatic turn coming into the final lap; van der Mark was able to overtake two rivals and secure sixth place, while Sykes took a tumble. He was able to rejoin the race and finished 15th to score a point.
Markus Schramm, Head of BMW Motorrad, was at Assen to experience the race weekend on site. “It was super to be back again,” said Schramm on Sunday afternoon. “I hadn’t been here for over a year and I really missed it. It was also the first time that I had seen the new BMW M 1000 RR in action in the WorldSBK. It was great to see the BMW family again and to view the progress that we have made with the M RR. That is what made it a good weekend.”
BMW Motorrad Motorsport can now look forward to a first in two weeks’ time; Most, in the Czech Republic, will host the WorldSBK for the first time when the sixth event of the season takes place there from 6th to 8th August.
Quotes after race two at Assen.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “Our achievements did not match our expectations today. Things did not go smoothly. Michael made a very good start to the Superpole race in the morning, but he crashed after letting his motivation get the better of him. The after-effects of that certainly hampered his efforts in the second race. He had a great race nonetheless, finishing sixth from eleventh on the grid. Tom had a really strong Superpole race this morning, moving up from the back of the field to seventh with some outstanding pace. That pace could have taken him to within grasp of a podium from seventh on the grid this afternoon. He fell back a little in the early stages of the race and then battled his way back together with Michael. He then slipped out over the front wheel just before the end, but was able to cross the finishing line in 15th to score a point. Overall, we definitely could have done better this weekend. I think that we have shown potential but we were not able to convert it into results as we had hoped.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “After Saturday’s race one where we were reasonably happy with the results overall and showed strong lap times, we were looking to carry those over into today. But it was a tough Superpole Race. For sure, Michael felt he needed to be with that front group of riders which yesterday’s pace indicated he could do that. But he unfortunately crashed out which was a disappointment and set him back to 11th on the grid for race two. Tom managed to push his way through and improved on his starting position, which was perfect. Going into the race, there was a bit of a coming together at T1 which unsettled the pack, but Michael settled back into a rhythm. However, he couldn’t find the grip he was looking for. Tom was waiting for his tyre to come to him but again got stuck in a battle where he was just off the leading two packs. Overall, it was a tough race. We expected a little more from the performances but all in all we are showing the improvement of the bike and that gap to the front is getting narrower at every event. This is the target with the podium in sight. We take the positives from this weekend and move to Most where we will pick up the game from there.”
Michael van der Mark, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “This morning’s crash was a stupid mistake by myself. I really wanted to go for it, and on the fastest corners of the track I tried to go even faster which was a silly mistake on my behalf. In race two, I had an okay start. I had a bit of luck at T1 starting in P11 and by the end of lap one I was in fifth but I didn’t have the pace or the grip I was hoping for. I was struggling to keep the bike on track and I just didn’t have any more to give so it was quite tough. But at the end of the race I found a little extra pace and managed to catch and pass Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Alex Lowes so P6 wasn’t too bad in the end. But I really wanted more.”
Tom Sykes, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “We managed to start race two on the third row which was a lot better. We got a much cleaner start to the race as the guys did a bit of work to the BMW M 1000 RR. We used the harder rear tyre and just couldn’t find the grip we needed at the beginning of the race but having said that, the bike stayed very constant throughout the race. Unfortunately coming into the last corner before entering the final lap, I tried to close the line and square the corner off and lost the front. It was such a slow speed crash, but I wasn’t able to save it. It’s such a shame, the bike today was good enough for that top-six and it would have been nice to be consistent the whole weekend. It certainly seemed we have made some good improvements including both me and Michael. A disappointing end to the weekend but we can take the positives from it, and we will focus on that and try to build on it for the next round.”
Jonas Folger, Bonovo MGM Racing: “It was a really great weekend – until the crash. I am delighted that we were able to show once again that we have the speed and that we can really compete. That did us all a lot of good. I actually wanted to race today. I am still in some pain and a bit stiff walking, but I felt ready. Unfortunately, the race doctors did not give me the OK. I would like to thank the team for their great work nonetheless and for getting us back on track. Thanks also to everyone who has sent their best wishes after my crash. Now it’s time for a few days of recovery and then we will go back on the attack at Most the weekend after next.”