The winter is officially over. Unless you’re someone who demarcated the start of spring last weekend by watching the Skittles swirling around the oval in Daytona, this weekend ushered in the start of the race season with two great races in World Superbike competition from Philip Island, Australia.
Welcome to RennMotorrad (@BMWRennmotorrad), a blog where I’ll discuss BMW Motorrad racing, primarily in World Superbike, while also using license to discuss events in MotoGP, F1, and other areas of the racing world.
While still not getting full support on any factory team, the BMW S1000RR is positioned for better results in 2016, with 2 notable albeit non-factory teams switching from other brands to the BMW platform and bringing along larger budgets and more prominent riders.
The Milwaukee Tools sponsored team will receive some factory support from BMW and carries aboard legitimate firepower in Josh Brookes, who previously won the championship in British Superbikes, as well as Karel Abraham. Abraham is a rider from the Czech Republic who has raced the past 5 years in MotoGP. His family owns the circuit in Brno, but unfortunately that’s not on the calendar for 2016.
Althea is not only a Grateful Dead song but our other team representing BMW in the Championship. They too will receive some factory support to their base in Rome. While their riders may be lesser known, it’s notable that they have Jordi Torres, aka the Spanish Elvis, on board. Jordi showed great progress last season on the now defunct Aprilia factory team and I think he’ll be the one of the four BMWs to challenge for some podiums this year.
A quick mention of a change in WSBK this season. WSBK has always run two races per event. However this season they’ve moved race 1 to Saturday afternoon, after riders finish qualifying in the morning. Happily, both races are shown live in the USA on beIN sports. The station is focused on international sports. While it may not have as many subscribers, their style of coverage is far superior to Fox Sports, who frequently stumbles in their coverage of MotoGP. While Fox may interrupt a MotoGP live race in favor of a NASCAR post-race press conference, beIN shows the full race with limited interruptions. Hopefully MotoGP will move over to beIN or join F1 at NBC Sports after this contract.
The season began this past weekend at Phillip Island, a popular tourist destination for Australians, which is about 2 hours south of Melbourne.
By David Pettit - Wikipedia:Contact us/Photo submission, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5127072
In race 1, the front of the pack featured some good battles for 1st, especially with challenges by Chaz Davies who now sits atop a Ducati but we remember from his rides atop the BMW factory ride, but ultimately it was the Northern Irishman Jonathan Rea who took the checkered. It was Rea and this Kawasaki that won the Championship last season.
Worth watching this year is Nicky Hayden (!) who comes to WSBK after a long successful career in MotoGP racing. Nicky is back aboard a familiar and competitive Honda, which he managed to a 9th place finish race 1. The American fought near the front for much of the race, but rear tire degradation late in the match saw him drop a few spots.
Also worth watching this year is British rider and fellow bulldog owner, Leon Camier. Camier is alone representing a much improved MV Augusta team, and I have possibly unrealistic hopes that this brand can return to form. It had been a premier racing badge in much of the 20th century.
Torres was the best performing BMW in race 1, finishing 8th. He was followed by Brookes in 10th, Abraham 13th, and Torres’ teammate Reiterberger out of the points in 20th. To the uninitiated this may seem uninspired, but for three of the four to finish in the points is actually a fine achievement. It speaks to the stock performance of the bike and the grit of the riders. They’re aboard a bike which is not very different from the S1000RRs we’re seeing at dealerships. To compete successfully with the big budget factory modified teams is no easy task.
Race 2 on Sunday was not dissimilar. Ultimately Rea held off a strong challenge from Hayden’s teammate on the Honda, Michael van der Mark and took the flag for the double. Nicky came close to his first podium but was ultimately passed on the final lap by the Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli aboard his Yamaha R1.
Torres finished 7th, essentially leading the second pack of riders. He was closely followed by his own teammate, Markus Reiterberger in 8th. Brookes took 9th, while Abraham bookended Chaz Davies by taking 11th. Davies had been in close contention with Rea, swapping 1st place at times, but late in the race he lost the back end and slid off the track. He managed to pick up his Ducati and scramble to stay in the top 10.
Next race weekend is March 13th, when the WSBK Championship moves on to Thailand. The following weekend is a highlight of my year, when both MotoGP and Formula 1 kick off their seasons, in Qatar under the lights and Melbourne Australia respectively.
A fantastic resource to easily discover when these and other race circuits are locally broadcast, can be found at tvracer.com.
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