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RennMotorrad is the blog to keep up to date with news and commentary about BMW's racing efforts in World Superbike and MotoAmerica, as well as following events in MotoGP. Local racers running BMWs will also get some love - let us know who you are! Opinions stated in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect policies, positions or practices of BMW Motorcycle Owners of America, BMW Motorrad, BMW NA, BMW AG, or any other organization or corporation.

 

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F1 delivers on Sunday after disappointing fans on Saturday

Posted By Chase Hinderstein, Monday, March 21, 2016

If you simply saw that the podium was 1. Rosberg (Merc) 2. Hamilton (Merc) 3. Vettel (Ferrari) then you would conclude it was just another race with predetermined outcomes. Perhaps a curiosity that Hamilton was behind Rosberg.

However, how we got there was not so simple. After a disappointing application of new qualifying rules left us with less excitement and anticipation on Saturday, Sunday's race started off with a brilliant start that shuffled the deck before turn one.

In addition to the (soon to be scrapped) new qualifying rules, F1 has also implemented new single clutch launch requirements to start the race. I believe this is a direct attempt to reel in Lewis Hamilton a bit, as his one known weakness is starting, and that's what the result bore out. Vettel launched to a very quick start off the line, passing both Mercs, and by turn one Rosberg went a bit wide, further holding up teammate Hamilton, which allowed Raikkonen to come through to second in his own Ferrari.

Hamilton was swamped by the competition and got caught towards the back of the top ten, requiring him to fight his way forward, allowing Rosberg chasing the two Ferraris, led by Vettel who developed a huge margin over any other car.

Then deus ex machina took hold.

First, this spectacular crash, as Alonzo ran his McLaren into the back wheel of Gutierrez's Haas car, sending the McLaren flying into a horrific pile and leading to a red flag, which temporarily halted the race.

This allowed Hamilton to take advantage of a tire swap without the cost of a normal pit. This was followed later under green flag with Vettel making a full stop that cost an additional three seconds due to a very atypical error by the crew.

Vettel was able to push in the end to challenge Hamilton for that 2nd spot, but his tires had clearly lost this full grip at that point, he fought to keep the car on the track, and he settled for third.

What we seemed to learn this weekend was that Mercedes is still very dominant, Ferraris may be a close second and could challenge this season, and the new American endeavor Haas F1 is not your typical rookie team. Gutierrez was doing well before the accident, and the Frenchman, Romain Grosjean, brought the #1 Haas car in for 6th place and 8 points. Points in F1 equal dollars for the next season, and to score in their first race out was a huge victory for Haas.

Rd 2 of the F1 season is April 3rd from Bahrain.

Tags:  F1  Haas 

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Americans missing from Formula One

Posted By Chase Hinderstein, Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Formula One is thought to be the second most popular sport in the world, but in the United States it’s rarely even an afterthought. I don’t know if you can put the cart before the horse or if you can have a chicken before an egg, but the races this year also have very little American presence on the track.

There has been some progress, and 2016 will introduce the new Haas racing F1 team I expect Haas will be a legitimate force, if not actual contenders for the podium. Backed by deep corporate pockets, seeking to expand their own brand globally, and with solid racing knowhow from their domestic efforts as well as a Ferrari engine, Haas should have a steep learning curve. However, they elected to go with known quantities in the driver’s seats and not an American behind the wheel.

In a sport where the highest team budgets can go beyond $500 million annually, staying solvent is always part of the equation in F1. Some teams have failed recently, and left their staffs unpaid and gear sent to auction. In this age, it’s sometimes not the best choice for winning that is selected, but that which will keep you afloat. It can be more practical for a team to develop a car than can secure points but not truly compete for the front, giving them a decent piece of the financial purse. A realistic effort and budget can gather lucrative points in the middle of the pack, making a team profitable, rather than overspending with the hopes of an occasional podium, where the results wouldn’t cover the financial costs. It can also be better to select a driver who brings along cash, rather than one who may be faster but needs to get paid.

Recently this played out on the newly badged Renault team, when they decided to release tenured driver, the Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado from his contract. Maldonado had been a bit wild in recent seasons, with some spectacular wrecks and many dnfs (hasmaldonadocrashedtoday.com) but he had always brought along millions from the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA. Likely due to the massive drop in oil prices, PDVSA had been recently slow in delivering their pledged payments and Renault cut Maldonado loose.

These types of motivators have had an impact on the lack of American presence on the grid. Manor is the lowest budgeted F1 team and emerged with new principal ownership from bankruptcy just a year ago. Last season they granted American and paddock favorite Alexander Rossi 5 starts behind the wheel. Rossi did well and outperformed his senior teammate on the track. However, once again finances prioritized decisions and when it had been hoped that the Californian would have a regular seat for the Manor team this year; they opted instead to bring in the first ever Indonesian driver in F1, Rio Haryanto. Indonesia is a large and important growing market for motorsports, and it’s understood that with Haryanto, Manor was securing $20 million in additional funding from the state owned natural gas company, and additional Indonesian sponsors are expected. Alexander has been hired in the Indy racing series for 2016 by the Andretti racing team.

Rio Haryanto
Rio Haryanto of Manor Racing

So, while I remain passionate about the drama and action of Formula 1, it’s hard to make the case for Americans to come along at this point. We have one race currently scheduled in the USA, in Austin, along with additional races held in Montreal and Mexico City. While Montreal is considered a fan and driver favorite, the race in Austin is struggling for its life. Attendance started strong a few years ago but has trailed off, and state funding has been withdrawn, threatening the future of the event.

Tags:  F1  motorsport  Racing 

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Welcome to RennMotorrad!

Posted By Chase Hinderstein, Monday, February 29, 2016

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.

Chaz Daytona 2008.jpg
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.

I will be also tweeting and sharing related materials on Twitter. Please follow along @BMWRennmotorrad.

Tags:  F1  MotoGP  Racing  S1000RR  World Superbike  WSBK 

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