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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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More dramatic crashes and disappointment for BMW at Misano (WSBK Round 7)

Posted By Wes Fleming, Friday, June 23, 2017

Normally I try to give you, gentle readers, a bit of a play-by-play on the races. Not so much this time. I'm late, obviously, with my report, but it was a crazy race.

Race 1 at Misano last weekend was moderately interesting. For the most part, the most interesting part about it was that neither Jonathan Rea nor Chaz Davies were in the lead! Michael van der Mark led nearly every lap for the majority of the race and looked to be on his way to victory - until he crashed out of the race in Turn 13 with just seven laps to go.

In racing, you can go from hero to zero just like that. Van der Mark has finished fourth or fifth in seven races so far this season. He seemed poised to break his streak as a bridesmaid, but the crash took care of that for him.

Van der Mark's crash set the stage for what we've become used to as our podium finishers - Rea, Davies and either Tom Sykes or another of the top four or five riders. Althea BMW rider Jordi Torres made a strong showing in Race 1, but couldn't quite break through to the lead pack, unfortunately.

The race winner, however, ended up being Sykes, with Alex Lowes in second and Rea in third. That Rea finished in third is a bit of a miracle in and of itself, as near the end of the last lap of the race, Davies - in the lead by a narrow margin - lost his front end and crashed. It might not have been so dramatic except that Rea ran right over Davies, rolling over his head and neck and dropping his bike in the process.

As Rea slid to a stop and got to his feet, he looked back quickly at his chief rival. Davies raised his hand in a brief wave, as if to say "Sorry about that" or even "Carry on, mate!" Whatever the message, Rea ran to his motorcycle, righted it and managed to finish on the podium.

Torres, boosted by van der Mark's crash, suddenly found himself in fourth position with the championship's points leader engaged in a footrace to get back on his bike. The lead group had such a large gap, however, that Rea was still able to take third place. Torres' teammate, Raffaele de Rosa, benefitted from the high-profile crashes and finished in 10th position, his best finish this season since he moved up to WSBK to take over the slot given up by Markus Reiterberger, who suffered an injury last season that continues to affect his performance this year.

This fan-shot video from the stands offers one of the best views of the Davies-Rea crash. You see Rea get back on his bike and start riding again just as Torres comes into view on the right side of the frame.

Davies was injured, but not critically, in the crash and sat out Race 2. From a cold, analytical standpoint, the weekend at Misano has more or less ended Davies' chance at the outright championship. By missing out on a possible 50 points (had he won both races) and instead drawing zero points for the entire weekend, he's been relegated to third place in the standings and could easily be caught by Marco Melandri (down just 22 points from Davies) or even Lowes (down 44 points from Davies).

Due to his fourth place finish in Race 1, Torres found himself on the pole position for Race 2. Because he's had a number of strong finishes, he's run Race 2 from the second row a number of times, but this was his first time on pole for the season.

I couldn't help but think that the world would finally get to see what the S 1000 RR could truly do when it wasn't hampered by a mid-pack start and having Torres forced to climb rung by rung into the pack trailing the leaders.

Torres took the BMW flag and flew it high in Race 2, staying in the lead pack and running in first place for eight laps. While Rea, Sykes, Melandri, van der Mark and Eugene Laverty kept the pressure on Torres, it looked as if the Spaniard was destined for a podium finish, if not the outright win.

Again, you can go from hero to zero - just. like. that.

With three laps to go, a tire problem forced Torres out of the race. Done. His frustration was apparent as he guided his ailing bike to the side of the track.

Instead, Melandri won the race in fine fashion, achieving something of a landmark win in his career. Not only was Race 2 the 100th WSBK win for an Italian rider, but Melandri won the race on home turf, riding an Italian bike (Ducati) and using Italian tires (Pirelli) to boot! Is quadfecta a word? If it is, this was an Italian quadfecta.

Rea took second place, with Sykes rounding out the podium. De Rosa finished in seventh.

Torres understated his disappointment towards his tech withdrawal, saying "We were convinced we could do well today. I started strong, making the most of being on pole. Having no-one up ahead helped, I could take my lines, get into a rhythm. I ran my race, pushing to the limit, giving 100% all the way. I ran with Melandri for several laps and continued to push but then four laps from the end, I felt some vibration and the rear was sliding around, I realized it was the same issue we had at Assen in race 1. I thank my Althea guys, who came up with a significant chassis solution that we'd never tried before, that allowed me to find the right level of confidence and fully express myself. I’m so sorry I was unable to finish the race, but we have to take today’s performance and carry it to Laguna."

Rea remains atop the championship standings with 296 points, followed by Sykes (250), Davies (185), Melandri (163) and Lowes (141). Torres is in ninth place with 85 points, and de Rosa's 27 points put him in 17th. It remains bittersweet to see Nicky Hayden's name in the standings week after week; it's possible his 40 points will keep him in the top 20 for the rest of the season. Kawasaki continues to enjoy commanding leads in both the manufacturer and team standings.

Tags:  AltheaBMW  JordiTorres  Racing  S1000RR  WSBK 

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Nate Kern earns podium finish at WERA Superbike race on stock S 1000 RR

Posted By Wes Fleming, Monday, May 8, 2017
Updated: Monday, May 8, 2017

A note from Wes: I don't usually run press releases on the racing blog, but this juicy piece came down from BMW Motorrad USA today, with details from Steve Weir (a certified HP4 race bike engineer and all-around nice guy) on Nate Kern's ...can I call it stunning?... podium finish on a STOCK BMW S 1000 RR. I saw a picture of the race-prepped bike on Facebook AND THEY SAFETY-WIRED THE KICKSTAND UP. That's how stock this bike was! Photos courtesy of BMW Motorrad USA except for the last one, which is from N8's Facebook page. 

Last weekend, BMW Motorsports Advisor, test rider and Boxer Cup Champion Nate Kern defied all odds by winning third place in the WERA Superbike Class in Round One of the WERA Triple Crown at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. His ride? A completely stock BMW S 1000 RR, that had been in storage and awaiting pickup by a friend. Read on as BMW HP Race Engineer Steve Weir shares the backstory.

"I knew of two BMW racers coming to Road Atlanta, but little did I know a third would crawl from the darkness and propose the unthinkable,” says Weir. “Nate approached me after Sylvain Barrier completed qualifying practice 2 in 6th position at a track he had never been to. Kern had that look in his eye, one that only a racer knows. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'Dude… I wanna race the WERA Superbike class but I’m gonna need your help.’ I didn’t laugh or blink an eye because I knew he was serious, so I asked the obvious, ‘Uhhh okay, what are you going to ride?'

"This is the point where things got weird. He told me about his friend Alan who bought his bike but hadn’t picked it up. The kind of stories we have all heard before. He would go on to tell me the bike was in storage, wasn’t race prepped was completely stock with DOT tires, kickstand, horn and license plate to boot. I went over the typical check list in my head of race prepping a bike and the time it would take to get it done. I also balanced the fact that Friday’s WERA practice was long gone and all that was left was Saturday's qualifying round, which meant he would be jumping right into the fire, putting his head down and making something happen, on a completely stock bike. My first thought was good luck with that, but it’s Kern, fully capable of stomping the competition on an R nineT with no electronics, crazy torque and cylinder heads that scrape the ground when you turn. I told him I was in.

"Kern started blowing up phones enlisting the help of BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta Service Manager Bill Walls. Walls liked the idea of racing a stock BMW S 1000 RR so much he put a team together to undertake the tedious task of drilling and safety wiring the bike. Next up, James Bock and Oscar Solis of Pirellis Tires liked the idea so much they told Kern they would provide him tires to race on.

"We picked the bike up Friday at about 9:30 pm parked behind BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta complete with clear tape for the headlights, taillight and the big number 8 for N8 (Nate). This was my first look at the bike. I noticed a full Akrapovic Exhaust. I asked Kern about it and he said the bike had an HP Power Kit. The kit is purchased through BMW HP and comes with full exhaust and an ECU enabling code that changes the parameters of the air fuel ratio, ignition timing and traction control for better race prowess. Bonus!

"I asked if the Race Calibration Kit 3 was installed, which would allow me to balance the traction control for the track, tires and conditions to which a disappointing 'No' came from Kern. I was still comfortable with the plan as the parameters within the HP Power Kit are expanded from stock and work extremely well.

"Saturday morning came quickly and we were back at the track with a near complete race-prepped bike. All that was left was to remove the head and taillight plugs, cover them with clear plastic and put a big #8 on the front and rear of the bike. DOT tires were replaced with Pirelli slicks. Last, but not least, the kickstand was safely wired into place.

"As luck would have it I always keep a spare HP 2D Race Datalogger with me in case a customer's bike doesn’t have one, as this allows me to log rider data and bike output – 32 data channels total – covering throttle position, suspension position, lean angle, traction control interventions and a multitude of other parameters. The HP 2D Race Datalogger allows me to make changes to the bike without all the guess work.

"I started Kern off with a base set up on the bike utilizing the DDC (Dynamic Damping Control), which easily adjusts at the flip of a switch on the handlebar. I also set preload on both the front and rear springs. Kern went out for a couple of sighting laps, came in for a quick change in spring preload then went out and completed a 1:32.5. This helped grid Kern 5th for the race…something with which we could definitely work.

"With my expectations happily exceeded, I read the data from the HP 2D Datalogger and spoke with Kern about the current bike set up. With Kern's feedback and the information gathered from the datalogger, we decided on a geometry change that would help Kern flick the bike from side to side and corner with better front end feedback. We also found that Kern was getting a vibration in the front end of the bike that turned out to be a bent rotor, possibly from sitting in the overfilled storage unit. Between the bent rotor and brake pads with over 3,000 miles on them that were glazed over, we were bound to have problems in the race and safety was a huge factor. I told Kern we were in dire need of a set of rotors and pads. Kern said he had a spare set of wheels in storage but was concerned they were not the BMW HP wheels he was currently running on the bike. On our way home, we drove by the storage unit and picked up the front wheel. The wheel was not a BMW HP wheel. It was the standard BMW wheel with Galfer rotors. Kern stated he wanted to run the bike in complete stock trim but after some conversation, safety outweighed desire.

"Sunday was upon us before we knew it and we still didn’t have a set of stock brake pads. Kern spoke with SBS Brand Manager Chris Jensen about getting a set of brake pads that were the same as the stock BMW pads. Jensen provided us with a set of SBS 870DS Dual Sinter pads that he said were similar to the BMW HP pads.

"Kern was lucky to get a warm up practice and a chance to test the changes made to the bike. He went out for a couple of sighting laps to get a feel for the changes, returning to hot pit for additional preload on the front forks. Kern told me the changes allowed him to put the bike where he wanted it and was happy with the direction we took. The morning was cool and damp with high humidity and, on his first hot lap, he matched the previous day’s qualifying time with less effort and better feel. Kern came back in and said, 'I can definitely race this…The bike is really good.'

Leading up to the race, weather and track conditions changed several times. At one point it started to rain, but eventually it cleared and the track dried out for the race. Kern went out for the sighting lap and lined up on the grid in 5th position. Utilizing the launch control, he got off to a beautiful start into turn 1 where he was in 4th place. Several battles took place, but the race would settle into Kern in 4th place and Brad Burns in 5th. Burns made several attempts to pass Kern but none would stick. Tim Bemisderfer had a mechanical issue, leaving Kern and Burns to battle it out for the 3rd place podium finish.

The battle would come down to the last turn where Burns attempted to pass Kern under heavy braking but he failed to make the turn, leaving Kern with a clean run to the finish and a hard-earned 3rd place finish. "After the race, Kern's pit was filled with BMW enthusiasts and fellow racers who came to get a good look at the bike after hearing it was being raced in stock trim. It was poked, prodded and questioned with total disbelief. Now, the question still remains… Do we continue forward with this project and go for a championship?"

Photo nabbed from Nate Kern's Facebook page.

Tags:  N8  Racing  S1000RR  WERA 

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WSBK season opens at Phillips Island

Posted By Wes Fleming, Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship – commonly known as World Superbike, or WSBK – had its season opener at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Australia on 25-26 February, 2017.

Both races were nail-bitingly exciting, with #1 plate holder Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) trading the lead with Chaz Davies ( Racing/Ducati), Marco Melandri (, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha) and even rookie Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) but ultimately winning both races. Rea leads the championship after its inaugural event with 50 points, but Davies isn’t far behind with 40 points earned from his dual second-place finishes.

The Althea BMW Racing Team had a respectable, but ultimately disappointing outing. Spaniard Jordi Torres (#81) finished Race 1 in 7th place, 8.7 seconds behind Rea. Torres fell back quickly from his starting position in Row 3, but fought ahead to within striking distance of the lead pack and benefitted from Lorenzo Savadori and Marco Melandri crashing out of Race 1.

He managed to stay well ahead of Irishman Eugene Laverty in the last laps of the race, but couldn’t quite catch fellow Spaniard Xavi Forés, who brought up the rear of the lead pack. Torres had the fastest speed of the entire grid during Race 1, reaching 198.5 mph and due to new gridding rules, his seventh-place finish in Race 1 put him in the fourth slot on the grid for Race 2, at the head of Row 2.

Markus Reiterberger (#21) spent much of Race 1 clashing with American Nicky Hayden’s teammate, rookie Stefan Bradl, ultimately finishing in 12th place, over 21 seconds behind the winner but just two seconds behind Hayden, who seemed to struggle with his Red Bull Honda CBR1000RR SP2. “I was happy with the test early in the week,” Reiterberger said, praising the setup on his S 1000 RR.

Race 2 was a disappointment for Torres, who had acceleration problems with his motorcycle during the warm-up lap and was forced to drop out of the race altogether. “It was a weekend of ups and downs for us,” he said. “Overall the weekend went well and we know that we have the pace to be consistently within the front group.”

All the teams had to deal with scorching track temperatures of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which made tire management not only difficult, but critical to success. Most laps saw times above 1 minute, 32 seconds, while many qualifying times were well over a full second faster.

Reiterberger started Race 2 well, getting as high as ninth place before spending most of the race in 11th. Unfortunately, he dropped two positions in the final drag race out of Turn 12, crossing the finish line in 13th, nearly 26 seconds behind Rea.

Torres sits at nine points in the overall standings, with Reiterberger close behind at seven. BMW has 12 points in the Manufacturer’s Standings, trailing Aprilia (15) but leading Honda (6). Both men earned points in the BMW Motorrad Race Trophy, which covers 20 racing series around the world.

As happens with many WSBK race weekends, the host nation’s Superbike Championship runs the same weekend, and Phillip Island was no exception. There are two S 1000 RR riders campaigning in the Australian Superbike Championship, Troy Guenther (#56, NextGen Motorsports) and Samuel Lambert (#54, Cyclone Motorcycles).

While WSBK has an overall grid of 22 riders – Italian Leandro Mercado from the IodaRacing team sat out due to injury – ASBK has a field of 35 racers, and even more at some events. They also run three races every weekend compared to WSBK’s two.

Guenther tacked down 11th and 13th place finishes in Races 1 and 2, respectively, but was solidly mid-pack at 17th after Race 3 was red-flagged and restarted due to a serious crash. Lambert earned finishes in 16th, 20th and 14th places for the three races.

“It was a big learning curve this weekend for myself and the NextGen Motorsports team,” Guenther said. “We tried many different settings on the BMW S 1000 RR, and came away with a good direction of what does and doesn’t work – along with a haul of points to start the year.”

The next WSBK races will be from 10-12 March at the Chang International Circuit in Buri Ram, Thailand. ASBK’s next races will be from 17-19 March at Wakefield Park Raceway in Goulburn, New South Wales.

Superbike racing in the USA kicks off 21-23 April in a combined MotoGP-MotoAmerica event at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. BMW S 1000 RR racers Steve Rapp and Jeremy Cook are expected to race for MotoAmerica at COTA.

Tags:  Racing  S1000RR  WSBK 

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A good weekend for BMW in Imola

Posted By Chase Hinderstein, Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The World Superbike Championship at Imola this past weekend showed additional progress for BMW, while the haves continue to dominate the podium.

After a bizarre and dangerous crash during the warm up lap of race 1 on Saturday, the rest of the race went without much drama. Rea tried to put up a good challenge to the new dominant power of Chaz Davies on the Ducati. However the Northern Irish rider could not continue to battle with the Welshman, as his tires wore down later in the race and he did well to hold off his teammate, Tom Sykes, to hang on to second place.

Jordi Torres qualified 6th on his Althea S1000RR BMW and showed great pace throughout to finish 4th. I hope that soon he may challenge for a podium, without the need for rain or a dnf from the typical trio. It's really great to watch him as he gains comfort race by race on the bike. It may not be perfectly suited for him. Torres is almost 6' and he appears to climb around the frame while putting the bike deftly through the turns. In comparison, his teammate Markus Reiterberger is far more elegant on his RR but he just can't maintain the same pace. Reiterberger qualified 8th and still managed good points with a 13th place finish. 

Reiterberger is of similar size but is far more elegant as he carves turn after turn in a smooth clean fashion that's lovely to behold. However, perhaps it's better to be a bit ugly if it's got more pace.

Race 2 on Sunday had similar results on the podium, while the Torres and Reiterberger finished 7th and 12th respectively. Worth noting was the pace of Leon Camier, alone on his MV Agusta team. The company is challenged but a new engine has brought much more speed for Leon and he finshed 6th and 5th between the two races. If MV cannot improve, his name could be mentioned for bigger rides, but he does turn 30 this year.

Two big moments worth viewing.

A major save for Johnny Rea shows that you should never give up on that throttle!


And also a great demonstration of form from Chaz Davies, as he positions himself for an upcoming left hander, while still over and completing a right hander. It's not easy to fight your body over that way.

Tags:  MotoGP  motorsport  Racing  S1000RR  WSBK 

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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 ( 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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