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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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How long until Marquez kills somebody?

Posted By Ray Tubbs, Thursday, April 12, 2018

Nevermind that Marc Marquez clearly broke a simple rule before the race in Argentina even started by riding the wrong direction on the grid.

When Marquez forced Aleix Espargaro off the track in Lap 9, he should have been black flagged immediately. Even for a rider of his skill, there was little chance of a successful pass given the track conditions. Marquez hit Espargaro, plain and simple, and it was entirely due to Marquez being overly aggressive - which has become his thing in the last year.

That contact cost him a position, but what kind of penalty is that for Marquez? Marquez can make up a position in his sleep. He should have been disqualified for causing danger to the life of another racer.

Marquez crashing another racer named Espargaro, in this case Pol, in Moto2 in 2012. (unattributed photo)

What Marquez did to Valentino Rossi in Lap 20 mirrors what he did to Espargaro. Same turn. Same ill-advised attempt to pass. Only this time, he wasn't satisfied with the contact and forced Rossi off the track completely, causing the nine-time-champ to crash in the grass.

When Marquez wasn't black-flagged following that incident, I knew at that moment that MotoGP officials are too weak to do anything about Marquez. The problem is that they may not do anything at all until Marquez puts somebody in the hospital, or worse, kills another rider with his irresponsible behavior on the track.

Penalties are not enough. Marquez should be barred from winning the championship this season. Repsol Honda certainly isn't going to step up and discipline their rider, so MotoGP should take the measure of punishing Marquez.

They won't, though. The four-time reigning champ? They'll do nothing. The penalties inflicted on him on Sunday were barely even slaps on the wrist, costing him points for one race.

Marquez claims he hit a wet patch and locked his front brakes to avoid crashing. That may indeed be the case - the track *was* wet for part of the day, after all. However, Marquez's behavior up to that point was already established as dangerous, if not reckless, and he knew what he was doing when he dived in to go under Rossi. The wet patch is nothing but an excuse.

Marquez's irresponsibility and poor choices on the track are going to get somebody seriously hurt or killed if he's not reined in.

Having said all that, Rossi needs to quit crying about it and remember that he has won MotoGP championships NINE TIMES. He is a world class rider, even if he is past his prime this season. He has been antagonizing Marquez for three years (ever since Rossi bested him by finishing 2nd to Marquez's 3rd in the 2015 season), so it's no surprise that Marquez lashed out like he did. That doesn't excuse Marquez, and I'm not blaming the victim here, but come on, Rossi - man up and complain not to the press, but to MotoGP officials.

I can understand why Rossi refused Marquez's apology after the race, though. I wouldn't have accepted it, either. Marquez has been behaving poorly for more than just this race, and Rossi seems to be the target of his aggression on a number of occasions.

Rossi has already threatened to quit this season if "things don't go well." I never thought I'd hear him say something like that, but he will be 41 years old when his freshly-signed contract extension expires in two years. Maybe he's too old for MotoGP now.

The immediate aftermath of Marquez's behavior in Argentina. (photo by MotoGP)

Both Marquez and Rossi are posing for the cameras now. Maybe their long games are more about legacy and less about racing. It must suck to be Rossi and know that you'll probably never win another championship. It must also suck to be Marquez and know that even with four championships in place, racers like Rossi still don't respect you.

Marquez hasn't been DQ'd since Australia in 2013, when he missed his pit window. As a matter of fact, only two riders have since been DQ'd: Hector Barbera, who earned a DQ in Austria in 2016 and Germany in 2017 for screwing up ride-through penalties, and Alex Rins, who got his DQ in Malaysia in 2017 for not entering pit lane properly after a crash.

Note that these disqualifications - black flags - are all for procedural errors. Until MotoGP starts black flagging riders for overly aggressive and outright dangerous riding, racers like Marquez will continue to escalate, eventually seriously injuring or killing somebody.

Maybe Marquez is simply too young to remember the on-track death of Marco Simoncelli in 2011. Simoncelli was an aggressive rider like Marquez, so maybe Marquez remembers Simoncelli quite well and is hell-bent on emulating every aspect of Simoncelli's career - except for the winning four championships part, at any rate. Simoncelli only ran the top level of MotoGP for two years, but they were controversial years.

To wrap up: Marquez needs to be black flagged until he gets himself under control, and Rossi needs to quit crying and speak to Marquez in the only language he seems to understand - by handing him defeats on the track.

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BMW Motorrad USA announces 2018 Race Contingency Program

Posted By BMW Press Release, Thursday, January 11, 2018

...and expands racer support to other models and race series...

BMW Motorrad USA has expanded its Race Contingency Program for 2018 by offering current and prospective BMW racers incentives to compete on more models and race series than ever before. In addition to offering race rewards for riders competing on the bestselling BMW S 1000 RR superbike in the MotoAmerica Series, BMW Motorrad USA is enhancing its contingency program to support riders competing on the HP4 Race, R nine T Heritage family and the G 310 R in a broader range of road racing series and events throughout the year.

"BMW is pleased to offer over $1.6 million in contingency money to racers piloting a 2015 -2018 model year BMW S 1000 RR, HP4 Race, R nine T and G 310 R in several 2018 national and international race series," commented Michael Peyton, Vice President, BMW Motorrad North America.

"We are also reinforcing our commitment to privateer BMW S 1000 RR motorcycle racers by offering professional trackside support from certified BMW HP Race Engineer Steve Weir and Professional Racer Nate Kern, who will serve as BMW Motorsports advisors at races and at bike set-up events at our retailers," added Peyton.

BMW Motorrad’s Contingency Program is managed online via XTRM Performance Network, which provides real time distribution and management of contingency money payouts, results tracking and social media marketing. Racers piloting a qualifying S 1000 RR, HP4 Race, R nineT or G 310 R can enroll by logging into to cash in on their performance.

BMW Motorrad also offers MotoAmerica racers the opportunity to shine on an international level with the international BMW Motorrad Race Trophy. The Race Trophy provides a platform for racers piloting an S 1000 RR, HP4 or a sidecar with BMW engine, to compete at venues around the world. The BMW Motorrad Race Trophy 2018 is comprised of 27 championships that stage over 290 races in 26 countries on six continents. The overall winner is awarded 15,000 euro, the top 30 riders collect bonuses of 100,000 euro in total. All winners of the several defined categories receive a trophy and additional bonus for their achievements. For more information about the BMW Motorrad Race Trophy, visit

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A positive first test for Althea BMW and Baz at Jerez

Posted By Althea BMW Racing Team Press Release, Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), Tuesday 21 November 2017

The Althea BMW Racing team and its new rider Loris Baz have concluded a two-day test session with positive results. On track at Jerez both today and yesterday, the Italian team made the most of this first opportunity to prepare for the 2018 Superbike world championship.

In dry conditions, Baz rode the BMW S 1000 RR for the first time, building some initial feeling after several seasons spent riding a MotoGP. As this was the Frenchman’s first outing with his new bike, work focusing on his “acclimatisation”, both in the saddle and in the garage, with his new team.

While the technicians worked to adapt the BMW to Loris’ riding style, Baz, in turn, completed 75 laps on day one and 94 today, well aware that the best way to get to grips with his new bike is to clock up the miles. He made good progress over the two days, improving his feeling and confidence and gradually lowering his times lap after lap. His best time set today, a 1.40.468, put him second on the timesheets, a very positive start.

Team Althea BMW is very pleased with the work it has completed this week and will return to Spain for further testing on 4-5 December, at the Cartagena track.

“We've had a very positive test. It was strange at first of course, with a lot of things to get used to, but we’ve worked hard and done a good job I think. I completed many laps, necessary in order to find the right feeling. I really like the bike, particularly the front and the front tyre, while I have more difficulty with the electronics. I am still struggling with the brand new tyre, but we will continue to work on this in future tests. In a race simulation this morning we were pretty fast, in line with the pace seen during the latest Jerez race. So I’m really happy overall and can’t wait for the next sessions.”

“I think these first two days of testing at Jerez have been very positive for our rider, who returns to Superbike after three years in MotoGP, no small challenge. Step by step, Loris has been able to ‘make friends’ with his new bike. He surprised me with regard to his speed and ability to interpret everything we have given him. The team too has worked really well and so I’m pleased. Having such an experienced rider, despite his young age, allows us to work with precision and provide him with the right support. The Kawasakis are still in front, and tomorrow Ducati and Yamaha will be here, so we have to wait and see how things are overall, but I can say that I’m extremely satisfied with this first test.”

Tags:  S1000RR  W 

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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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Donington: a sad and crash-filled weekend for WSBK

Posted By Wes Fleming, Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Everybody had to know that the death of veteran American racer Nicky Hayden would cast a long pall over this weekend's World Superbike round at Donington Park in the UK. On 17 May, just a few days after a disappointing performance in Imola, Italy, Hayden embarked on what would end up being his last bicycle training ride.

Details of the collision haven't been released by Italian authorities yet, but what is known is that Hayden - known as the Kentucky Kid - was struck by a car. After five days in critical condition, he died at just 35 years old.

His 2006 MotoGP championship was the crowning achievement of Hayden's racing career, but American fans remember him from his teenage racing days with the Central Motorcycle Roadracing Association (CMRA). Hayden won the AMA Supersport championship as a privateer in 1999 and became the youngest ever AMA Superbike champion in 2002. He made the jump to MotoGP for the 2003 season and remained in the international motorcycle racing spotlight for the remainder of his career.

This year's World SBK season was largely plagued by technical and handling issues with his Red Bull Honda CBR1000RR, resulting in a string of low-point finishes. His most successful race was in the opening round at Thailand, when he finished 7th in the field in Race 2.

About 2,000 motorcycles showed up to lead Hayden's funeral procession in his hometown of Owensboro, Kentucky, on 29 May 2017.

Coverage of Race 1 at Donington opened with video of Hayden; he said, "Racing motorcycles is a way of life for me. It’s what I know, it’s what I’ve always done." Fans have been sharing their stories of their encounters with Hayden and condolences for his family using #RideOnKentuckyKid on social media.

Race 1

Donington Park in the UK sports a 2.5-mile track with seven right and five left turns, including the Turn 11-12 "Melbourne Loop" that trips up a lot of riders. Weather conditions were cool overall, but heavy winds threatened to upset riders who failed to manage their exits from Turn 8 and the Melbourne Loop. Analysts expected the winds to be more of a factor in the race than the recently resurfaced track, which was still a little bumpy.

Jonathan Rea came into Donington weekend with a solid lead and 235 points in the overall championship standings. Thomas Sykes earned pole position for the race on what is essentially his home track; before Race 1, Sykes held the record for the most WSBK wins (8) at the track that saw the inaugural WSBK race 30 years ago. Racing legend Carl Fogerty only won six times at Donington.

Stefan Bradl - Nicky Hayden's Red Bull teammate - seemed to be holding up well all things considered, but he faced a tough weekend of racing, as did Marco Melandri, who hit the MotoGP track as a rookie in 2003, the same year as Hayden. Many of the racers shared memories and milestones with Hayden, making this weekend's races bittersweet.

The grid featured Sykes, Rea and Chaz Davies in the front row, backed up by Alex Lowes, Melandri and Eugene Laverty. Xavi Forés, Leon Haslam (in his first race back this season) and Leandro Mercado made up the third row. Althea BMW racers Jordi Torres (#81) and Raffaele de Rosa (#35) gridded 13th and 18th, respectively.

It was Davies, Sykes and Rea at the front of the pack through the first turn, with Torres jumping up to 12th and de Rosa to 15th. Big mistakes from Lowes and Melandri in Lap 1 drove them well back in the pack.

Davies rode strong until Lap 7, when he apparently failed to compensate after running onto the overlap and crashed. He recovered and got back onto the track in 15th position, but Rea - who watched his chief rival slide off the track - took full advantage and surged into the lead.

Rea easily held onto his lead into Lap 18, when he began to slow down, running a lap time in the 1.30 range when everybody else was running 1.28 or even 1.27. Next came a wild crash featuring a big slide and his motorcycle destroying itself in a series of spectacular end-over-end flips. Before walking away uninjured, Rea checked the rear tire of his bike, leading to speculation that he may have had some kind of catastrophic tire failure.

With Rea on the sideline, Sykes had no trouble closing the race, winning his unprecedented ninth race at Donington Park by a full 11 seconds. A second place finish for Haslam marked his triumphant return to WSBK, and Lowes rounded out the podium finishers. Melandri and Michael van der Mark came in fourth and fifth; Davies finished eighth with Torres right behind him. De Rosa finished 15th, the highest position that receives points.

Torres summed up this race by saying, "In race one, I had a quite consistent pace, which allowed me to pass a couple of riders. Considering the vibration issues we suffered it was not bad to finish the race in ninth."

As Sykes celebrated his win with a smoky burnout, the championship standings looked to see an upheaval if Race 2 didn't go well for Rea and Davies. Rea received no points for Race 1 due to his crash, which essentially gave Sykes a 50-point jump (Rea not getting 25 for winning, Sykes getting those points instead).

Adding insult to the injury of losing Hayden, Red Bull Honda's Bradl retired from the race with technical problems, ending Honda's 52-race streak of finishing in the points.

Race 2

Thanks to Race 1's results vis-a-vis Rea, Davies and Haslam, Race 2 saw heightened expectations from just about everybody. Rea needed to finish Race 2 in the points, as Sykes only being 50 points back after Race 1 constituted a direct threat to Rea winning the season outright. The uncatchable Rea suddenly seemed catchable, after all.

Torres' top-10 finish highlighted that he is poised for a top-5 finish at any time, especially if he can grid well and continue gaining seven or more positions in each race.

Race 2's grid featured Melandri, van der Mark and Leon Camier on Row 1, followed by Mercado, Davies and Torres in Row 2. Lowes, Haslam and Sykes made up the next row, with Rea, Laverty and Forés behind them. De Rosa again gridded in 18th position.

Where Race 1 was a technical masterpiece from the majority of racers, Race 2 came across more like a track day filled with overcompensating street riders struggling vainly to control motorcycles that were clearly beyond their skill sets.

Randy Krummenacher crashed out in Turn 1 of Lap 1. In the ensuing confusion on the track, Rea zipped through to lead, gaining nine positions in a matter of seconds. Haslam crashed out in Lap 2, followed by Alex de Angelis less than a minute later. Laverty crashed out in Lap 9, followed by Torres, who crashed out in Turn 10.

As if those four racers crashing out in the first half of the race wasn't enough, they were followed in the last quarter of the race by Melandri, Mercado and Lorenzo Savadori. While the SEVEN crashed out riders didn't affect the podium much - though certainly Haslam's crash disappointed fans of his second-place finish in Race 1 - the middle of the pack was greatly affected.

Rea rode to an easy win, earning Kawasaki's 100th WSBK victory. Sykes took second, Davies third and van der Mark fourth. Lowes and Camier followed him, and de Rosa finished 10th, his best finish since taking over for Markus Reiterberger. He said, "Race one was not easy, particularly with the strong wind. I managed to finish the race but the tyre was pretty much destroyed. On Sunday, conditions were different; it was hotter. I tried to improve my pace and while there was a certain degree of improvement I had hoped to do more to be honest. I hope we can make another step forward at Misano."

Championship standings have Rea in the lead with 260 points, followed by Sykes (205), Davies (185), Melandri (137) and Lowes (121). Torres is in ninth with 72 points. The team championship standings have Kawasaki Racing Team in a comfortable lead with 465 points, followed by Racing (Ducati) with 322, Pata Yamaha (223) and Althea BMW (103). The manufacturer's standings are similarly dominated by Kawasaki (285), Ducati (232), Yamaha (135) and BMW (86).

The next World SBK round is at Misano, again in Italy, from 16-18 June.

Photos courtesy of BMW Motorrad, Althea BMW Racing and Red Bull Honda.

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