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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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American Flat Track updates rules for 2019, punishing Indian's FTR750

Posted By Wes Fleming, Thursday, November 15, 2018

Racing circuits change their rules from time to time, ostensibly to keep things competitive, address unforeseen loopholes, enhance the safety of the riders, address emerging or outdated technology, and many other reasons. While some teams might complain a little here and there, the rules changes are usually fair and don't serve to punish or reward any particular team or brand of motorcycle.

Most rule changes are minor - clarifications or subtle changes that don't matter too terribly much. Things like alterations in how many events last season qualifies a rider for a license or how eligibility is determined, that kind of thing. One change of note is that no rider licensed for Twins may compete in Singles next year, which seems a little spiteful. If somebody wants to race and has the appropriate motorcycle on which to do so, I say let 'em race!


Jared Mees after winning the 2018 Daytona TT on an Indian FTR750. Photo from MCNews.com.au.

Having said that, it's hard not to agree with Indian Motorcycle when they complain that one particular rule change for 2019 is an attack on the dominance their FTR750 race bike has shown in AFT for the last two seasons. Yes, yes, we have to admire the skills and capabilities of riders like Jared Mees and Bryan Smith (not to mention the upstart Bauman brothers). Let's look at what's going on.

Up until now we've gotten used to seeing 18 riders in the Main Event - that is, the race for the actual glory that follows the Semi-Final races. The top riders from each Semi advance to the Main, and bam! there's 18 bikes - three rows of six. The new rule for 2019 is that only 16 riders will compete in the Main - two rows of five and a row of six. This cuts two riders out of the Main - and AFT has given no explanation as of yet as to why they've made this change. It could cut down on the chaos that is the entry into Turn 1 on the first lap, but come on - they're all still going to charge down the straight and bang bars to be first out of that turn.

The new process will be sending the top 30 riders from Qualifying to the Heats. Each Heat will have 15 riders in it, with the top 12 going to the Semis. In the two Semis, those 12 riders will compete for the top eight slots to get into the Main. (This applies only when there are 26 or more entries for the Twins; under that, there's no Heat races. Over in Singles, that process is the same as Twins, unless there are more than 33 riders, in which case they add a Heat.)

One change I can't argue with is the adoption of full-face road-racing helmets for all classes. The motocross-style helmets look cool, but those protrusions on them can be dangerous in a crash at the speeds at which AFT races happen. Race-prepped full-face helmets are a great idea to enhance rider safety.

Some changes I don't understand include the new requirement that a rider check with a race official before manually - without tools - adjusting a clutch cable or brake lever. Not only must the race official approve the adjustment, but they must witness it as well. It seems petty and overly invasive to insist on a rider asking permission to adjust the clutch cable with their finger and thumb. Riders in the Production Twins class are now prohibited from using carbon fiber wheels, but they didn't change the wheel weight maximum of 40 pounds.

Another small change is the reduction of the minimum weight for a Singles bike from 235 to 230 pounds. This makes sense, as technology advances and metallurgical changes allow stronger components that weigh less. No clue why they didn't reduce the minimum for Twins down by five pounds as well.


Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. aboard a Harley-Davidson XR750 race bike. Photo from Cycle World.

Change that only affect Singles include the possible mandatory use of a Supermoto-style front fender, but the new rulebook says it is currently "being investigated," so it may or may not materialize before the season starts next March. One change that is not "being investigated" is the ban on using any kind of supplementary fuel injectors in this class. I guess that was a problem, so they needed a rule to ban it.

Now is when we get into the more significant changes. AFT has mandated a change from using Supreme 112 gas to GTX 260 Unleaded (both made by Sunoco), which has lower octane than the Supreme. Perhaps they're trying to maintain a cap on speed, because this will reduce power across the board. Still, it affects everybody equally, so no real complaint here. I'm sure the drop in power will be negligible when it comes to lap times - noticeable to the timekeeper but not to the fans.

Where we start to get into weird territory is the new engine rules. AFT will now allow engines up to 900cc - provided they come from a street-legal production model. Because it's racing, these "production" engines are allowed to be bored out to 900cc and tweaked by changing out the valves, pistons & conrods, cams and crankshafts. These changes will obviously continue to favor teams with factory support or those that have sponsors with deep pockets. It's a clear disadvantage to privateers who finance their own rides, but that's no real change over how things have been up to this point.

What it is, though, is a shot across Indian's bow. The FTR750 is not a street-legal production motorcycle, and everybody knows it. Indian built it as a race bike - you can buy one, sure, but you can't ride it on the street. For example, it allows riders on Kawasaki or Yamaha motorcycles to bore out their engines or fit larger-displacement engines into their race bikes, giving them a clear advantage over riders on Indian or Harley-Davidson 750cc motorcycles. It's not a horrible change, but it definitely singles out Indian and punishes them for dominating the podiums and season standings with a 750cc V-twin.


Jesse Janisch, AFT Singles racer, aboard his Yamaha YZ450F. Photo from American Flat Track.

(By the way, the rules have been changed to say that to qualify as a production engine, the engine must use the original crankcases or OEM replacements.)

What Indian is really complaining about, though, is a new rule allowing larger throttle bodies on - you guessed it - production engines. Anybody who can point to a street-legal bike with their engine in it can now use 40mm throttle bodies, while those who cannot are restricted to 38mm TBs. This gives a clear advantage to everybody not riding an Indian FTR750, especially at the Mile events, where those long straightaways let the riders get their bikes up to near full power.

In 2019, there are 18 races scheduled; six of them are on mile-long tracks. (There are four TT races and the remaining eight are half-mile tracks.) If the advantage is as significant as Indian is making it out to be, there's almost no point in Indian riders even bothering to show up to these six races.

What I don't like about these rule changes, especially the one that really only affects Indian, is that AFT is changing the rules to punish Indian for making a great race bike. Indian is justified to complain about it, and indeed, they sent out a press release earlier today to that effect. Race bikes are expensive, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be purpose-built. Nobody is taking a stock Yamaha to the Peoria TT, after all. Teams with factory support will always fare better than privateers simply because they have the luxury of support, parts, money etc. from the source.

Of course, anything I have to say is mere speculation about how the rule changes will affect AFT races next season. Indian has a long time to get ready for the 2019 season - the Daytona TT isn't until March. If they're as resourceful as I think they are, they'll hit the track with rule-abiding bikes (and riders) that continue to outpace and outrace the competition.

Tags:  AFT  flat track  Harley-Davidson  Indian 

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World SBK releases 2019 schedule

Posted By Wes Fleming, Tuesday, November 13, 2018

(this is from a press release sent out by World SBK this morning)

2019 provisional MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship Calendar

Beginning with the traditional season opener at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, fans will be able to see three WorldSBK races for the first time ever from 22nd – 24th February, before Round Two of the championship is held from 15th – 17th March at Chang International Circuit.

The paddock then returns to Europe on 5th – 7th April at MotorLand Aragon, welcoming back WorldSSP300 to the racing action with their all new format for the season ahead. The next stop on the 2019 tour will be one week later at TT Circuit Assen from 12th – 14th April, before a short break of racing action. Round Five takes place at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola from 10th – 12th May, before the return of the ever popular Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto from 7th – 9th June.

WorldSBK heads back to Italy from 21st – 23rd June, to the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli for Round Seven, before a change of date for the UK Round at Donington Park from 5th – 7th July. After the British adventure, Round Nine is set to be announced.

Autodromo Internacional do Algarve will be the now traditional round after the summer break, as the paddock heads to Portugal from 6th – 8th September. The final European Round will be held from 27th – 29th September at Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, but we won’t be saying goodbye to WorldSSP300 yet.

Circuito San Juan Villicum returns for the second season from 11th – 13th October in Argentina, before all three classes will prepare for the season finale in Qatar at Losail International Circuit. The chequered flag will be waved from 24th – 26th October in the desert, in what is set to be another adrenaline-fueled year of racing action.

On top of this, there will be two official tests in 2019: the first from 18th – 19th February at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, with a mid-season test to be announced.

  • 18-19 Feb: Testing Session (Phillip Island, Australia)
  • 22-24 Feb: Australia (Phillip Island)
  • 15-17 Mar: Thailand (Buriram)
  • 5-7 Apr: Spain (Aragon)
  • 12-14 Apr: The Netherlands (Assen)
  • 10-12 May: Italy (Imola)
  • 7-9 Jun: Spain (Jerez)
  • 21-23 Jun: Italy (Misano)
  • 5-7 Jul: UK (Donington)
  • 19-21 Jul: TBA
  • 6-8 Sep: Portugal (Portimão)
  • 27-29 Sep: France (Magny-Cours)
  • 11-13 Oct: Argentina (San Juan)
  • 24-26 Oct: Qatar (Losail)

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MotoAmerica releases schedule for 2019

Posted By Wes Fleming, Thursday, November 8, 2018

(this is from a press release sent out by MotoAmerica this morning)

MotoAmerica has announced its provisional calendar for the 2019 MotoAmerica Series with the 10-round championship set to continue its trend of building the race series through consistency of both location and dates while also tweaking a few things along the way, including the introduction of four two-day events in place of the traditional three-day events.

“We’re happy with our schedule as we enter the fifth year of the MotoAmerica Series,” said MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey. “I think having the same events return on dates that are the same or very similar to years past brings more stability to the series. Our fans can start to really plan for our events, year to year, based on the consistency of our dates and our racetracks. We are also introducing four two-day events to the schedule in an effort to tighten things up a bit and I’m looking forward to seeing how those evolve. We believe some of our racetracks might do better with a two-day program while others obviously work well for a three-day program because of the number of our fans who go to those events to camp. We only just finished year four and we’re already looking forward to getting to Road Atlanta in April.”

As previously announced, the MotoAmerica Series, which features the Motul Superbike Championship as its headline class, will begin again at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, April 5-7, before heading to Austin, Texas, and the Circuit of The Americas for round two, April 12-14. As has been the case since the series made its debut in 2015, the COTA round will be held in conjunction with the Grand Prix of The Americas. The COTA round is also a Motul Superbike-only round.

From Texas the series will head east to VIRginia International Raceway, May 4-5, for the Championship of Virginia and the first of four two-day events on the schedule. Road America will play host to round four on its traditional date of the first weekend in June, May 31-June 2, followed a few weeks later by the two-day Utah Motorsports Campus round on the outskirts of Salt Lake City, June 15-16. The big change for the UMC round is that MotoAmerica will use the shorter East Course (2.2 miles) rather than the Outer Course (3.048 miles) the series has used in previous years.

“We believe the shorter East Course will provide better viewing for spectators at the Club House and in the paddock area because you can see the entire track,” MotoAmerica Partner Chuck Aksland said. “This will definitely enhance the spectator experience.”

MotoAmerica will venture to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, July 12-14, for what promises to be a weekend to remember with the Monterey Motorcycle Festival featuring MotoAmerica. For the first time in its five-year history of racing on the Monterey Peninsula, MotoAmerica will be a standalone event at the historic racetrack with the weekend to include racing legends, celebrities, vintage racing exhibitions, and a classic motorcycle auction.

“We are pleased to be heading to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for a fifth year,” said Rainey. “Since I make my home here, it’s obviously one of my favorites but it is also one of the most popular events on the calendar. We have big plans to make this year’s event a memorable one with a weekend chock-full of activities for our fans.”

The series then takes a one-month summer break before setting up camp at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California, for a two-day event, August 10-11.

The premier motorcycle road racing championship in the country then heads back east for the final three rounds, beginning at Pittsburgh International Raceway Complex, August 23-25, followed by the two-day New Jersey Motorsports Park round, September 7-8.

The series finale, meanwhile, will again take place at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, September 20-22.

2019 MotoAmerica Series (Provisional)

  • April 5-7 – Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia
  • April 12-14 – Circuit of The Americas, Austin, Texas
  • May 4-5 – VIRginia International Raceway, Alton, Virginia
  • May 31-June 2 – Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
  • June 15-16 – Utah Motosports Campus, Grantsville, Utah
  • July 12-14 – WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, California
  • August 10-11 – Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, California
  • August 23-25 – Pittsburgh International Race Complex, Wampum, Pennsylvania
  • September 7-8 – New Jersey Motorsports Park, Millville, New Jersey
  • September 20-22 – Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama

About MotoAmerica
MotoAmerica is the North American road racing series created in 2014 that is home to the AMA Superbike Championship. MotoAmerica is an affiliate of KRAVE Group LLC, a partnership that includes three-time 500cc World Champion, two-time AMA Superbike Champion, and AMA Hall of Famer Wayne Rainey, ex-racer and former manager of Team Roberts Chuck Aksland, motorsports marketing executive Terry Karges, and businessman Richard Varner. For more information on MotoAmerica, visit www.MotoAmerica.com. Also make sure to follow MotoAmerica on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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BMW returns (officially!) to World SBK for 2019 - and look who's riding the S 1000 RR!

Posted By Wes Fleming, Tuesday, November 6, 2018

As even a casual World Superbike fan, you may be already familiar with the Milwaukee Aprilia team. Ace racers Eugene Laverty (IRL #50) and Lorenzo Savadori (ITA #32) run their RSV4 race bikes around the World SBK tracks fairly well, with Laverty finishing ninth and Savadori 13th in the 2018 season.

What you may not know is that the power behind Milwaukee Aprilia is Shaun Muir Racing, and it's OK if you've never heard of them. SMR is big in the UK, and they're expanding their footprint in World SBK for the 2019 season by bringing BMW into the mix.

FROM A BMW MOTORRAD PRESS RELEASE:
"BMW Motorrad Motorsport will be entering the new BMW S 1000 RR in the FIM World Superbike Championship (WorldSBK) as of the upcoming 2019 season. The new BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team will enter the contest in collaboration with Shaun Muir Racing and with a well-known rider pairing: 2013 Superbike World Championship winner Tom Sykes (GBR) together with reigning Superstock 1000 European champion and three-times IDM champion Markus Reiterberger (GER).

With the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and the cooperation with Shaun Muir Racing, BMW Motorrad is significantly expanding its engagement in the WorldSBK. At the same time, BMW Motorrad will continue its successful customer racing program in numerous other national and international racing series.

Cooperation with BMW Group Motorsport is also being intensified so as to tap into additional synergies between automobile and motorcycle racing, especially in terms of trade and logistics."

Well now! Isn't THAT interesting!?

BMW has been conspicuously absent from World Superbike for a number of years. Althea Racing has been alone in flying the BMW flag. Back in the 2017 WSBK season, they had Jordi Torres (ESP #81) and Markus Reiterberger (GER #28) racing for them; in April and citing a nagging injury, Reiterberger took himself off the team and joined a different (less stressful ... less competitive?) circuit, where he comported himself just fine as he continued to recover.


Markus Reiterberger in action. (courtesy Althea Racing)

Reiterberger comported himself so well that he won the European Superstock 1000 championship for the 2018 season.


Markus Reiterberger not in action. (courtesy Althea Racing)

There isn't a lot of detailed information right now, but the shocking thing about all of this is the news that Tom Sykes left his factory Kawasaki team, where he has been chafing at being in teammate (and 4x champ) Jonathan Rea's ever-lengthening shadow. Sykes simply couldn't catch a break during this long period of REAZILLA dominance. Perhaps he thinks a change of backing and bike will be what does the trick to return him to the top spot on the championship podium.


Tom Sykes in action. (By Dunnybrusher - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56621965)

It is certainly great news for race fans that ride BMWs that there will be not one, but two world-class riders piloting RRs round WSBK tracks in 2019 - and one of them a former circuit champion to boot! No slight on Reiterberger - he is obviously a top-notch rider and, now returned to full health, he's likely to be a force to be reckoned with in WSBK - but enticing Sykes onto a BMW is a massive coup for the marque.  If anybody can put an S 1000 RR on the podium, it's Tom Sykes. We'll be watching in 2019, that's for sure!!


Tom Sykes smiling. (By Jared Earle: Jearle - Silverstone World Superbikes, 2012, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21225392)

Fans can connect with both riders on Twitter (@TheRealTomSykes, @Reiti21) and Instagram (@tom66sykes, @markusreiterberger28). 

(Sources: Superbike Planet, Motorbike Planet, Crash.net)

Tags:  S100RR  WSBK 

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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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