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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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Michael van der Mark leaves Yamaha, joins BMW

Posted By Wes Fleming, Thursday, July 2, 2020

Shaun Muir Racing and BMW Motorrad announced today the signing of Michael van der Mark for the 2021 World Superbike season. Van der Mark announced on 30 June he would be leaving the Pata Yamaha team at the end of the 2020 season.

This move throws into contention which of BMW's current racers - Tom Sykes or Eugene Laverty - will take the remaining spot on the Shaun Muir/BMW WSBK team, and which rider will be the senior. Sykes, with six WSBK championship podiums to his name, is more likely to remain on the team over Laverty and to remain the senior rider as well.

Van der Mark raced for Honda for two years, switching to Yamaha in 2017 and now moves on to BMW for the 2021 season. The Dutch rider is 27 years old; in 2014, he won the Supersport World Championship aboard a Honda. The highest he has finished in World Superbike is third place overall, in 2018. Van der Mark has also been part of the winning team in the Suzuka 8 Hours four times, in 2013-14 and 2017-18.

Tom Sykes, 34 years old and from West Yorkshire, England, won a World Superbike Championship in 2013 aboard a Kawasaki, and finished second in 2012, 2014 and 2016 as well as third in 2015 and 2017. He finished eighth aboard a BMW S 1000 RR in the 2019 season.

Also 34 years old but from Northern Ireland, Eugene Laverty has never won a world championship. Laverty finished second in the Supersport World Championship in 2009-10 (Honda) and second in the Superbike World Championship in 2013 aboard an Aprilia.

Photo of Van der Mark courtesy of

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Bad habits

Posted By Hugh Kelly #215319, Wednesday, August 7, 2019

In 2009 when I sold my 1996 R 1100 RT, I had 63,000 spirited miles and had upgraded the suspension to Ohlins shocks. I felt comfortable in the corners. Fast forward to 2016: It’s time to get back in. Located a 2003 RT a short ferry ride across Lake Michigan.

Rebuild the forks, fresh tread, valve job, brake flush, you get the idea – but I’m lost in every corner, zero confidence. Somewhere I picked up bag full of bad habits. I looked into a rider safety class in my area but last minute it gets canceled. Blackhawk Farms Raceway is 1.5 hours south and they have a beginners’ class.

When I showed up at Black Hawk Farms Raceway for the first time I parked between an unmolested 1976 R 100 S and a newer BMW S 1000 XR. The XR owner is a MOA member from Madison; we hit it off and Mark was very helpful throughout the day. I road my 2003 RT to the track, pulled the bags and mirrors off, played hard all day and rode back home.

It’s a fast-paced day. Classroom time, return to your bike, get to the staging area, hit the track with your group of 3-4 riders and a coach, then back to the classroom. It’s like that all day. Your Coach leads you out and you need to follow his line, he’s doing it for a reason. Returning from the track session, your coach gives each person something to work on next time out. They don’t overwhelm you, they are just trying to rid you of the bad habits you brought in with you.

You don’t think you have bad habits but wait till your track coach gets a load of your riding style.

  • Elbows too high
  • feet wrong on the pegs
  • not looking through the corner
  • not leaning off the bike at all
  • get that chin to the mirror!
  • stop touching the rear brake

In one of the earlier sessions they want you to not shift gears. Let’s say third gear is the sweet spot you use that around the whole track. It’s a great experience going around the track trying not to touch your brakes and using only your engine for braking power. You learn to trust your front tire to do its job, which builds confidence.

By the third time out on the track your coach decides if you should continue following him or he gives you the wave to go ahead. My coach gave me the wave and I went full bore to start exploring my limits. After the session he leaned in and said I had the heaviest bike out there, so I might want to back off a little.

(By the way: Pay attention in the classroom and drink lots of water!)

That same summer I decided not to spend $3,000 on shocks for the ’03 RT and find a 2014 RT because it has everything updated. For my next trip to Blackhawk Farms, I rented a trailer and got talked into doing an open track day with my newly acquired R 1200 RT. Classroom time but no coaches - just find open track, be smooth and predictable. Things go well. I’m not so nervous trying to find the apex in every corner, but I either come in too soon or too late. After three sessions in the morning and four in the afternoon, I sat out the final session of the day. I almost got T-boned the session before and a guy flew off the track in front of where I was parked. Too many signs time to go home.

Over the winter I decided the 2014 R 1200 RT is not returning to the track, but I enjoyed the lessons gained from cornering at the track and need to continue. I located a clean 2002 Honda CBR600 4FI and will be using that instead of the RT.

Tags:  cbr600  r1200rt  racing  track day 

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James Rispoli to race Singles class at Daytona TT in 2019

Posted By Wes Fleming, Monday, December 17, 2018

You'd be forgiven if you didn't recognize James Rispoli's name right away. I mean, sure, he's only been racing since he was 6 years old, but still. He's won championships in 80, 250, 450 and 505 ccs and is the youngest rider (at 16) to win at the Daytona International Speedway. After running Flat Track for a while, Rispoli switched to Pro SuperSport and became the only rider to date to win both East and West Coast Pro SuperSport Championships back-to-back.

Oh - and he holds two records at the Bonneville Salt Flats, too.

Rispoli has been racing in England since 2014, tearing up British Superbike's (BSB) Supersport series on the other side of the pond to the tune of seven podium finishes in the 2018 season. However, due to the super competitive nature of British Supersport, he finds himself without a spot on the track in 2019. As a way to hopefully attract some sponsors back in the good old USA, he'll be heading to Daytona in March to challenge the anticipated frontrunners for a win on the famous TT track there.

Kieran Clarke, himself a former pro racer and now a Hollywood stuntman, will be backing Rispoli's Daytona ride. Clarke said, "We are building a bike to win, and at the end of the day racing has to be all about the racer being able to fulfill their talent & potential. In the end we are aiming for the top step." With that kind of attitude, it will be exciting to see how Clarke and Rispoli fare on the ground in Daytona - it's sure to be exciting!

For more information, check out AFT's website at Note: The New York Short Track (Weedsport, NY) previously scheduled for 6 July 2019 has been moved to 13 July. Additionally, the date for the Meadowlands Mile (East Rutherford, NJ) has been set for 28 September.

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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

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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