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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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Nicky Hayden critically injured in bicycle/car collision

Posted By Wes Fleming, Wednesday, May 17, 2017

UPDATE, 22 MAY 17: Unfortunately, Nicky Hayden has died as a result of injuries sustained in the collision. This was confirmed by information released from the hospital where he was being cared for.

Our thoughts are with Hayden's friends and family as well as the entire racing world as we all mourn his loss.

Reference: ESPN story.

UPDATE, 19 MAY 17: Contrary to a news article making its way through social media, Hayden has not died. According to a statement from Earl Hayden, Nicky's father, the WSBK racer has not had surgery and is not in a medically induced coma, though he remains in critical condition. His mother Rose and brother Tommy are at his side in hospital.

American World Superbike racer Nicky Hayden has been critically injured in a bicycle-car collision in San Marino, Italy.


Photo courtesy of beIN Sports.

Reports are coming in fast, but not all of them are fleshed out. Some have said he's in a medically induced coma, others have not mentioned that. What is apparent is that he suffered severe head and chest injuries during a training ride when he collided with a Peugeot. He is currently (17 May 17, 3 pm Eastern time) in hospital in Cesena and may undergo surgery soon. Cycle World reports Hayden was transferred from Rimini to Cesena by helicopter.

Hayden, 35 years old, races for Honda and you can follow their Twitter feed (@HondaWSBK) for breaking news.

Tags:  crash  Nicky Hayden  WSBK 

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Did you see that bike explode at WSBK Imola? I did!

Posted By Wes Fleming, Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Race 1

Both races this weekend were delayed due to safety issues; Race 2 actually started and was quickly red-flagged before a lengthy delay led to a restart.

Chaz Davies came into Imola a heavy favorite on a track that favors the power curve of his Ducati. He also debuted his new X-Lite helmet paint job, a sharp-looking tribute to the Italian national flag.


Photo courtesy of Cycle News.

Italians in this weekend's race include Rafaelle de Rosa (BMW S 1000 RR), Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia RSV4), Marco Melandri (Ducati Panigale R), Ayrton Badovini (Kawasaki ZX-10RR), and Riccardi Russo (Yamaha YZF-1). There wasn't an empty seat in sight, and the crowd was vocal throughout the races.

BMW rider for Team Althea Jordi Torres missed Superpole 2 due to illness and didn't race on Saturday. His teammate Raffaele De Rosa crashed twice in practice & Superpole sessions, and is thus relegated to 16th on the grid for Race 1. The usual names are at the front of the grid: Davies, Sykes, Rea in Row 1; Camier, Melandri, Laverty right behind them. Pretty much all the riders have an SE0 soft rear tire; Davies used a softer front tire than the majority of the field.


Jordi Torres, #81

Rea has won five times at Imola, and has won 7 of 8 races so far this season. Sykes came into Imola 64 points behind Rea, Davies 20 points behind him.

Race 1 started off with Davies taking the hole shot, with Melandri right behind. Sykes pulled a big wheelie off start and found himself in fourth position. De Rosa came through the first few turns in 18th position.


Raffaele de Rosa, #35

Davies making early gap of 1 second; Melandri holding Rea off but Rea challenging hard. All the riders had difficulty with the vicious double 90-degree chicane right before start/finish straight, but De Rosa rose to 16th going into Lap 2. Rea has shown his willingness to play the long game, so his early third position in the field was likely no worry for him. Melandri was full second behind Davies, but half a second ahead of Rea, who stumbled a bit through the final chicane. Rea's teammate Sykes right on his tail, making the field Ducati-Ducati-Kawasaki-Kawasaki.

On the same lap that Davies set new track record w/ 1.46.393 lap - 0.4 sec. faster than previous lap record, De Rosa dropped back to 17th on lap 3. Then Mercado (#36) crashed in Turn 7, dropping out. In Lap 4, Rea closed the gap on Melandri, but Davies continued pulling away. Rea put tremendous pressure on Melandri, who worked hard to stay ahead of the points leader. A quick wobble from Melandri allowed Rea to take advantage, pass and immediately start pulling away to try to close on Davies' 1.5-second lead.

Hayden dropped out in Lap 5, indicating trouble with the front end of the bike. Xavi Forés pulled into 5th place, showing one of his strongest efforts to date, with Laverty and Camier battling for 6th place. By then, Davies had a 4.5-second lead. Sykes pushed Melandri, trying to take over 4th place. Rea was solidly in second, not closing the gap on Davies and perhaps waiting for Davies to make a mistake or crash. By Lap 8, Davies increased his lead to 5.25 seconds.

With 7 laps to go, Davies had 7.5-second lead, but he didn't relax, keeping his lap times in the mid-to-high 1.46 range. He only ran three laps in the low 1.47 range.

With no warning, Eugene Laverty had a spectacular crash coming out of Turn 17. The replay showed contact between Lowes' rear tire and Laverty's front end, resulting in Laverty's front fender breaking off. It appeared to get bound up in the front wheel or the front brake, and rocketed straight through the gravel into the wall. Laverty ejected, and the bike dramatically exploded when it hit the wall. Laverty was taken for a medical checkup - he was OK, just a little beat up - and officials determined there was no fault/malice in contact that caused the crash. An understandable red flag stopped the race.

The Race Marshals declared the race complete with six laps to go due to the red flag. Davies took the win, finishing 6.6 seconds ahead of second-place Rea. Melandri took third, then Sykes, Forés, Camier, van der Mark and Lowes. De Rosa finished 14th, 43.5 seconds behind Davies. Davies' top speed was 282.3 kmh (175.4 mph).

Due to his fourth-place finish, Tom Sykes got pole position for Race 2; he usually shows strongly when he starts from front row. Rea was remarkably sanguine about finishing second, congratulating Davies and saying he looked forward to better finishes at future tracks. It was odd to see Rea basically conceding the second race to Davies, but in nine of the last 13 rounds, the winner of Race 1 has also won Race 2.

The mayor of Imola came out to award the trophies. Davies and Rea appeared cordial with each other, perhaps showing that they've moved past the animosity between them on display for the last couple of rounds. Claudio Domenicali, the CEO of Ducati, attended the weekend's festivities and accepted the team win trophy, getting soaked with Prosecco by Davies in the process.

 

RACE 2

Race 2 was slated for the same 19 laps around Imola's 4.936 km (3.067 miles) track of nine right and 13 left turns, including two 90-degree chicanes, but it was quite a different race. Other than a little early excitement, it was a more sedate race than Saturday's affair, perhaps because nobody's motorcycle exploded. Conditions on the track were hot, with the temperature approaching 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit).

With the front of the grid looking pretty normal for this season's Race 2 events (Sykes, Forés, Camier in Row 1; van der Mark, Lowes, Ramos in Row 2; Melandri, Rea, Davies in Row 3), Laverty gridded 10th for Race 2 after his fiery crash in Race 1 caused him - obviously - to drop out. Team Milwaukee's Aprilias gridded 10-11-12 (Laverty, Mercado, Savadori). Team Althea's De Rosa gridded 16th after 15th place finish in Race 1. De Rosa's senior teammate Jordi Torres gridded 21st after failing to get a time in Superpole or participate in Race 1 due to gastrointestinal distress. Confidentially, the word on the street was that his sluices were open at both ends, but clearly he's gotten that under control for Race 2.

If Sykes managed to get the hole shot and if he could hold on to the lead for a few laps, popular wisdom was that he could finish on the podium. He did indeed get the hole shot and managed to hold the lead through about the first half of Lap 1. Torres rose two positions by Turn 5.

Rea was in fourth and Davies in ninth going into Lap 2, a rough start for the Race 1 winner. However, the engine on Ayrton Badovini's Team Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R gave out in Turn 16, spreading smoke in the air and oil on the track. The red flag came out again, and Race Marshalls decided to restart the race with original grid positions, not race positions at the time of the flag. They shaved one lap off the length of the race, waited for track workers to use cement dust to absorb the fluids on the track, brooms to spread it, and then a tractor with a giant directional fan to blow most of the cement dust off the track. Forty hot minutes after the red flag, Race 2 restarted.

Sykes got the hole shot again, but critically, Davies got a much better start and went into Turn 3 in sixth position. Rea moved into 3rd position before half the initial lap was over. Lingering loose cement dust on the track from Badovini's grenaded engine gave the riders - including Camier and Davies - some trouble. Rea ran wide in a chicane due to carrying too much speed into the second half of the chicane; he gave way and dropped to sixth position behind Forés. Melandri had trouble with a chicane as well.

Torres rose to 14th position in Lap 2, with De Rosa not far behind in 16th. Sykes continued to lead, with Camier, Davies and Melandri close on his rear tire and Rea in 5th. Rea seemed impatient, perhaps concerned that Davies was statistically likely to win the race and there hasn't been a round yet in which Rea failed to earn at least one first-place finish. Sykes was able to maintain a two-second lead through Laps 3 and 4.

Camier crashed in Turn 12, out of the race after running in 2nd place for the whole of the first three laps. Davies rose to 2nd, with Rea behind him in 3rd. De Angelis followed Camier in the same lap, crashing out in Turn 19. Torres rose to 12th, De Rosa to 13th, both of them trying to catch Mercado and American Nicky Hayden, who continued to fight his Honda for dominance on the track.

Davies pulled in fastest lap with 1.46.720, started chipping away at Sykes' two-second lead. By Lap 7, Sykes' lead was just 0.3 of a second - about a bike length. Davies made his move in the first chicane of Lap 8, passing Sykes and quickly opening up a half-second gap. Rea remained in 3rd, but with a 1.5-second gap to make up to catch Sykes. In mid-Lap 9, De Rosa dropped back to 14th thanks to a nice pass by Savadori; at the same time, Torres rose one position to 11th and started to put pressure on Hayden.

Rea mercilessly gained on his teammate Sykes, steadily closing the gap to 0.2 of a second in Lap 10. Sykes pushed his bike hard, sliding through turns and putting up puffs of smoke from that abused rear tire. Sykes' defensive riding eventually gave way to Rea's expertise, but it was an incredible effort on the part of Sykes. Davies extended his comfort gap out front to three seconds as Rea started putting distance between himself (in 2nd) and his teammate Sykes.

Finishing in second or third would mean different things for Sykes; if he finished in third and Davies won the race, then they would switch places in the overall point standings, with Davies taking over second place. A second place finish in Race 2 by Sykes would keep him second in the points behind Rea.

Hayden stumbled in Lap 13, allowing Torres and Mercado to get past him. De Rosa dropped back another spot to 15th, while Torres set his sights on Ramos in ninth place ahead of him. Torres made his move to collect Ramos in mid-Lap 15, easily making the pass as he continued to make up about a full second a lap. Catching van der Mark looked like a piece of work - difficult, but not impossible - given the short amount of time left in the race.

Going into the last lap, it looked as if the final standing would be Davies, Rea and Sykes on the podium, with Torres in 9th and De Rosa in 15th. Then Krummenacher passed De Rosa, bumping him back to 16th and robbing him of the one point assigned for finishing in 15th.

Davies indeed won the race handily, taking his first double win of the season since nobody was able to catch him once he took the lead. Rea followed, then Sykes, Forés, Melandri, Lowes, Laverty and - surprise! Torres in 8th after he managed to pick off van der Mark at the last second.

Torres had the most impressive performance of the race, using the power and technology available to him with the S 1000 RR to make up an astonishing 13 places over his grid start. "We had a good race today," Torres said, continuing, "Fortunately I’ve recovered after yesterday’s illness and that didn’t affect me at all during the race. Starting last on the grid, it wasn’t easy of course, but I was able to quickly get into a good rhythm. I hoped to be able to do a little more actually but in these conditions with the tyre that we use it was the best I could do. I thank the team, the result is good considering we lost the whole day yesterday and then I want to thank the Clinica Mobile, because without their help I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did today."

De Rosa added, "It was a difficult race, with two red flags. The third start turned out to be the worst for me, I was having trouble stopping the bike, and particularly defending myself from the other riders. With the pace I had, I think fifth was about all we could do today, conditions weren’t easy. I thank the whole team for their great work this weekend, we’ve scored some points and I hope we do more at Donington."

The championship points standings have Rea still in first place with 235 points. Davies is 74 points back, with Sykes one point behind him. Torres has 65 points and is in eighth place. The manufacturer's standings still see Kawasaki in first place with 235 points, Ducati in 2nd (-32), Yamaha in 3rd (-129) and BMW in 4th (-162).

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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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Largely disappointing results for BMW at WSBK Assen

Posted By Wes Fleming, Thursday, May 4, 2017
Updated: Thursday, May 4, 2017

Jonathan Rea entered the Assen round having won five of this season’s six headline races. Chaz Davies won the second race in Aragon in the third round.

What used to be friendship between them seems to be turning into a bitter rivalry. After leaving the previous track lap record in the dust during qualification, Rae should have been on pole for the first race, but due to the two racers yelling and gesturing at each other during Superpole 2 - initiated when Davies reached out and grabbed Rea’s arm. FIM officials decided to penalize Rea to fourth position for the start, saying he precipitated the event with irresponsible riding.

WSBK commentator Steve English interviewed Chaz Davies about the incident. Davies accused Rea of staying in the middle of the track and blocking him from achieving his best qualifying lap speed, an accusation backed up by FIM’s decision to drop Rea back a row for the start of Race 1. Rea didn’t comment on the incident, instead choosing to discuss track conditions with English.


Jordi Torres, #81, from Spain. Torres is 29 years old and won the Spanish Moto2 championship twice; he also won the German Grand Prix Moto2 in 2013. He has been racing in WorldSBK since 2015.
 


Raffaele de Rosa, #35, from Italy. De Rosa is 30 years old and won the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup in 2016. He was Rookie of the Year for Moto2 in 2009.

 

All in all, it’s not much of a penalty, seeing as how Rea won three consecutive Race 2s from the ninth spot of the grid; he was 50 points ahead of Davies in the overall standings going into Race 1 as well. Thomas Sykes moved from second to pole, and the other riders on row one moved up as well.

The grid for Race 1 looked much like previous races, but with minor exceptions. Markus Reiterberger is out for the season, replaced on the Althea BMW Racing Team by Italian rider Raffaele de Rosa (#35). De Rosa has a good history with Althea, winning last season’s Superstock championship for them. Lorenzo Savadori was back on the grid, having missed the first three rounds of the season due to lingering issues from an injury.

RACE 1

The grid started with Sykes, Davies and Savadori; then Rea, Melandri and Laverty. Torres gridded 9th, De Rosa 18th in the next-to-last row. Savadori had a problem with his bike as the other riders took off on the sighting lap. It looked as if he was having trouble getting his bike into first gear; whatever the problem was, they got it figured out and Savadori started the race as expected.

Davies took the holeshot with Melandri right behind him. Hometown hero van der Mark ran wide on Turn 1, costing him precious positions (replay footage showed clear contact with another rider being the reason he ran wide). A quarter of the way through Lap 1, Rea was already in third place, right behind Sykes in second. Before the end of Lap 1, Rea overtook his teammate to take second position. Davies stood to benefit as Sykes and Rea swapped spots, and he even built a small gap os the riders turned Lap 1 into Lap 2.

Torres was in 10th through Lap 1, with de Rosa in 13th; de Rosa soon dropped to 16th, though. Van der Mark crashed out of Race 1 in Turn 5, snapping his handlebar off in the fall and no doubt disappointing the sellout crowd in the Netherlands. By Lap 3, Rea was securely in second place and Davies’ attempt to build a lead had failed. Trailing Rea in the front group of four were Sykes and Melandri. Torres remained in 10th, with de Rosa rising one slot to 15th. Xavi Forés, whose bike spectacularly caught on fire at Aragon, led the second pack into Lap 6.

By Lap 8, Melandri drifted to three seconds behind the front group, but he remained well ahead of the following pack, holding on to fourth position with little difficulty. Torres made a move in Lap 9, passing Bradl to take over ninth position and move up in the second pack. Bradl took his spot back in the following lap.

Rea maintained the pressure on Davies as the lap count grew, and clear differences in their riding styles became obvious. Davies throws his right leg out before many of the right turns, ostensibly to stabilize his Ducati. Rea took tighter lines through most turns, and broke out of Davies’ slipstream on the longer straights. Rea simply never let up, pressuring Davies at every point.

Lowes crashed out in Turn 10 of Lap 14, spraying pieces of his Yamaha super bike across the gravel trap. Torres, meanwhile, clawed his way up to 7th position, staying ahead of Bradl but having to work hard to do so. De Rosa continued to move between 15th and 16th positions. Irishman Eugene Laverty found himself being chased by Torres, who created a gap ahead of Stefan Bradl and pushed his BMW S 1000 RR to catch Laverty. Bradl’s Honda seemed to have a loose rear end; it’s possible his choice of tire failed him slightly in the last few laps of the race.

Torres caught and passed Laverty with just five laps to go, but faced a four-second gap to catch Forés. Rea finally made his move at the end of Lap 18, briefly passing Davies but giving up first place in the next turn. It looked more like a shot across Davies’ bow, letting the Ducati rider know that the guy on the Kawasaki was ready to challenge for the top of the podium.

At the end of the following lap, Davies bobbled a turn briefly, allowing Rea to slide past, but again, Davies retrieved his lead. With two laps to go, the two riders continued swapping first and second. Going into Turns 6 and 7, Rea commandingly took the lead and began to ride defensively to keep Davies behind him. Davies had a problem with his bike and dropped out of the race. Rea won easily after spending the vast majority of the race in second place.

Torres suffered a flat tire, dropping out of the race just before the last lap. De Rosa finished in 13th place, earning points in his seventh career WSBK race. Sykes finished second, Melandri third, and Forés fourth - which secured him the pole position for Race 2.

Torres (pictured above) said after the race, "We were very unlucky in the race. In the Superpole we set a good time, though we're still quite a way from the leaders, and our race pace seemed good through the practices. In the race, I made a good start but, not entirely sure about the tire, I held back a little to conserve it. Despite this I made good progress and was lying sixth, but then a few laps from the end the rear tire started to vibrate too much. The problem got worse and I realized I had a puncture, so I had to stop. A pity, because I had been lapping well and could have scored a good result today. We'll see whether to use a different tire for tomorrow's race."

De Rosa added, "Considering that this was my first race in several months, I started with the intention of completing as many miles as possible, or rather crossing the finish line. I'm pleased because I was a little more constant than I was in the practices. We've scored a few points, which is OK for my first race. The positive thing is that I've improved my feeling and my level of confidence in preparation for tomorrow's race. Step by step I hope to improve, starting from the very next race."

RACE 2

De Rosa (pictured above) gridded 18th again, with Torres getting the 12th spot despite dropping out at the end of Race 1. Forés gridded in the pole position, followed by Savadori, Bradl, Ramos, Laverty, Mercado and finally Rea, Sykes and Melandri. Davies gridded in 10th spot at the top of Row 4. Sunday’s race at Assen was Rea’s 200th WSBK race, quite an achievement; he reached the podium in 95 of his first 199 races and won 44 of them.

Sunday turned out to be warmer than Saturday, so the majority of the riders went with soft compound tires, a decision that bit a few of them during Race 1, which saw track temps several degrees cooler the day before. No such trouble expected during Race 2, but tire management is always a concern, especially in the last third of the race.

Forés took the hole shot with Laverty right behind him. It was the first time this season seeing the two Aprilias running in second and third, with Sykes gunning through in Turn 1. The first lap is almost always a scrum, but by the time the riders were halfway through it, Sykes and Rea were running third and fourth; Torres was in 14th and de Rosa in 17th.

Laverty went round Forés to take first, but the two Kawasakis stayed close in third and fourth. Davies was in fifth, right behind Rea, followed by Savadori, Melandri and American Nicky Hayden. Rea took over third from his teammate and started putting pressure on Forés, who was himself right behind Laverty. Rea overtook Forés before the end of Lap 2, which opened the window for Sykes to do the same, pushing Forés back to fourth. Rea quickly passed Laverty, and as Lap 3 started, Rea got on to building his customary gap ahead of everybody else.

Davies jumped up to fourth, pushing Forés further back. Laverty had his work cut out for him to stay ahead of Davies and his charging Ducati in Lap 5. De Rosa dropped to 18th. In Lap 6, Davies pushed passed Laverty and found himself facing a wide gap behind second place rider, Sykes. Rea held a comfortable (but not insurmountable) gap ahead of Sykes.

Van der Mark, possibly trying to redeem himself for the early crash in Race 1, gave his home country fans a lot to cheer over in Lap 8, passing Forés and Laverty to take over fourth place. Marco Melandri crashed out in Turn 5 of Lap 9. His bike wobbled briefly before a low side ended his day. It would be the first time this season he finished a race with no points.

Torres moved up to 12th and de Rosa to 16th. Van der Mark continued running faster laps than Davies, but Davies remained stubbornly ahead of him as they fought for third place. Van der Mark had a massive wobble in Lap 11, but kept his cool and recovered from the giant tank slapper. Not long after that, Torres passed Ramos to take up 11th position, subsequently passing Forés to get into 10th. Forés continued dropping back in Lap 12. Savadori crashed out in that lap, a disappointing finish to his first weekend back in WSBK after his neck injury.

Torres put immense pressure on Hayden, trying to take over eighth place from the American, but he looked as if he was constantly fighting to keep the front wheel of the S 1000 RR on the ground. He made a comment to reporters at the beginning of the day about feeling like he had to fight the bike more than the other riders; the numerous wheelies throughout the race would seem to bear that statement out.

With five laps left in the race, Rea found himself fending off his teammate Sykes, but both riders held a comfortable lead over third-place Davies. Lap times between the two Kawasaki riders varied from a tenth of a second to a hundredth of a second, making it clear that neither rider was willing to back off. This sensibility no doubt helped create the 3.7-second lead over Davies.

Going into the second-to-last lap, Rea maintained the lead but was closely followed by Sykes. Davies held third, van der Mark fourth, and Torres moved up to 8th. De Rosa was in 17th, ahead of just one rider. Sykes made an attempt to capture the lead coming out of the final turn of the race, but he didn’t quite have enough time to do it; Rea won his 7th race of this year’s championship. Torres took seventh place away from Laverty, and de Rosa finished in 17th place - out of the points.

Commenting on Race 2, Torres said, "I struggled at the start with the fresh tire, but after four or five laps I started to gain in confidence, managing to pass several riders and make a fairly good recovery. With quite strong pace right until the end, I was also able to edge past Laverty just before the line to finish seventh. Not bad, but I hope to be able to do more at Imola, the first of the team's 'home' tracks."

De Rosa spoke to his disappointing finish, saying, "I tried to start strong and push right away and I was feeling quite good with my BMW until about half way through the race. Once the wind picked up though, I had some difficulty managing the bike and I was just trying to get to the finish line. I'm not pleased with the result of course but we know we have the potential to do better."

Wrapping up the weekend's action, Torres said, "On Saturday, we really had bad luck. We could have finished fifth or sixth if we hadn’t had the flat rear tire. It is always disappointing for the entire team when something like that happens. Sunday’s race was a lot better. We didn’t have the best grid position but we tried to give our best during the race. With the fuel tank getting emptier - and with less grip on the tires - we were able to go a good pace and I overtook a lot of riders."

STANDINGS

With the fourth round of WSBK over, Jonathan Rea remains authoritatively in first place in the standings, holding 195 points and a 64-point lead over second-place Thomas Sykes. Despite not finishing Race 1, Chaz Davies rose one slot in the standings; his 111 points put him in third over Marco Melandri’s 97 points. Alex Lowes rounds out the top five with 76 points. Jordi Torres is in eighth place with 57 points. Even though he’s unlikely to return before the end of the season, Torres’ Althea teammate Markus Reiterberger holds on to 17th place with 19 points.

In the team standings, it’s no surprise that the Kawasaki Racing Team holds first place with 326 points. Davies’ team, Aruba.it Racing, is in second with 208, followed by Pata Yamaha with 138 and Althea BMW with 79. The manufacturer’s standings play out in the same order, with Kawasaki at the top with 195 points, Ducati with 153, Yamaha with 87 and BMW with 63. Honda languishes in last place in the manufacturer’s standings with just 50 points, behind April (55) and MV Agusta (54).

The next round of World SBK action takes place 12-14 May at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, outside Bologna, Italy.

Tags:  Althea  Assen  De Rosa  Netherlands  S1000RR  Torres  WSBK 

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Reiterberger out at Althea, replaced by Raffaele de Rosa in time for Assen

Posted By Wes Fleming, Thursday, April 27, 2017

Earlier this month, Althea BMW Racing Team announced the early exit of rider Markus Reiterberger from the World Superbike Championship. He will be replaced on the team by Italian Rafaela de Rosa, who will run in this weekend's races at Assen in the Netherlands. De Rosa won last year's Stock1000 title as a member of the Althea Racing team.


Raffaele de Rosa. Photo from his website.

Reiterberger took himself out of the running, saying he hasn't yet fully recovered from a crash last year. In that crash at Misano he fractured his T10 and T12 vertebrae. (see map of spine)

Reiterberger had this to say: "After serious consideration, I have decided to step away from participating in WorldSBK. We made a strong start last season but then couldn't keep up the good results. I have therefore opted to refocus on making a complete recovery and on my racing career. I am very thankful for the experience in WorldSBK with Althea BMW Racing Team and I am now very much looking forward to new challenges. I feel the need to thank my sponsors for having allowed me to take part in the world championship, BMW Motorrad for their trust and passion, and my appreciation also goes out to the whole Althea BMW Racing Team crew for their work. I was very much encouraged by the positive reception from my friends, family and fans – I am very thankful for that. It was always my dream to participate in WorldSBK and with the experience I’ve gained, I will work very hard to return to the championship."


Markus Reiterberger (GER), #21

Althea BMW Racing General Manager Genesio Bevilacqua said, "I am of course very sad to have to make this announcement, as I consider Markus to be a strong athlete and a considerable talent, who could have been a good match for the Superbike category. Unfortunately, the accident he suffered at Misano complicated things, as he was unable to fully regain that confidence that he had shown during the earlier part of the 2016 season. I think that this decision leaves us all sad, me personally, the entire Althea team and BMW too, but I believe it’s normal that he wants to find that peace of mind. Markus is still only 23 and so has all the time he needs to recover and bounce back. I can only thank him for the commitment he showed throughout his stay with the Althea team, and we all wish him lots of luck, in the hope that we soon see him back, stronger than ever and whatever the bike. He can no doubt still find the physical conditions he needs to shape his future."

TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands is the fourth round of this year's WorldSBK Championship, and it has hosted motorcycle races for nearly 100 years. The 2.8-mile track features six left and 11 right turns, including a couple of serious hairpin curves.

Althea BMW rider Jordi Torres (#81) finished in fifth place in last year's round at Assen. "I always enjoy racing at Assen," Torres said. "Last year I was able to achieve a solid fifth place finish in race 2 and this year I hope to do even better. The only unknown is the weather, as from the forecast it looks like it will be cold. The tests at Aragon went well and were useful, which leaves me feeling confident not just for Assen but for the rest of the championship."


Jordi Torres (ESP), #81

De Rosa added, "I'm really pleased to finally start my season. Originally the idea was to only do a few wildcard entries but now that I have the chance to race for the rest of the season I'm feeling extremely motivated. Last year I won my first Stock race at Assen. We need to look out for the weather, which is always unstable in Holland but my aim is to stay focused and do my best. I can’t wait to get started.

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