BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team going in the right direction.

BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team going in the right direction.

Round 7 Circuito de Navarra, Navarra, Spain.

Tom Sykes (GBR) from the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team gave a strong performance in Saturday morning’s Superpole on his BMW M 1000 RR, claiming third place to secure a spot on the front row of the grid.

Sykes finished the afternoon’s race in sixth position. His team-mate Michael van der Mark (NED) crossed the line in seventh. Jonas Folger (GER) from the Bonovo MGM Racing team was also in the points, finishing 14th.

The lap time of 1:36.546 minutes recorded by Sykes in the morning’s Superpole qualification enabled him to take the lead for a brief period before finishing the 15-minute session with third place, on the front row of the grid secured. Van der Mark ended the hard-fought qualifying session in tenth position. Folger qualified in 14th place.

A special surprise lay in wait for van der Mark on the grid later when BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Marc Bongers and Shaun Muir, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team Principal, presented the new father with a BMW Babyracer.

Air temperatures had already reached 24 degrees Celsius by late morning, climbing to over 30 degrees by the time the race began. Sykes fell back a little in the turmoil at the start but then maintained sixth position for the duration of the 23-lap race. He was within striking distance of the top five for some time, but the gap then grew larger. Van der Mark was able to get into eighth before moving up to seventh on lap seven, where he remained until reaching the finish line. Folger dropped back after losing ground at the start, however he moved up to 14th as the race progressed to secure a points finish.

Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director said… 

“Sixth and seventh in the race – that corresponds to where we are at the moment. Our pace was clearly better in this morning’s practice. The temperatures kept climbing though as the race approached. We had already struggled with that in practice yesterday. Tom did very well in qualifying to secure a great third place. He established himself in sixth position relatively quickly in the race and was able to maintain that. Michael had a relatively good qualifying session. He finished tenth but was just a tenth of a second away from fifth. In the race, he lost a few seconds again during the first laps. Our aim for tomorrow should be fifth place instead of sixth and seventh. It is important for us to deliver a strong performance tomorrow in the Superpole race, with the aim of reaching the top five. That is realistic for us this weekend.”

BMW Motorrad Motorsport rounded off the race weekend at Navarra by meeting the objective of a top five result for the BMW M 1000 RR.

Tom Sykes (GBR) from the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team claimed fifth spot in race two on Sunday afternoon. His team-mate Michael van der Mark (NED) was classified in ninth. Jonas Folger (GER) from the Bonovo MGM Racing team finished twelfth, his second-best race result of the season.

Sykes started the Superpole race in the morning from third place. He fell back a little at the start, taking the chequered flag in sixth after ten laps. Van der Mark improved from tenth on the grid to ninth and moved up to seventh for a while, before losing a place and crossing the line in eighth position. Folger slipped back several places after starting from 14th but was able to regain ground with some overtaking manoeuvres as the sprint race progressed and finished 16th.

Sunday saw a repeat of the previous day’s high temperatures and the start of race two was delayed by ten minutes after a rider experienced some issues on the grid. The lights went out at 14:10. After a hard-fought first lap, Sykes and van der Mark had moved up from sixth and eighth into fourth and fifth positions. However, Andrea Locatelli (ITA, Yamaha) was able to pass van der Mark on lap three and overtook Sykes one lap later. That put Sykes in fifth place, and he maintained that top five position to the finish line after 22 laps. Van der Mark was seventh for a large part of the race, but lost a place in the closing stages and took the chequered flag in eighth position. After the race, van der Mark was demoted by one place for exceeding track limits on the final lap. Folger started the race from 14th on the grid. After the start, he fell back briefly to 16th place but then worked his way back up through the field, crossing the line in twelfth.

Quotes after race two at Navarra…

“That was not an easy weekend for us, but we did manage to finish all three races with Tom and Michael in the points. Jonas also scored points in both main races. We didn’t do as well as expected in the Superpole race this morning in the cooler conditions, however we did manage to claim sixth and eighth on the grid. That was certainly an improvement compared to the most recent races for Michael. It then paid off in the second race. After both made a good start, we were in fourth and fifth positions. Tom then fell back to fifth place but did some great defending against Alex Lowes. Michael certainly had more of a battle on his hands but compared to yesterday we closed the gap to the leaders by seven seconds. That’s still not enough but it’s going in the right direction. In the heat today, they both chose a different front tyre to yesterday, which will have made the biggest difference – and now we have to learn from that for the next high-temperature events coming up in Spain and Portugal.”

Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director

“It was a good step of improvement from yesterday. Tom rode very well today; he dug really deep and withstood a lot of pressure from Alex in the feature race and improved his overall race finish by six or seven seconds from yesterday. Tom will be pleased with his performance; we certainly are. A big shout out for him for that one. Michael just kind of never got comfortable with the bike on the bumpy circuit with a lot of front end chatter problems. He did well in his Superpole Race to move up a row so that was good for his start. I think he could have matched the pace of Alex and Tom in front of him but he just had a couple of moments and it prevented him from keeping that fifth, sixth, seventh position. Overall, it was not bad, improvement from yesterday, we still have some work to do but we can’t be too disappointed, so we can go away pretty happy.”

Said Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

“It was not a bad weekend. With the high track temperatures, it was definitely a challenging weekend. For the engines and for the riders, this kind of temperatures got to the limit in the afternoon race. Overall we have been trying to improve the set-up of the bike, certainly since as well the hot test in Catalunya, but still we had some limitations. We had some big problems in the race and we tried two different solutions from the tyre but I had some limitations in some different aspects to be fair. Even in race two I had some issues with turning and understeer, also rear traction. I just worked hard to try to managing the bike on brake pressure, in throttle openings and tried to make the best race I could. I had a lot of pressure throughout the race but we were able to deal with this. The best was lap one. We struggled to get a run on anyone this weekend but there was a bit of confusion between Alex Lowes and Andrea Locatelli and going into the turn at the end of the back straight that was a good opportunity for me so I took that and that gave me a good track position for the rest of the race.”

Tom Sykes, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

“It was a tough Sunday. In this morning’s Superpole race I struggled quite a lot with the front end of the bike. I just couldn’t attack anyone or stay with anyone so I was a bit disappointed but anyway, I gained a few starting positions for race two. I then had a good start but I immediately felt that I was losing at the exits compared to the others so I tried to push more on the front but I didn’t feel good and it was quite a long and tough race. We need to improve that but at least we got some points, we always keep trying and I am looking forward to Magny-Cours now.”

Michael van der Mark, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

“The Superpole race was pretty good, even if the start didn’t work out, which was the case for all three races. We had problems with the clutch at the start all through the weekend, and we need to work on that now. My pace was good in the second half of the Superpole race. The weather was also a bit cooler, which generally suits us. After a difficult start to race two, the pace was also OK. I am not entirely happy with the weekend but we did score some points. Of course, some other riders took a tumble and that helped us but I made it through OK and we achieved our objective of scoring points.”

Jonas Folger, Bonovo MGM Racing

Credits | Text and images courtesy of BMW AG, Munich (Germany).