Tom Sykes (GBR) claimed another WorldSBK podium for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and the new BMW S 1000 RR. Sykes ended an exciting Saturday race at Magny-Cours (FRA) in third place, having actually led the race in the early stages. His team-mate Markus Reiterberger (GER) endured a difficult Saturday, finishing in 16th place. Magny-Cours is the venue for round eleven of the 2019 FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK).
The morning’s Superpole was delayed by half an hour due to a dirty track. Earlier rainfall meant conditions were still wet and the special qualifying tyres could not be used. Sykes was sixth fastest on his RR, earning him a spot on the second row of the grid. Reiterberger qualified 19th.
By the start of the race at 14:00, the majority of the track was dry. Starting from sixth place, Sykes soon worked his way through the field and took the lead on his RR on lap two. He fended off all the attacks from behind and held onto first place in a fiercely-competitive leading group until lap six. The battles for position continued at the front of the field, and initially saw Sykes drop back to fifth place. When Michael van der Mark (NED / Yamaha) crashed out of the lead, Sykes adopted fourth place. However, the Brit was not happy with that position and pulled off a courageous manoeuvre on the penultimate lap to overtake Frenchman Loris Baz (Yamaha) and went on to claim another podium in third place. Reiterberger came home 16th, narrowly missing out on the points by just 0.3 seconds.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “Tom’s third place is a strong result after chaotic weather conditions on Friday and Saturday morning. The practices on Friday, which took place in unsettled weather, were positive for Tom, although that was not reflected directly in the results. We were not able to take full advantage of our qualifying performance on wet tyres, as we did not select the ideal tyre type in the unsettled conditions. We had targeted the front row of the grid, but Tom at least managed to limit the damage with sixth place. Tom’s first lap was simply fantastic. By lap two we were running P1. From then on, the race was very eventful and full of changes. In all the commotion, we dropped back to fifth place. However, Tom delivered a really strong performance in the closing stages too, which allowed us to claim our next podium finish – with a little help from our rivals. That is very pleasing and confirms that our updates are performance-enhancing. Markus has been struggling with his confidence in the set-up of his RR all weekend. Unfortunately, he was also plagued by a problem with the electronics in the race which made his performances look worse.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “Tom was disappointed with superpole. We were happy with the result; Tom was focused on the front row but unfortunately we made the wrong choice in the tyre, nevertheless we were pleased with P6. Markus really struggled with the bike and felt as though he was riding on ice which reflected in his time. Unfortunately this continued into the race and he was too far back to really make an impact. Overall, race one was probably the best race of the season. Tom took the lead and battled really well, he conserved his tyre well and set a solid pace and maintained that pace to the very end. As expected, he got closer to the front guys towards the end of the race and picked off Loris Baz in the final few laps so we are extremely happy to add another podium to the season. We have gained a lot of information ahead of tomorrow and taken a great step forward in the development of the BMW S 1000 RR which is a credit to the whole of the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team.”
Tom Sykes: “It was an eventful race and an absolute pleasure. I really enjoyed riding that one. A credit to the whole team; we’ve made some changes to the bike in between Portimão and here and it’s just nice as I am able to do things a little bit better on the track. I really enjoyed that race, especially in the beginning, battling with a few guys and just feeling in a better position and being able to fight. The chassis and the tyre really stayed consistent throughout the race. Certainly we need to find a little bit in some areas but overall a podium with just the two Kawasakis in front is really promising here given that we are only ten months into the programme. I am really, really happy with our efforts and hopefully we can keep this pace for tomorrow.”
Markus Reiterberger: “Unfortunately, I had issues with the electronics in practice this morning. As a result, I was only able to complete four or five laps when the track conditions were a bit drier. However, that was still good enough for 13th place. It then poured down again in the Superpole. As I spent more time than anyone on the track in these conditions yesterday, I did hope that this might play into my hands, however, I did not feel at all comfortable on the bike. The rear wheel was like riding on soap and I was unable to get any purchase. It was very difficult to ride. 19th place on the grid is not where I want to be starting from. Unfortunately, I did not get off to a good start in the race. It was generally very difficult to ride, partly because I had electronics problems again. I really hope that we identify the issue quickly and are soon able to find something that helps me.”