2012 World SBK BMW Season Preview

February 23, 2012
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

BMW Motorrads Leon Haslam broke his right tibia during the opening session of the official Phillip Island test  with his participation in the season opener now in doubt.
Marco Melandri gets better acquainted with the BMW S1000RR during the official pre-season test at Phillip Island.
Leon Haslam (91) and Marco Melandri (33) lead the S1000RR charge in 2012 for BMW Motorrad Motorsport.


The BMW S1000RR has yet to find consistent success in its World SBK program. In fact, a seat on the Beemer has proven a fairly reliable ticket out of the series. As mentioned in the introduction, both Troy Corser and James Toseland (each one a two-time SBK champ), left professional racing after forgettable final runs on the BMW in 2011. And remember Ruben Xaus? The crash-happy Spaniard may have got a final go aboard the Castrol Honda last year, but his two-year tenure on the factory BMW squad was littered with DNFs and lackluster results. Leon Haslam managed a promising trio of podiums for the Germans in 2011, his first campaign with BMW. The British rider returns, along with long-time MotoGP contender and 2011 SBK runner up Marco Melandri. The BMW camp is second only to Ducati in quantity of riders on the grid, with a strong satellite effort in the BMW Italia team, as well as a lone rider from Italian-based Grillini Racing.

BMW Motorrad Motorsport

The official factory BMW squad supports Haslam and Melandri, who finished a respective fifth and second in the 2011 championship. On paper it’s a strong pairing, but in practice each man will have to find race-winning performance from the S1000RR to be legit contenders. Haslam’s trio of third-place podiums and fifth place overall mark BMW’s best success to date, but 2011 was a regression for Haslam’s SBK title hopes – the British rider having placed runner up in the 2010 series aboard the Alstare Suzuki. Haslam begins 2012 behind the injury eight ball, with a tibia fracture, along with other cracks in his leg and feet, sustained during a preseason crash at Phillip Island.

As for Melandri, his rookie SBK campaign couldn’t match Checa’s dominance, but it was certainly an impressive debut and good enough to best his face-slapping GP rival, Biaggi, for second in the championship. However, the 2011 byline of four wins and 15 podiums all came with Yamaha. There’s plenty of talent for a title run, but Supermarco will have to sort out the Beemer first.

Ayrton Badovini - BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet SBKMichel Fabrizio - BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet SBK
Ayrton Badovini and teammate Michel Fabrizio lead the charge for
BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet.

BMW Motorrad Italia Goldbet

At times the satellite BMW Italia squad outshined its struggling factory-backed cohorts in 2011. While James Toseland never found the pace (exited the sport owing to wrist damage from an early-season accident while testing), teammate Ayrton Badovini was a regular in the top-10 and occasionally the top-placed BMW come race day. The 2010 STK champion returns alongside new teammate and fellow Italian Michel Fabrizio, the latter making his debut season with BMW after spending 2011 as the lone Suzuki on the grid.

BMW Highlights
  • Top Rider – Leon Haslam or Marco Melandri?
  • Top Team – BMW Motorrad Motorsport
  • Dark Horse – Ayrton Badovini

2012 BMW SBK Roster:
#18 Mark Aitchison – Grillini Progea Superbike Team
#33 Marco Melandri – BMW Motorrad Motorsport
#84 Michel Fabrizio – BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet
#86 Ayrton Badovini – BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet
#91 Leon Haslam – BMW Motorrad Motorsport

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