The BMW Motorrad Motosport Team is participating in its fourth consecutive racing season in the World Superbike Championship series with the formidable S1000RR, our reigning Superbike Smackdown winner. A bike primed for racing, BMW’s first production version of the motorcycle was launched in 2010 and is one of the best-selling sportbikes to date. A second generation machine has made its way to the stage for 2012 with updates provided by the feedback of the team’s riders.
Having moderate success with Ruben Xaus and Troy Corser during the early stages of the program, the BMW squad still hadn’t achieved its first win coming into the 2012 season. This would soon change when former MotoGP racer Marco Melandri recorded the team’s first win at England’s Donington Park with teammate Leon Haslam trailing in second.
Melandri proved the race win was not a fluke when he scored another victory in Race 2 at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah this past weekend. Now the Italian sits second in championship points, tied with Tom Sykes, and just 28 down from Aprilia’s Max Biaggi.
This year, Leon Haslam returned to the BMW team, and with a best finish of second in 2012, the Englishman has his sights on one goal: winning. Motorcycle-USA sat down with the two speedsters this past Memorial Day weekend to ask them a few questions.
THOUGHTS ON AMERICA:
Leon Haslam: Well, for me, you know I love coming to America. I love coming out here to visit many areas of America, I always go from here to Vegas for my birthday so that’s always a special tradition.
Marco Melandri: For me, I have always been a motocross fan, it’s always good to see Supercross. I like American because the places are very open and the people are the same, very open and friendly. I been riding motocross many times in California at Glen Helen. It is good fun. Every race I see on TV.
THOUGHTS ON MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK:
LH: Well, I’ve had my ups and downs here. I’ve raced here three times and crashed twice so I’m not so lucky on that side of things. I have finished on the podium here. I had a second here in 2010. Last year for BMW it was one of our worst races but it wasn’t the fault of the bike. I think the bike is good this year and I will be looking forward to Monday’s race.
Race 2 podium: Marco Melandri (center) in first, Jonathan Rea (left) in second and Max Biaggi (right) in third.
MM: For here I am confident, but for me the second time I am here. Last year was a strange race because the weather condition was difficult. For me, it was a difficult race too and one of the worst of the season but I think this year it is a different story so it’s going to be for sure, not easy, but I’m confident. I think the layout is good for my riding style and the weather looks like it is going to be better so I’m happy.
SEASON SO FAR:
LH: Definitely, I’m a lot happier with the bike and with the team. It’s kind of been sort of an unlucky start for me. The first race I broke my leg, second round we got two podiums which was good, next round I crashed with a ten second lead then chose a wrong tire in Race 2. Monza was one race that we got a podium again. First race in Donington was awesome, second race I was taken out of the lead. The potential is massive you know, two times we should have won and a few little mistakes and injury and whatever we’re still not too far off the championship.
MM: It’s been good so far but it’s been very difficult. Sometimes we have bad luck, the weather condition didn’t help us a lot but I think the bike level has been better race by race. We got a win and it was awesome and now we are looking to be consistent on the podium and try to get more wins. The first win was huge because it was first time for BMW so it was very exciting. Now we know we can do it so I think we will get more confident and our rivals know we can win so I think the situation looks good.
PLANS FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON:
LH: For me at every race just try and get the most out of the bike and if that mean we can win then that’s why we are here. We don’t race to get second, we race to win and you know every weekend I am happy to get the most out of what I’ve got at the minute. When we’re doing that then we’re challenging for race wins. This is why I’m a lot more happy this year.
MM: I just want to have fun every race and do my best. When I give 100% I am happy with myself but for sure we just go race by race and not just think about the championship because we still have many races ahead of us and we don’t have to make calculations.
THE BMW S1000RR:
LH: For me the RR is the best road bike out there. It wins every national championship and all the Superstock classes and it’s actually the closest thing to a full blown race bike, the road bike. The good thing with BMW is riding, for the factory when we need a modification of the frame or something that we cannot do because of the rules they can easily turn around a new homologation for the year after and homologate a new bike just to help us to make it better. So the guys that ride these on the road want this as well because they want the latest bike and ride the bike that we are racing. It’s just a great thing to be a part of BMW.
MM: Like Leon said, we are a big group and we are working together with the production bike to grow the bike and now we are following a very intense program to develop the bike in every way – electronic, engine, chassis. Sometimes we are limited by the rules to modify right now but everyone wants to make the bike better and better. I think our level is already pretty good, much better than last year but we still want more.
Sykes took first followed by Leon Haslam (left) in second and Eugene Laverty in third. – Monza, Italy.
LH: Not so much on the race weekend. There are things set up for our feeling and what we need, but as far as development, of course. The good thing is that we have the same comment on what we need and it’s good to sit down after a race weekend and just think about what problems we had and how we can improve it. When we both have the same problem and the same kind of idea how to improve it then it’s a good sign we are headed in the right direction.
WORLD SUPERBIKE SERIES ORGANIZATION:
LH: I love World Superbike. There are seven manufacturers out there and every weekend we have all those guys challenging for race wins. You know, the championship is good the racing is fantastic and as long as we keep that then that’s the main thing.
MM: I don’t know, I’m just a rider. No, it’s okay, it’s nice because it’s a very easy atmosphere. For sure, we have to be careful to not overtake the limit in terms of rider contact because it is very dangerous but I like to do two races in a day and Superpole, so the formula is fun.
FUTURE RACING PLANS:
LH: This is my 15th year in racing and all I have ever wanted to do is race and for me I’ll race as long as I can.
MM: I don’t know, maybe the world is going to end, it’s going to be finished at the end of the year. You know, I don’t know, I want to live day by day. If I can have fun and still be competitive then for sure I want to race. Right now I am happy and when I started racing I was 15 and my plan was to be a pro rider for 15 years and now I hope to have 15 more.
YOUR OPINION OF THE CRT CLASS IN MOTOGP:
LH: Yeah, for me I grew up old school with my dad racing and GP was like a prototype bike and was the best bike you could possibly see or watch and to go to CRT for me is really just like a modified superbike. It’s two totally different
The BMW team is coming on strong in World Superbike and is starting to collect race wins and podiums.
championships right now. If they make it all this way, fine, as long everyone is on the same bike. It’s just two different championships right now and for me I would like to see GP as special prototype bikes.
MM: I think the economic situation is difficult and it is always good to put more bikes on the grid but I hope the future sees just one kind of bike. With the CRT bike it is not easy for everyone to follow and understand.
MM: I hope the American people come to the racetrack and have fun to see the race and just push for us.