Alcañiz. BMW Motorrad Motorsport gained more valuable experience for the further development of the BMW M 1000 RR at the tenth of this season’s twelve events in the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK). Garrett Gerloff (USA / Bonovo action BMW Racing Team) consistently finished in the top ten at MotorLand Aragón (ESP), a circuit that has not tended to suit the bike in the past. Scott Redding (GBR / ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) battled through the pain he was suffering following an accident at home and twice finished eleventh. His team-mate Michael van der Mark (NED) also demonstrated an upwards trend. Loris Baz (FRA / Bonovo action BMW Racing Team) finished in the points in both main races, after a fine Superpole. However, he missed out on the Superpole race due to a technical issue.
Gerloff was the best BMW rider in tenth place in Superpole qualifying on Saturday morning. Team-mate Baz slotted in next to him in eleventh place. Redding and van der Mark ended qualifying in 13th and 14th places respectively.
The opening race on Saturday afternoon saw many changes of position. Gerloff initially dropped back to 15th place at the start. However, from lap five on he set about gradually working his way through the field on the BMW M 1000 RR. He moved into eighth place on lap 14 of 18, and went on to finish in that position. Redding also struggled at the start and slipped back to 16th before finding his rhythm. In the end, he crossed the finish line eleventh. Van der Mark climbed into the top ten around the midway point of the race, but then dropped back a little and ended the race in 13th place, just ahead of Baz in 14th. The Frenchman was fortunate in the final corner, when Alvaró Bautista (ESP / Ducati) crashed and Baz was just able to take evasive action.
Gerloff was ninth in the Superpole race on Sunday morning and consequently improved his grid position for the second main race in the afternoon. Redding came home eleventh, van der Mark 14th. However, the Dutchman was subsequently promoted to 13th following a penalty awarded to another rider. Baz was unable to start on the grid, due to a technical issue. As the problem could not be solved on the grid, the decision was taken to withdraw him from the race, in order not to put others at risk.
In the second main race on Sunday afternoon, Gerloff crossed the finish line in tenth place. He had dropped well back down the field at one point, but was then able to regain positions in the second half of the race. Van der Mark rocketed into the top ten at the start and was still running there until Gerloff passed him shortly before the finish. Van der Mark ultimately crossed the line just a few tenths of a second behind Gerloff in eleventh. Baz came home 13th, ahead of Redding in 14th place.
The eleventh and penultimate round of the 2023 WorldSBK season takes place this weekend (29th September to 1st October) at Portimão (POR).
Reactions to the MotorLand Aragón round.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “After the positive results of late, particularly courtesy of Garrett at Magny-Cours, we arrived here with plenty of momentum. We were also able to confirm a number of changes to the bike. However, it was not our most lucky weekend. The initial situation was not ideal for the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. Scott arrived on Thursday with an injury which he had picked up between race weekends. Respect to him for carrying on through the pain. It did not look as though he was going to be able to continue after the first free practice session. We hope he now recovers quickly. Michael is still working on getting fit. He had an outstanding start in race two which saw him climb as high as seventh, and then had a good battle with the two Hondas. It was very pleasing to see him having fun in the race again. For the Bonovo action BMW Racing Team, the weekend began with an extremely strong FP2 from Garrett. However, we did not then make the best changes to the bike. He also struggled at the start of the race and had to battle back from towards the rear of the field multiple times. I am confident that he had the pace to finish in the top six. He was consistently in the top ten, but we were not where we should have been with him. Loris unfortunately had a technical issue and was unable to compete in the Superpole race. We were able to solve the problem for race two and he put it behind him and rode a solid race. We now move on to Portimão, a circuit that should generally suit us better than Aragón.”
Garrett Gerloff, Bonovo action BMW Racing Team (SP: 10 / R01: 8 / SP Race: 9 / R02: 10): “For sure, I feel that we had a little bit more to offer this weekend. But I have given my best and this was all we could do, unfortunately. I’m decently happy with the Superpole race. I had a good start and was able to get to sixth place but then I just struggled to stay in front but luckily we finished ninth so I moved up one position on the grid for race two. In that race I struggled so much with a lot of things on the bike right from the beginning. In the first part of the race I just went backwards. Then once everybody started losing grip I was able to maintain similar times and I made some progress but I did not feel as good as I was hoping. I did the best I could. I want more than top ten, for sure, but now I am looking forward to going to Portimão. I like that track very much, and it’s good that it is a back to back weekend so we can carry some momentum into the next round.”
Scott Redding, ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team (SP: 13 / R01: 11 / SP Race: 11 / R02: 14): “In general, the weekend was a little bit better for me with the bike than when we were here last year. This was already something. I enjoyed the Superpole race. I was able to fight a little bit for the top ten which was my target this weekend. For race two, I was feeling quite confident that I could achieve a top ten. But immediately after two laps I just did not feel the grip and I was really struggling a lot. In the long corners, I didn’t have the grip to go out of the corners. It was really difficult. It was only on the last laps when the tyre was really worn out when there was a little bit of something coming. I was quite surprised because I was feeling like I could possibly go for the top ten in this race and then it was the complete opposite so I am a little bit unhappy. We need to understand why that happened because yesterday it was a lot better. Overall we come away with the weekend a little bit more calm than in Magny-Cours and now we go on to Portimão.”
Michael van der Mark, ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team (SP: 14 / R01: 13 / SP Race: 13 / R02: 11): “This morning, we made a change to the bike and I felt comfortable with it. I was quite consistent in the warm-up. In the Superpole race, we tried the SCQ tyre because we had nothing to lose and honestly, I felt good but I just couldn’t really overtake people in front of me and I was missing some confidence to attack so I am not really happy with my Superpole race. But in race two, I had a really good start and a good pace right from the beginning. I could stay with a couple of guys and I was happy with the bike. After a couple of laps I started to struggle at the entries but the pace was still okay. Unfortunately I struggled more in the end and I got passed. But anyway, we made some good progress in race two and I start to feel better and better on the race distances so I am quite happy that.”
Loris Baz, Bonovo action BMW Racing Team (SP: 11 / R01: 14 / SP Race: DNS / R02: 13): “It was just one of those days where everything goes wrong. Saturday night we decided to change a lot on the set-up and to try it in warm up. Unfortunately we then had technical issues but the guys did a great job to get the bike ready again for race two. We then had a different set-up, and it’s not ideal when you have to try a kind of a completely different bike in the race. I think there were some positives and negatives. I had the same issue here as at Magny-Cours with my tyre dropping much earlier than others and when I was fighting for P12, I made a bit of a stupid mistake in the last turn, something I have never done in my whole life so I want to apologize to the guys for that. I just tried to close the door to Domi but then I looked at the wrong braking line for the reference and I braked 50 metres later at 300 km/h. That was not ideal. So I ended up in P13 but we were fighting for better places. Overall, there’s not much to say but thanks to the guys for their pretty impressive job today getting the bike ready again. I now hope that the feeling will be better at Portimão.”