Troy Corser chats to MotoOnline.com.au about his role with BMW in 2009, as well his his thoughts on the new Superpole.
Double Superbike World Champion Troy Corser has a new challenge for 2009, taking on the job of developing BMW’s all-new S 1000 RR Superbike contender alongside Spaniard Ruben Xaus.
The team made its debut at Phillip Island’s opening round at the start of this month, with Corser qualifying in 17th position following the new Superpole. He made a top start in the first race to finish eighth, with the fastest lap of the race, until tyre troubles plagued him in the second.
MotoOnline.com.au catches up with the rider from Wollongong, NSW, to speak about BMW, and also his opinion on the new Superpole format.
How’s the development with the BMW S 1000 RR going so far?
To be honest the riders that BMW had riding the bike before I actually had the chance to ride it, or Ruben [Xaus] for that matter, including Jeremy McWilliams, Steve Martin, and Kev Curtain, were basically various style riders of all different calibres.
BMW got their general opinion on the bike and what they thought were strong or weak points, and to be honest with all of those guys’ input they actually built a pretty good base level for Ruben and I to start with.
They ironed out all of the mechanical and electronic gremlins – we’ve had zero electronic problems with the bike. Obviously with a new bike you’re always going to have them, but they did it the right way in getting test riders to iron out those problems.
It was better not having the race riders out there getting frustrated because of small problems, so of course they did that, and with the way that they handled it all from the beginning I was very happy to be one of the first race riders for them.
We have changed the bike quite a bit from where we first started, but the base level of the bike is still similar to where we began. BMW is happy to be working with me, so I’m very happy to be working with them.
Were you happy with the performance at Phillip Island? Was it where you expected to be?
Yeah, it was. I didn’t expect to go down and win the race, which would have been fantastic if we did, but if qualifying would have went different then who knows what could’ve happened.
I expected us to be a little bit behind there because we had no previous information from real races, and to be honest we were a lot of days behind everybody else with their equipment and teams.
We did a fantastic job, though. The team was a little bit nervous considering it was BMW’s first race in SBK, but it’s fantastic working with Tom Larsen, who’s my chief engineer and is from Australia. Him and I communicate very well about the bike, and he communicates very well with the team. I think this has made a huge difference.
It just makes it easy for me. I can come into the pits and speak exactly how I talk, not trying to speak half Italian, or German, so that they can understand me. I just tell Tom exactly what I’m thinking and he goes away to make sure that the team knows exactly what I meant. It’s made a huge difference in the results.
To get the fastest lap of the race and to finish eighth from row five was great – I would’ve been happy to do that on the Yamaha in years past. Any rider would be pretty happy to get a top eight finish after coming off the fifth row. As equal as the times are, it shows how competitive the season is this year.
Unfortunately in the second race the tyre just went off after two laps, so all as I could do was ride around and do some slides to put on a good show, and give BMW some good photos.
We got a huge amount of press down there because of the result, and because of the second race, and for them guys advertisement is what it’s all about at the moment.
Your result in regular qualifying was solid with a fifth until Superpole. What do you think of the new Superpole format?
I’m not a fan of it. Superpole was created to do one flying lap. You would go out, do a warm-up lap, and then do your Superpole lap. At the moment it just seems like we have three more 12 minute qualifying sessions, which basically gives everybody three chances of going out there to go fast, which I don’t like because I can go out there and do one fast lap better than anybody else.
There’s more expense with more tyres, there’s more chances of us crashing and wrecking the bike now, and the teams aren’t that happy either. Sponsors are missing out because now you don’t get to see one full lap of one bike with the sponsors on the side – it jumps back and forward for the last split if you’re up on the times.
Sponsors had their bikes showing for a minute and a half or whatever it is for a full lap, which is valuable for the teams because it was guaranteed airtime on television, which is what they’re all doing it for at the end of the day.
Some teams could be there all weekend and not be seen in any of the races because they aren’t up front, but at least they got their full lap of advertisement in Superpole because they were in the top 16.
It’s lost its whole excitement for me, and I think it’s confusing for spectators and for viewers watching on television. They knew what was happening before. The rider would roll out, they would see half of the warm-up lap and then it would show the full Superpole lap.
You could see if they were up or down on each split, and it was usually nail biting right until the chequered flag. I’m very disappointed that they’ve changed it to be honest.
Even with what happened at Phillip Island, the lap times in the first Superpole session weren’t that fast, but in the second session [Regis] Laconi actually set the fastest lap of the whole weekend. Yet, when he went out for the final session his lap time didn’t carry over and he had to go out there and repeat it, but because he didn’t he finished the session in eighth.
Laconi’s time that was the fastest of the entire weekend wasn’t even recorded. Maybe if they combined all three with the fastest one for all three then maybe it could be something different, but as it was, you only have to do one lap fast to make sure you get through to the next session.
Looking back to last year, what was the attraction that originally made you want to sign with BMW for SBK in 2009?
Well one of the reasons that I didn’t go with Yamaha was because they only offered me half of what they paid me the year before, because other riders are starting to put their hands in with a lot of money and trying to buy the rides from underneath you. A major thing with BMW that made me want to sign with them was because they chased me, it wasn’t me having to chase them.
So you felt more wanted at BMW?
Not wanted, but needed. I felt at Yamaha like I was used, if you want to put it a different way. They used me for what I could do and that was it, nothing else. BMW wants me and needs me to get results.
The bonus of having nice cars at the events must be a good thing too?
Well mate, it’s in their best interest for me to be pulling up in a BMW rather than pulling up in a Mercedes Benz, or a Ford, or a Toyota. For the corporate look of the whole image it’s just an extension on the whole deal. If they want my image to be as a BMW man then it’s in their best interest to do that.
I think they are looking to build up their profile and gain exposure to prove that they’re not just a touring bike company, and to prove that they actually race. I’ve got a huge following in every country, so the amount of advertising that they are going to get because of my involvement, or Ruben’s involvement, is huge already.
We are in such a new market for BMW, there’s new interest. They are here for a long time and if they don’t succeed in a year or two they’re not just going to pull out. They’re here to win the championship.
And what are your expectations for this year?
If I can score points in every race this season then I’ll be happy. Ideally I’d at least like to get a Superpole and a podium at some stage throughout the year, and I suppose if we can do that by half season then I’d be hoping to win a race by the end of the year. As for where we will finish in the championship I’m not even worried. I wasn’t worried last year and we finished second. I’ll take each race as it comes and then wherever we end up in the championship will be based on our results.
Do you believe that you can win another championship in the future for BMW?
I think so, yeah [laughs]. Absolutely.