News 26 Oct 2009

WSBK: BMW finishes solid rookie campaign at Portimao round


Despite bad luck in Portimao today, Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport are more than happy with their first year in the Superbike World Championship and are already looking forward to 2010. The team always knew that this year was going to be hard, but Troy, Ruben and the whole team have performed better than many expected in their first year of World Superbike competition, taking seventeen top finishes during the season. The bad luck today, once again befell Ruben Xaus. He was behind Carlos Checa (Honda) in race two, when Checa’s engine blew up and showered the front of Ruben’s bike with oil. Ruben saw the oil, but there was no time to take avoiding action and he was highsided between turns one and two, breaking his right leg in the process. Ruben had only recently come back from injury, so today’s accident was a hard blow for him and the team, but despite that he was soon back in the garage smiling and telling the team how much the bike has improved.

Troy also had some bad luck today in race one, when a severe case of chattering forced him to pull into the pits and change the rear tyre. He later returned to the pits and changed the front tyre, but the problem persisted and he was unable to get into the points.

American Ben Spies (Yamaha) won the first race and, with previous championship leader Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) crashing out, went into race two with a healthy 15-point series lead. Second was Jonathan Rea (Honda), with Max Biaggi (Aprilia) third. Race two was won by Michel Fabrizio (Ducati), and although Haga was second, Spies took fifth place and, with it, the 2009 World Superbike Championship title.

Troy – Race 1: DNF, Race 2: 9th
I had a big problem with chattering in the first race and pitted twice to change first the rear tyre and then again to change the front. However, the problem carried on, so I just had to keep going as best I could to give some info to the engineers. We’re not actually sure if it was a problem with the tyres or something else, but no doubt the guys will look at all the data and sort it out.

I used my number two bike for the second race and it had only done a handful of laps so I wasn’t as familiar with it as my number one bike. It felt OK up until about half race distance, but then the grip went and the bike started spinning quite a bit. I couldn’t get enough forward push without it spinning and that prevented me from pushing any harder. There are some areas we need to work on, but it’s hard trying different things during a race weekend when you also have to qualify well. Some of the problems only happen after a tyre has done 12-15 laps and we don’t often do long runs in practice because we are trying to get a good bike set-up.

Today has been a bit frustrating because the bike is improving, but sometimes it improves and then we get a new problem to solve. We just need more time on the bike and more laps, but I really feel that the bike has the potential to be a contender and I am keen to work hard with the team and make that happen.

Ruben – Race 1: 8th, DNF
Just an unlucky day for me, or maybe it has been an unlucky season. Checa’s bike blew up and covered the front of my bike with oil and obviously some of it went on to the front tyre. That caused the crash, so I am happy that the crash wasn’t my fault, but I am unhappy with the result.

This season has been hard for us all, but we knew that before the start and it is thanks to all the hard work everybody has put in that we have had so many top ten finishes. Considering that this is our first season, I think we should be happy about what we have achieved so far – and there’s much more to come, I’m sure of it.

The bike has improved since the last time I rode it and that makes me eager to find out how much more I can push it. The team are fantastic and the team spirit has been superb right from the start. It’s not nice ending the season with a broken leg, but there was nothing I could do about the crash and I prefer to think about the potential of the bike and working with Troy and the rest of the team to put it on the podium.

Berti Hauser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director)
The season has been a long, hard one, but the time has gone very quickly and I am surprised that we have now come to the end. It has been a wonderful experience and one of the most exciting years of my life.

I’m sorry about the stupid crash that caused Ruben to break his leg, but these things happen in racing and it was good to see him back in our pits chatting away to the team about how the bike is right now, instead of talking about his injury.

We managed seventeen top ten finishes this year and I think you can say that is ‘mission accomplished’. We’ve had ups and downs and have not been far off the podium at times and that is a testament to the potential of the bike. We know we have to improve in some areas and I can assure you that this will happen before next season begins.

This is our ‘rookie’ year and I think the whole team can feel happy and proud about our first season. I would like to thank Troy, Ruben, all the mechanics, engineers, InFront, Pirelli, all the background staff, and all our sponsors for all their hard work and support in a great first season.

I would also like to congratulate Ben Spies and Yamaha for taking the world title this year. Spies has shown what a class act he is and his team have supported him well throughout the season and they deserve the title. Final thanks also, to all our competitors this year, for making our life difficult, but also for making us work harder and keep improving. See you all next year!