BMW committed to World Superbike “for the long haul”
BMW has insisted its commitment to the World Superbike is “for the long haul” despite its all-new M1000RR challenger failing to match the series’ main players so far this season.
After re-entering WSBK as a full factory team in 2019 with the underpowered S1000RR, BMW introduced the upgraded M1000RR bike at the start of the year, while bringing in Michael van der Mark from Yamaha to join established lead rider Tom Sykes.
After seven rounds of the 2021 season, Sykes sits seventh in the riders’ standings with a pair of podium finishes at Donington Park, two places ahead of van der Mark.
However, BMW still lags far behind Ducati, Yamaha and Kawasaki in the manufacturers’ chase, with a little over half the tally of current leader Ducati.
BMW Motorrad boss Markus Schramm says that after two seasons of struggles with the old bike, it was not realistic that the new machine would be able to beat its rivals from the off.
“I hope it is clear to everyone that we are in it for the long haul. It's not a short adventure for us,” Schramm said in an interview with Motorsport.com’s German edition conducted before BMW’s decision to replace Sykes with Scott Redding for 2022.
"We have said from the beginning that we are planning for the long term and that we don't expect to win the world championship within a year. That would be completely unrealistic.
“The project has to develop. That's why it doesn't make sense to put the team and the riders under pressure.”
Schramm added that BMW cannot derive any satisfaction from being ahead of Honda in the manufacturers’ standings, having finished behind the Japanese marque last year.
“We are focused on our work and want to achieve the best,” he said. “It doesn't matter who we beat or who is ahead of us. We want to go forward. That is the bottom line.
“Satisfaction is usually not a good advisor. You have to concentrate on yourself and not try to imitate anything.”
Sykes scored four podiums for BMW in its return season in 2019, placing eighth in that year’s standings, but the project took a backwards step during a COVID-affected 2020 campaign as Sykes slipped to 12th and BMW finished at the bottom of the manufacturers’ table.
However, Schramm says that a difficult first two years of BMW’s project provided valuable experience for the Shaun Muir Racing-run operation.
"Normally you do engine development for five years and then get on board,” said Schramm. “I was only on board for a few weeks [Schramm took his current role in May 2018] and then the decision came to get back in.
“The return was with a pure production bike, which was not designed for that. It was clear that we had to step up. We had to develop a bike that was the basis for racing.
“I'm glad that we learned a lot as a team, even if we were only competitive to a limited extent in the first two years.”
Schramm also revealed that Shaun Muir Racing, a title-winning outfit in British Superbike which also campaigned BMW machinery in WSBK in 2016, will continue to run the marque’s works outfit for the foreseeable future.
"There is a new agreement,” he said. “We are very happy with the cooperation. We will continue. It's a long-term partnership."
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