Testing and qualifying progress shown by the all-new WorldSBK BMW S1000RR and lead rider Tom Sykes has been amazing at times, especially as the bike is around 10mph slower down the straights than most of its main rivals and 16mph behind the Panigale V4.
That was a factor in why Sykes finished an encouraging seventh in race one, but then entanglements and other riders saw him then 11th then 13th.
Sunday was not the relatively sunlit uplands of Saturday, it seems. “It has been a challenging day but I have to say that our results do not reflect where we really are,” said Sykes. “It is just unfortunate that at the moment the bike still has some limitations in straight line performance but it’s still very early days. On the positive side we have a very good chassis setup.”
Engine oomph, or lack of it, caught up with Sykes at a circuit with such a long straight. “During the race we were able to make some good passes but then lost it again on the easy part of the track. We have shown we are capable of running in the top five during all tests and practices and when we are riding alone, so we know which area we have to work on the bike. We have some race mileage under our belt and I know that now the entire team will work hard to keep progressing like we did in the winter.”
The leader of the BMW WorldSBK racing project, Marc Bongers, agreed with Sykes on why the pace cannot be maintained yet.
“We have to be satisfied with the first race weekend,” said Bongers. “We could, however, also see in the Superpole Race and in race two that we still can’t recall our true pace. We still lose on the straight, but at other points of the track we are then directly behind the competition again. If we were alone on the track, we would set top 6 or top 8 times.
“But if we are in the race in the crowd, we can’t reproduce these because we are stuck. So the positive thing is that our theoretical pace is already very good. Now we will do everything we can to improve in our deficits on the straight line. But this first race weekend makes me confident for the course of the season.”