For the first time since BMW’s project in WorldSBK began in 2019, there’ll be two consecutive years of an unchanged line-up
One more piece of the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship grid has fallen into place as Michael van der Mark has been announced as remaining with the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. The Dutchman, who has been plagued by injury in 2022, will once again be with the German manufacturer, confirmed as Scott Redding’s teammate. Since BMW launched the BMW M 1000 RR in 2021, it has been van der Mark who has took the bike to victory in the Tissot Superpole Race at Portimao, whilst finishing his first season in white in sixth place.
Joining the team from the Pata Yamaha outfit, van der Mark was straight into the top five in his first round, before being a consistent fixture inside the top eight in the next rounds. The first of three BMW podiums in 2021 came at Donington Park, when he was third in the Superpole Race, whilst there was a surprise win at Portimao in wet conditions on Sunday morning. He closed the year with a hard-fought podium against newly-crowned World Champion and ex-teammate Toprak Razgatlioglu with third in Indonesia, before 2022 got underway. However, a mountain bike accident left van der Mark with a broken leg and despite coming back for Round 2 at home at Assen, where he took an incredible eighth place in Race 2, he was injured again in FP1 at Estoril, fracturing his right femur.
Despite the limited track action in 2022, van der Mark is delighted to remain a part of the BMW family for another season: “I am very happy in the BMW Motorrad Motorsport family and pleased about the extension of our collaboration. Unfortunately, for me personally, the current season has not worked out how I had imagined so far. However, I cannot change that. It is now important to recover fully.
“I want to get back on my BMW M 1000 RR as quickly as possible. I miss everything – the team, the bike, racing. However, all that matters is what the doctors say, and I am following their recommendations. We’ll have to see exactly when I can race again. I saw at Assen just how much potential the bike has this season, and the project has made further progress since then – you could see that in the recent races, and it was confirmed by Scott’s podium last time out at Donington. I am looking forward to returning to action and doing my bit. I am sure we have a successful future together.”
Also commenting on the contract renewal, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Marc Bongers said: “We are very pleased that Michael is remaining with us. In his first season, in 2021, he adapted very well to the BMW M 1000 RR, which was initially unfamiliar to him. He confirmed this with victory at Portimão. His contribution to the development of the M RR in its first season was hugely important to our whole project. Unfortunately, Michael has been plagued by injury since the winter. However, we are confident that, when he is fit and can race again, he will soon return to his original strength on the M RR and be able to build on that.
“Even during this recovery period, Michael has remained closely involved in the BMW family. It is excellent that he will remain an integral part of the family in the future. It was important to us to complete the contract extension before the summer break, also to express our faith in him, which allows him to focus fully on his recovery. We are looking forward to his comeback and a strong 2023 season together.”
Michael van der Mark has an illustrious history in the WorldSBK paddock; making a full-time debut with Ten Kate Honda in Superstock 600 in 2011, he went on to win four races, missing out on the title by 13 points before clinching it the next season. Three podiums in WorldSSP in 2013 would be a prelude to a dominant 2014 season which saw him take the WorldSSP crown with six wins and ten podiums. He moved to WorldSBK with Ten Kate Honda in 2015 and was a podium finisher as a rookie before going on to finish fourth overall at the end of 2016. A switch to Yamaha beckoned with a consistent 2017 giving podiums when the bike improved at the end of the year, whilst in 2018, he became the first WorldSBK race winner from the Netherlands with a stunning double at Donington Park on his way to third in the Championship, missing out on the runner-up spot by 23 points. Wins came again in 2019 and 2020 before he moved to BMW, where he’s been a race winner already.