The German manufacturer have scored top-seven finishes in each of the last four rounds, but Aragon is a track, in the dry, which has been challenging for BMW
The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship heads to MotorLand Aragon for Round 10 of the 2023 season and it’s a circuit that provides a different challenge to the teams and riders up and down the grid. Ahead of the Tissot Aragon Round, WorldSBK commentator Steve English looks at BMW’s recent form following Garrett Gerloff’s (Bonovo Action BMW) stunning French Round performance and asks whether BMW can continue their strong form at Aragon – a track where BMW have struggled at in recent years.
ENCOURAGEMENT FROM FRANCE: can BMW build momentum?
After his Superpole heroics at Magny-Cours, the onus will be on Gerloff to have another strong weekend aboard his BMW M1000RR. The American, who claimed the first pole position of his WorldSBK career last time out, came away with two top five finishes in France for the Bonovo squad. The performance of Gerloff in France gave BMW more encouragement but once again the biggest question mark is about maintaining momentum. Throughout the campaign, BMW have struggled to have a “lead rider” week in and week out.
Part of that comes from having four strong riders on their bikes. Gerloff, teammate Loris Baz, and ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK duo Scott Redding and Michael van der Mark are all capable of running at the sharp end and challenging for race wins. The bigger reason is the inconsistency of their package. On a regular basis you are left questioning who’ll be the top BMW rider that weekend? At the opening two rounds of the year, it was van der Mark, at Assen it was Redding, then Gerloff at Round 4 in Catalunya before Redding established himself as the top man before the mid-season break. Throughout the season, the lead BMW rider at every round has been a top ten performer but it was only at Most and Magny-Cours where we genuinely saw them a threat at the front.
PROVING A STEP FORWARD: improving on corner entry
Aragon hasn’t been an easy track for the bike in the past, but this weekend is the time to prove their progress. The bike has improved on corner entry but it’s still a physical bike when the rider tries to change direction. There are positives and negatives to the package, but they are improving. The need for improvement has been amplified over the summer since the announcement of Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) for 2024. The Turkish star is arguably the top rider in the WorldSBK paddock and now BMW has no room for excuses. They need to improve the package and give Razgatlioglu the bike he’ll demand.
OFF-TRACK GAINS: how are BMW looking for more progress?
To those ends the German manufacturer are investing more and more in their Superbike programme. A shake-up of their technical personnel and a rumoured move for Sylvain Guintoli as their test rider and Endurance racer for 2024 means that no stone is being unturned in Munich to drive the development of the bike. The rider line-up is still a talking point for next year with van der Mark almost certain to remain with the factory squad while Redding now looks likely to run at Bonovo alongside Gerloff. It’s a very strong group to put on the bike but it will come down to their ability to smooth the edges of the package to allow them to get the most from it.
ARAGON TO COME: inside the top six again?
Over the past number of years, there have been tracks where the BMW has looked to be a good bike and capable of running inside the top five. Aragon hasn’t been one of those in recent years, you need to look back to the damp 2021 for a performance like that, but after their French pole it will be worth keeping an eye on the white bikes to see if their lead rider can have a strong weekend. Three top six finishes would certainly do the trick.
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