The efforts, energy and resources that have been piled into the BMW WorldSBK project are paying off – it is only testing but perhaps it’s a good indicator of what’s to come
As the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s curtain starts to lift up off the ground, the stage is set for an almighty battle. BMW are keen to be part of that and with new signing Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) seemingly straight on the pace, teammate Michael van der Mark is in contention too.
‘EL TURCO’ responds to BMW critics: “Everyone speaks about it, says it’s not good but it is”
Day one at Portimao was prosperous for both; Razgatlioglu, who had a couple of days to recover from burning and aching on his backside after a seat position didn’t work out at Jerez, was straight on the pace and didn’t leave the top three pretty much all day. The #54 stated that he was 95% happy with the braking of his M 1000 RR ahead of the test and instead, was searching for an improvement in rear grip, one of the long-lasting complaints of the bike since it was introduced in 2021. Having tested a swingarm at Jerez and not being convinced on it, this test serves as one for purely reconfirming – or disregarding – items, ideas and theories.
Speaking about what he tested, the agenda of the day and what’s to come on day two, Razgatlioglu said: “I can’t say what we tried but the feeling is that the first bike is much better. We’ll just use that and then tomorrow, we’ll try some different setups as well as shocks and suspensions. I like to go to Jerez and Portimao, here is my favourite circuit and I’m riding very well. Every day, we have improved the bike and it’s not bad. Everyone speaks about it, saying it’s not good but it is good. It’s not 100% but we’re still improving and we’re coming. We aren’t far away. If the bike didn’t have potential, I wouldn’t have made the lap time of a 1’40.0. I feel the potential and I’m happy for this, we just need to keep working.”
“I wasn’t happy with it at Jerez but here, I’m a lot happier” – van der Mark on new swingarm
On the other side of the box, Michael van der Mark likewise had plenty to keep him busy. The new swingarm was one of the main items for the 2014 WorldSSP Champion to be working on. Having already echoed the sentiments of BMW’s big bosses in saying that it isn’t one singular thing that improves the bike but instead a collection of parts, van der Mark finished P7 on day one and was right in the top four places for most of the day, with others working on long runs before firing in softer rubber at the end.
Summarising day one, the #60 stated: “We had a good day and our programme was to just to confirm the parts we tried at Jerez. We had two different bikes and did longer runs to do a full comparison. It was quite interesting; this is a different track and the feedback from the parts was different to Jerez, so there’s a lot to think about. We tried a new swingarm; I had it in Jerez as well but this is a different track so we back-to-backed it here. I wasn’t happy with it at Jerez but here, I’m a lot happier with it. If it’s working here, we can play with the setup and make it work.”
2024 IS HERE: WorldSBK’s new era is unmissable; enjoy it all, wherever you are, with the WorldSBK VideoPass!