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2023 WorldSBK season finale: BMW Motorrad Motorsport lacks the necessary racing luck in the battle for the top six.

The 2023 WorldSBK season concluded with the finale at Jerez de la Frontera. BMW Motorrad Motorsport and the two teams demonstrated that the BMW M 1000 RR had the potential for top six result in Spain as well. However, the necessary racing luck was missing to translate that into the corresponding results. The best race results were achieved by Scott Redding and Michael van der Mark from the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, both securing eighth positions.

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Jerez de la Frontera. The 2023 season in the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) concluded with the finale at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. BMW Motorrad Motorsport and the two teams demonstrated that the BMW M 1000 RR had the potential for top six result in Spain as well. However, the necessary racing luck was missing to translate that potential into the corresponding results. The best race results were achieved by Scott Redding (GBR) and Michael van der Mark (NED) from the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, both securing eighth positions. Garrett Gerloff (USA / Bonovo action BMW Racing Team) once again displayed the pace for top positions but went unrewarded this time. His teammate, Loris Baz (FRA), had a challenging final weekend as a BMW WorldSBK factory rider at Jerez de la Frontera.

 

In Superpole qualifying on Saturday morning, Redding secured eighth position, and Gerloff ninth, placing them in the third row of the grid. Van der Mark claimed 13th place, while Baz started in 18th. The first main race on Saturday afternoon proved to be challenging for both teams. After 20 laps, Baz finished in 13th place, making him the highest-placed BMW factory rider. Gerloff was part of a group battling for the top six but had a crash. He managed to rejoin the race and set fast lap times, ultimately finishing 14th and earning valuable points. Van der Mark retired after a fall, and Redding had to pit early due to a tyre issue.

 

The racing action on Sunday commenced with an eventful Superpole race. After the first lap, Redding, Gerloff, and van der Mark were in promising positions of sixth, eighth, and tenth, respectively. However, on the second lap, the race was red-flagged due to a another competitor’s technical issue. After a break, the race was restarted for eight more laps. Redding quickly moved up to sixth place, but his performance went unrewarded as he encountered a mechanical problem, forcing him to retire. Van der Mark worked his way up to finish eighth, improving his start position for the second race. Baz crossed the finish line in 14th place. Gerloff was in twelfth place after the restart but later had an accident with a competitor, causing him to retire.

 

At the start of race two, Redding quickly surged from tenth place to sixth. While he lost a few positions during the race, he eventually finished within the top eight in eighth place. Gerloff initially dropped back at the start but mounted another comeback, finishing in ninth place. Van der Mark concluded the final race of the season in twelfth place, while Baz finished in 18th.

 

Right after the Jerez de la Frontera finale, preparations for the 2024 season begin. The Bonovo action BMW Racing Team will participate in a two-day test on the Andalusian track on Tuesday and Wednesday. Gerloff and Redding will be in action, with Redding joining the team for the upcoming season.

 

Reactions to the season finale at Jerez de la Frontera.

 

Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “We would have preferred to give our Head of BMW Motorrad, Dr. Markus Schramm, who is now retiring, a nicer farewell gift. Unfortunately, the results ultimately did not match our expectations. We aimed to build on the good results from the previous races. The qualifying was extremely close, and considering the minimal time gaps, we fared relatively well with eighth and ninth positions. In the first main race, Scott and Garrett had good starts, but Scott unfortunately had a tyre that provided no grip at all, rendering him unable to continue the race. That was quite disappointing, as Scott was highly motivated going into his final race weekend with the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. We had adjusted the package for him, which boosted his confidence. Garrett was setting very competitive lap times in the first race, and a fifth-place finish was certainly within reach. Unfortunately, he slid off the track in turn two. Mickey also had a solid performance but crashed. In the Superpole race, Scott demonstrated that he was comfortable on the bike, which pleased me greatly. However, he encountered a mechanical issue with the footrest, causing him to lose the opportunity for a sixth or possibly fifth place. Garrett maintained a strong pace but, unfortunately, had a collision with Axel Bassani while overtaking, ending the race for both of them. In the second main race, Scott once again gave a strong performance. It may not have been exactly where we wanted, but I was pleased for Scott, considering the challenging times he had been through. Garrett was consistently fast. Michael had a solid conclusion to the season. Loris couldn’t finish the season as he had hoped. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to him for his two years with the Bonovo action BMW Racing Team, and we wish him all the best for the future.”

 

Garrett Gerloff, Bonovo action BMW Racing Team (SP: 9 / R01: 14 / SP Race: DNF / R02: 9): “I’m really frustrated because I imagined this weekend going a lot different and better. Sometimes you have a plan and you think you can execute it but things go in another way. I was just unfortunate. We’ve been climbing and we’ve been feeling better and better and had better and better results every weekend, and I really thought that we had something to fight for this weekend but I had a crash on my first lap on Friday and missed nearly all that session. It was just kind of a bad taste in all our mouths. Then qualifying wasn’t horrible but also not great. It was only two or three tenths to second place but I was on the third row. Then I crashed in the first race yesterday and today in the Superpole race with Axel Bassani and this is not something I am proud of. It was a difficult weekend. It is what it is. But I’m happy that we were able to accomplish something this year like pole position and some top fives. We can be happy with that but for sure we want more and we know that we were capable of more. So we will be back next year.”

 

Scott Redding, ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team (SP: 8 / R01: DNF / SP Race: DNF / R02: 8): “Finally I got a bit of a nice race in race two today, for once this weekend, because I was a little bit unlucky with a few things. I’ve made a good start, felt really good with the bike. I then made a small mistake which cost me a little bit of time but I found my rhythm again. I was just trying to pass Andrea Locatelli all the race so I stressed all of my front tyre. In the end I got the better of him so I was happy for that but we still need to improve our acceleration grip because that is my weakest point right now. But I’m happy to finish the last race of this season and for me it was not all about the race because the last time I was here, I struggled a lot. So there’s reason to be happy and I want to say thank you to all the team for a good two years. Now we look forward to the future.”

 

Michael van der Mark, ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team (SP: 13 / R01: DNF / SP Race: 8 / R02: 12): “This morning, we made a change to the set-up of the bike and I was going at quite a good pace. I was happy with it. In the Superpole race, my first start wasn’t great. I lost some positions. I gained them back really quick but then we had a red flag. At the re-start, I had a nice and a good race, finishing in P8. It was really nice to finish in the top ten so I improved on the grid for race two. I again had a good start but struggled a bit with the grip in the beginning. Then halfway through the race I struggled with the front of the bike. It was quite a long race but at the end we scored some points again which is the most important thing. We know what to work on and I’m happy to finish the last round of the year with some positive results.”

 

Loris Baz, Bonovo action BMW Racing Team (SP: 18 / R01: 13 / SP Race: 14 / R02: P18): “It has just not been as we all wanted to end the season. It has been a tough weekend, the same as the entire season. We never gave up but I had a big injury. We all kept fighting. We had so much bad luck, and this weekend again. I was struggling with the bike Friday and yesterday, so we decided to swap the bike for today. But then we had a technical issue this morning in warm-up. Then the Superpole race was good. I was feeling the best I felt all weekend. In race two again there were some problems. It was just a lack of pace all weekend. We tried until the end. I just want to say a big thank you to the guys who never gave up. They always tried everything to give me the best bike. Last year was a good year for us, this year has been tough. We had some good moments but the injury ruined all our jobs. Now I am looking forward to surgery at the end of the month to get all the material off the ankle and to get ready for whatever comes in the future.”

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