BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team kicks off the 2020 WorldSBK season with a record pole at Phillip Island.

Phillip Island. The 2020 FIM World Superbike Championship
(WorldSBK) started with a bang by the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. In
Saturday’s Superpole qualifying of the season opener at Phillip
Island (AUS), Tom Sykes (GBR) rode his BMW S 1000 RR to a record
pole position. Sykes was then leading half of the distance of race
one, before dropping positions and finishing ninth. His new
team-mate Eugene Laverty (IRL) was 13th in Superpole and 11th in the race.


It was a dream start to the season for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK
Team. In Superpole, Sykes was the first rider to go out on the
qualifying tyre and rode to a stunning new all-time lap record by
setting a time of 1:29,230 minutes. In the remaining minutes, no one
was able to beat that and so Sykes, who is the WorldSBK pole record
holder, celebrated his 50th pole position in the series. Laverty
qualified for 13th place on the grid.


Race one of the new season also began perfectly for Sykes on his RR.
After a few position changes on the opening corners, the Englishman
regained the lead and maintained P1 until the 12th of 22 laps. In the
second half of the race, Sykes unfortunately fought with blunt weapons
and so had to settle with ninth at the chequered flag. Laverty dropped
some positions at the start but then showed great fighting spirit to
battle his way back towards the top ten, crossing the line in 11th.


Quotes after race one on Phillip Island.


Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “We
had a very nice starting position today to kick off the season.
Starting from the front row with this view here in Phillip Island is
just fantastic. Tom Sykes’ pole position is a great achievement that
we deserved. Throughout the week we showed, also in the test, that we
can be in the mix. It was of course also great to lead the first 11
laps of the race. Handling of the bike looks very good. Then
unfortunately Tom got a tyre issue and as a result the performance
dropped sharply. So we have to look at our tyre selection again. Many
competitors were on a different tire compound. Eugene Laverty’s
performance in qualifying was unfortunately not so strong, which
resulted in a relatively poor starting position. On the other hand, he
had good pace in the race and was sometimes as fast as the top riders.
He fought with Davies and Rinaldi for a long time, was then overtaken
again and again on the straight because we still lack engine power
here. But Eugene was basically satisfied with the chassis and I think
there is a lot of potential. We will attack again tomorrow.”


Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK
“Firstly we are pleased on getting pole position in
Superpole with Tom, this gave him a real good chance of a result in
race one. Eugene however didn’t make the best use of his qualifying
tyre, but he will learn from that and come back stronger. The race
obviously was a little disappointing given the great start for Tom who
was riding with a lot of confidence and lead for a large proportion of
the race. We made a tyre choice which in hindsight wasn’t what most
went with, it was the ‘B’ type rear compound tyre which in the latter
stages lost grip and that cost many positions. Eugene had a different
situation and ran with a few difficulties during the race with engine
braking pushing him deep into corners, but he settled into the race
well and at one stage was the fastest rider on track. But having
starting down in P13 meant he got himself into Davies, Rinaldi and Tom
in the closing laps. We will take the information away, work hard over
night and hopefully come back stronger tomorrow.”


Tom Sykes: “The day started well and with all things
considered I have to say I am very happy with a number of things.
Certainly qualifying for me was really controlled and I felt really
comfortable. The BMW S 1000 RR was working great with the Pirelli
qualifying tyre so I was able to do what I wanted and to get a circuit
record along with my 50th pole position is some achievement. In the
race, we had a good start. It was unfortunate we had a coming together
with Jonathan Rea early on, but I settled back in and got into a good
rhythm for the first half of the race. Unfortunately, my rear tyre
drastically dropped off mid race which is something we didn’t expect
and ultimately cost us in race performance, this is something we will
work on overnight and make sure we are there or there abouts for
tomorrow two races.”


Eugene Laverty: “We had a difficult start to the
race. Obviously starting from P13 meant we had some work to do in the
early stages, but I felt it went better than expected as I was worried
we didn’t have the pace to go with the group. Having said that it was
clear that some of the riders around us didn’t have such good race
pace but for us, that was something we have been working on over the
last four days which helped regarding our pace late in the race. We
will start again from P13 tomorrow which makes it tough for me, but I
will attack and try make up some positions early on.”