First row of the grid and solid race results for the BMW M 1000 RR on a hot WorldSBK Saturday at Navarra.

Navarra. The first race day of the debut FIM Superbike World
Championship (WorldSBK) event at Navarra, Spain, has come to an end.
Tom Sykes (GBR) from the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team gave a strong
performance in Saturday morning’s Superpole on his BMW M 1000 RR,
claiming third place to secure a spot on the front row of the grid.
Sykes finished the afternoon’s race in sixth position. His team-mate
Michael van der Mark (NED) crossed the line in seventh. Jonas Folger
(GER) from the Bonovo MGM Racing team was also in the points,
finishing 14th.


1:36.546 minutes was the lap time recorded by Sykes in the morning’s
Superpole qualification. That enabled him to take the lead for a brief
period before finishing the 15-minute session with third place, on the
front row of the grid secured. Van der Mark ended the hard-fought
qualifying session in tenth position. Folger qualified in 14th place.
A special surprise lay in wait for van der Mark on the grid later when
BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Marc Bongers and Shaun Muir, BMW
Motorrad WorldSBK Team Principal, presented the new father with a BMW Babyracer.


Air temperatures had already reached 24 degrees Celsius by late
morning, climbing to over 30 degrees by the time the race began. Sykes
fell back a little in the turmoil at the start but then maintained
sixth position for the duration of the 23-lap race. He was within
striking distance of the top five for some time, but the gap then grew
larger. Van der Mark was able to get into eighth before moving up to
seventh on lap seven, where he remained until reaching the finish
line. Folger dropped back after losing ground at the start, however he
moved up to 14th as the race progressed to secure a points finish.


Quotes after race one at Navarra.


Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director:
“Sixth and seventh in the race – that corresponds to where we
are at the moment. Our pace was clearly better in this morning’s
practice. The temperatures kept climbing though as the race
approached. We had already struggled with that in practice yesterday.
Tom did very well in qualifying to secure a great third place. He
established himself in sixth position relatively quickly in the race
and was able to maintain that. Michael had a relatively good
qualifying session. He finished tenth but was just a tenth of a second
away from fifth. In the race, he lost a few seconds again during the
first laps. Our aim for tomorrow should be fifth place instead of
sixth and seventh. It is important for us to deliver a strong
performance tomorrow in the Superpole race, with the aim of reaching
the top five. That is realistic for us this weekend.” 


Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team:
“I was really pleased with FP3 in the morning when Michael
set a quick pace very early so he had a good run of laps and was
confident going into Superpole. Equally Tom found a good set-up as
well and was pretty happy so we quickly confirmed the tyre choice for
the rear tyre. In Superpole, Tom as usually did a great job putting it
on the front row in the top-three. He made good use of his qualifying
tyre. We used a slightly different strategy for Michael; he ran one
exit with the ‘X’ tyre and then changed to the ‘Q’ tyre. It worked
really well and it was a much improved performance compared to Most.
Okay, tenth place was not where we wanted to be but it was an
improvement. In the race, Tom settled into a race pace which was
pretty much where he was at the end of the race. He could not gain
much advantage but settled into a good rhythm. Michael got stuck
behind a couple of riders and lost four, five seconds on the opening
few laps. Once he got by and settled into it, he could not bridge the
gap. Both riders struggled with the front in the heat. Overall, we
can’t be too dissatisfied with sixth and seventh. 20+ seconds off the
win is not where we want to be but we will try to close that gap tomorrow.”


Tom Sykes, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “It was not
too bad. We had a good qualifying and starting from the front row is
always a nice target. Coming off the start, another rider came by me
and almost took my handle bar so I had to close the gas and a Kawasaki
had gone by. So the first lap wasn’t very good and then, to be honest,
behind Alex Lowes on the first couple of laps, it was just a bit too
steady so I need to have a look at that for tomorrow. I need to try to
get a better start and first couple of laps but after that I just
settled into the rhythm that we found yesterday afternoon. It looks
like everyone was suffering a little bit more today because the times
were slower than yesterday afternoon. I really struggled with the
front end of the bike with the turning and some of the rear traction
so for sure it was a difficult race to manage. We had to change the
way to approach some corners et cetera and try to find a way to ride
around those problems so we’ve got a lot of work to do tonight and
hopefully we can improve the set-up for these hot conditions tomorrow.”


Michael van der Mark, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “To
be honest, I was expecting a lot more. This morning, we made a huge
step in performance and in lap time consistency. Also in Superpole,
we’ve made a good step. I was tenth but the gap to P5 was really
close. I was happy with that, but in the warmer conditions in the race
the bike just did not react like in the cooler conditions. It’s normal
but I struggled too much so we need to find a solution for tomorrow.”


Jonas Folger, Bonovo MGM Racing: “Our start position
in the race wasn’t bad. Unfortunately, I didn’t make a great start. I
had a wheelie and lost a few places. On the second lap, I then went
straight on in turn 1 while I was trying to overtake another rider. I
was back in 21st or 22nd then, but my lap times were nearly as fast as
the riders around tenth. Now we have to analyse what happened, as the
wheelie at the start was unusual and has not happened at all during
practice. We will carry on working and see what we can achieve from
14th on the grid tomorrow.”