It's been a tough couple of years for BMW Motorrad in World Superbike, but the team has made steady progress with the S1000RR, and newcomer Marco Melandri scored the best finish to date with a 2nd place at Phillip Island.
The first round of the 2012 World Superbike Championship was marked by the death of 17 year-old Oscar McIntyre in one of the support races, so the grid held a few surprises, Eurotuner reported.
With the final Superpole contest cancelled, grid position was decided by earlier qualifying times. This put Tom Sykes’ Kawasaki ZX-10R on pole position with the BMW team some way back. BMW's factory rider Troy Corser had retired and was replaced by ex-GP rider Marco Melandri, who was 13th on the grid. Tough guy teammate Leon Haslam was ahead of him in 12th despite having pins put in his fractured right tibia only four days before.
In his first race on the BMW S1000RR, Melandri worked his way though the field, and by lap 18 he was second, and defended this position against Sylvain Guintoli to the finish. Behind Melandri, and despite his injuries, Haslam fought for a top ten finish until the last lap.
At the start of race two, Haslam catapulted himself to third and fought for a podium position. Melandri had a slower start, but caught Haslam by mid-race. The pair traded places until the flag; Haslam finishing 5th and Melandri 6th.
After the races, Marco Melandri said: “I’m really happy! Giving BMW its best ever result in my first race on the RR is awesome. I still can’t believe that. We didn’t quite know how we would perform in the race because we hadn’t done any long runs in pre-season testing.
“During the race I tried to keep my rhythm and not to override as I knew I’d have to look after the tires. I had to wait for the right moment to pass Tom Sykes and Sylvain Guintoli. In the final two laps Sylvain was pushing very hard again, but I kept focused and defended my position.
“Race two was very difficult. It was warmer, so I had to push harder, and it wasn’t easy. But we finished the first weekend second in the championship, and that’s better than expected. We now have one month to analyze the data and make more improvements. We will go testing in Spain and all the guys are working hard."
Leon Haslam, had similar sentiments: “Overall I’m really happy. We had a problem in race one, which I couldn’t ride around. Even though scoring points was the objective, I knew I could’ve done better. The boys worked really hard between races: They changed engines, electronics and the balance of the bike, and straight away we were able to fight for a top five position. It’s a big credit to the team and the medical staff who managed to get me out there in the first place."
Both BMW riders extended sympathy to the family of Oscar McIntyre.
Race 1 was won by Max Biaggi, with Carlos Checa taking race 2. In the riders’ championship, Melandri is 2nd with 30 points. Haslam is eighth with 15 points. In the manufacturers’ standings BMW is third with 31 points. ––Paul DucheneBack to News