Folger: “I can’t wait to get the season started”.
Barcelona. Jonas Folger is new to the BMW rider line-up in the WorldSBK in 2021. The 27-year-old Bavarian rides for BMW satellite team Bonovo MGM Racing. After many years racing in various different Grand Prix classes, he is now set for his first full WorldSBK season on the BMW M 1000 RR. In an exclusive interview, Folger discusses his new bike and the test work so far, the meaning of electronics in a World Superbike and also looks ahead to the 2021 WorldSBK season.
An interview with Jonas Folger.
Jonas Folger: P4 at the Barcelona test
Jonas, you secured P4 on the second day of the Barcelona test – you seem to feel pretty comfortable on the BMW M 1000 RR already?
“Yes, absolutely. We did not expect that, and to be honest, I had no expectations at all. We just focused on our work and went step by step through our list that we had planned after the Jerez test. BMW has helped us a lot between the test and made a major update for the electronics and this has made another huge difference.”
What did your testing programme at Barcelona entail?
“On day one, we first ran a system check as the electronics had been reprogrammed. Then we gave our okay to BMW that all works how we would like it to work and then went into fine-tuning with the new system.”
How important are the electronics on a World Superbike?
“That depends on the rider but for me personally and for most of the riders, electronics are the most important thing on a bike. This especially goes for 1000 cc bikes, those bikes racing in MotoGP and WorldSBK. With so much power, the electronics enable you to set-up the bike in a way to make it rideable. We have more than 200 bhp, and it would be very, very difficult to bring them on the asphalt without or with very little electronics. To ride very fast and precise – it is not only about one lap but also about being fast with the bike on used tyres over a race distance – electronics are essential.”
With what areas are you already happy after the Barcelona test?
“I am very happy with the engine characteristics. At the Jerez test, we had started with the standard setting that Tom Sykes always used to ride. He has an extreme riding style and therefore, the bike was pretty difficult for me to ride. This was the biggest point we made changes to. The rideability of the engine – BMW realised that in a great way between the tests at Jerez and Barcelona.”
How close is the collaboration with the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team?
“We are working very closely with the technicians and engineers from BMW. There is also a constant data exchange between the factory team and us so that we always have all data available straight away, me as the rider, the chief mechanic as well as the data recording engineer. This is very important in order to get as much data as possible from all riders and all sides to quickly find the best possible solution.”
Primarily, I was very surprised from the power of the BMW M 1000 RR, that has a lot of potential.“
You know many different race bikes – what surprised you most about the BMW M 1000 RR?
“Primarily, I was very surprised from the power of the BMW M 1000 RR, that has a lot of potential. But now in hindsight, I was very surprised about the potential this bike offers in general. It was only now that I was able to feel which huge steps we will be able to make when we further develop the bike closely working together. I was also surprised how quickly BMW implemented our requests.”
You know WorldSBK from your wildcard appearances in the past season. How do you like the series?
“It’s a great series I feel very comfortable in. Otherwise I would not be here and would not take part in the championship. It is fun and it’s a great schedule. It is a bit different, more familiar and a bit more relaxed, but of course still on the absolute high level. I can’t wait to get the season started.”
You are very familiar with the Bonovo MGM Racing team – how important is that for a rider?
“That also depends on the rider but for me personally, it is very important. Nothing better could have happened to me than to move up to the world championship together with my familiar team. We contested the International German Championship together last season and raced together with a wildcard in WorldBSK twice. That made us a very close-knit team. It just fits, no one needs to newly adapt to the other, everybody knows what he has to do and we closely work together. That is why everything works smoothly.”
What is the biggest changeover for you in WorldSBK? Is there something you have to adapt to?
“The biggest changeover indeed is the bike, and the schedule of the race weekends but that’s okay. Yes, the bike is the biggest changeover but we are currently finding our direction and that works really, really well.”
Which races are you looking forward to the most?
“To the first one (laughs). Most of all I am looking forward to the first race because we all had to wait such a long time and I think we all are eager to start the first race. So anticipation is very high.”
How do you personally prepare for the start of the season?
“I continue my usual fitness training at home and of course I am in close exchange with my team and several people from BMW to prepare for the Aragón test. There still is quite some work ahead of us.”
And what are your goals for the new season?
“My goal is to continue the way we did, to do a good job and subsequently claim strong results. We have set the top-ten as our goal and if we achieve that we can be very satisfied.”