Van der Mark: “You always want to race”.


Barcelona. Dutchman Michael van der Mark goes into the 2021 WorldSBK season as the new addition to the BMW Motorrad Motorsport factory team – the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. In an exclusive interview following the tests at Barcelona, he speaks about his first months with BMW, his impressions of the new BMW M 1000 RR, the areas that have been worked on at the test, the fascination of racing, his home round at Assen and his expectations for the coming season.

An interview with Michael van der Mark.

Michael van der Mark at the Barcelona test

Michael, how well did you gel into the BMW family in the first months?

“Really well. Of course, we had a little roll-out last year where we had the opportunity to meet each other. Then we had the Jerez test where it was just BMW and I think that was really perfect for us because we just could work quietly with all the BMW guys and the whole team. You always have to get used to each other and I think it was really positive. I really enjoy the way we are working and it never felt strange. That’s really positive, of course.”

You just completed the test at Barcelona; what areas did you work on?

“This was the first test with all the other riders and we were working a lot on the electronics and chassis as well. With the new BMW M 1000 RR which has a lot more horsepower we have to work a lot on the electronics side, and I think we made a really good step forward. We tried so many things and, as always with a test, at the end you could use an extra day. But we have some really good data now and, like I said, the thing where we can improve the most now is the electronics to use the power of the bike.”

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Michael van der Mark

It’s certainly not easy to get used to a new bike – what areas of the bike are you happy with already and where do you need to do some more work?

“I am really happy about the fact that for sure the power of the bike is there. The top speed has improved a lot. So far we just cannot make full use of it, we are lacking a bit of grip so we have to find a solution there with the chassis and the electronics. But the overall feeling is pretty good, it’s just some small areas we have to work on.”

In general, how would you describe the new BMW M 1000 RR?

“Fast. Just fast. And it looks nice, of course.”

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Michael van der Mark

What is your typical riding style? And what bike set-up do you need for that?

“I am always fast, especially in fast corners which are my strong points. And I am always really consistent. So for me right now I need to gain a little bit more confidence with the BMW in the fast corners and we are working on finding a solution for that.”

How will you personally prepare for the new season in the coming weeks?

“It takes a lot of time. Before we start racing, we have to stay fit so I am cycling, running, just a bit of everything.”

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It is always better to have the competition on the track and fight with the other guys.


Michael van der Mark

Michael van der Mark

The season starts in May at MotorLand Aragón. How eager are you to finally race again?

“All winter, you are waiting to ride the bike again and now we had some days of testing. It’s always good to ride the bike but it is not the same as racing. You always want to race, even if you might not be perfectly ready for it. It is always better to have the competition on the track and fight with the other guys. I think that also on race weekends, we can make a big step and you can give that little extra push as well.”

Is that the attraction of racing for you – the competition on track with the other guys?

“Yes, especially when you beat them.”

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Michael van der Mark

Are there tracks that suit you better than others or are all the same for you?

“Of course there are some tracks that you like more or enjoy more but there is no particular track that I don’t like. I think every track has something special.”

From what you know so far about the bike, what tracks do you think could suit the BMW M 1000 RR?

“I am sure tracks with a long, long, long straight, but I think that the whole bike package is working well so it’s difficult to say which tracks will suit it best. But a track I really like for sure is Assen where I’ve always been fast on every bike, so I think I will be really fast there with the BMW M 1000 RR as well.”

Tell us about the enthusiasm for the ‘Cathedral of Speed’ – your home track Assen.

“It is something special. I had a lot of races there in the past but I don’t know why, every year, it does not matter what bike, I am fast. And I think it’s this little extra. I don’t know how to explain but for some reason, whenever I get there, I am always fast and I can always be a little quicker than normal.”

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For some reason, whenever I get to Assen, I am always fast and I can always be a little quicker than normal.


Michael van der Mark

Michael van der Mark

Navarra is new to the calendar – do you know that circuit?

“No, I haven’t been there yet. I am looking forward to going there and hope that we will have a test there before the race. It’s always good to have new tracks on the calendar, especially in a strange situation like now and last year. It’s good that the organisers try to add tracks and races instead of cancelling in these difficult times.”

What is the most tense moment for you at a race weekend?

“Just before the start of every race. Not on the grid itself, it’s more the time in the pitbox until you go out to the grid. On the grid is all fine. It’s just those moments before.”

What are your expectations and your goals for the new season?

“It’s difficult to set that expectations but I think we can get that package working and our target will be to be on the podium as soon as possible. We still have a lot of work to do but that’s our goal. And of course we want to win races but I think it’s better to first focus on getting the bike ready and fighting for podiums.”

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