WorldSBK milestone at Portimão: The first victory!
Portimão. The chequered flag for the Superpole race on Sunday morning at Portimão was greeted with boundless celebrations in the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team pit area. Michael van der Mark won the race on his BMW M 1000 RR and the team celebrated the first win for BMW Motorrad Motorsport since returning to the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK). The result marks the next important milestone for the project. Dr. Markus Schramm, Head of BMW Motorrad, was at Portimão for the race weekend and was the first to offer his congratulations.
Michael van der Mark on his way to victory
Van der Mark was already on fast form during the rainy warm-up session, posting the best time on Sunday morning. The rain had stopped in time for the Superpole race but the circuit had not dried out. Starting from fifth on the grid, van der Mark had already moved up to third by the end of lap one. He then passed Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha) and moved into second place on lap two. On the next lap, he left Scott Redding (Ducati) behind to take the lead. Van der Mark never looked likely to surrender his lead, claiming the long-awaited first win after ten laps – fully 5.330 seconds ahead of his rivals.
Having won the Superpole race, van der Mark started the afternoon’s second race from pole position. That race took place in sunny conditions on a dry surface. However, a technical issue prevented him from mounting a real attack and he completed the second race in sixth place.
Eugene Laverty, racing in place of Tom Sykes again at Portimão, moved up from 13th on the grid to ninth position in the Superpole race. In the afternoon’s second race, he crossed the line in tenth place.
Jonas Folger from the Bonovo MGM Racing team completed the Superpole race in 13th place, and then crossed the line in 15th position in the afternoon’s second race. As the team will not be competing in the two upcoming overseas events, these were Folger’s last WorldSBK races of the season.
The Italian privateer team B-Max Racing Team raced at Portimão with a wildcard for rider Gabriele Ruiu. Ruiu finished 15th in the Superpole race. He retired early from both main races over the weekend.
The eleventh round of the season at Portimão marks the end of the European season in the WorldSBK 2021. The racing continues in two weeks with the penultimate event of the season in Argentina, while the finale will take place in Indonesia in November.
Quotes after race two at Portimão.
Dr. Markus Schramm, Head of BMW Motorrad: “It is something special to secure the first win for a project like this. I also think that we as a team have deserved this, and it shows that we are heading in the right direction. We are all proud of this win, which is an important step for the project that we are aiming to develop gradually. Congratulations to Michael van der Mark, the entire BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and everyone involved in this success. I would like to thank them all for their efforts and their hard work.”
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “This win is a real milestone for our project. It is just brilliant and I would like to thank the entire team. Thanks to BMW Motorrad as well for supporting this project. The conditions were pretty special this morning with the wet surface. Mickey showed during the warm-up that he is extremely fast and then produced a superb performance in the Superpole race. We know that the motorbike also goes really well in the wet. None of us will forget him crossing the line in a hurry. The pole position then gave us the best starting position you can have for the second race. Unfortunately, Mickey was struggling with an issue but that cannot spoil our delight at his victory. Eugene was not so happy with the motorbike in the wet this morning, but we were still able to make progress for the Superpole race and he recorded another two top-ten finishes. Overall, it was a really positive weekend for us.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “I am really, really happy for everyone in the project. We have worked very, very hard to get into this position. We are ambitious and we have proved that by the steps we have made over the years. It is still very early in the project considering we lost almost a year due to Covid. I am pleased for Mickey as well. To put him back on the podium and then to win that race just gives him the confidence and knowing we are going in the right direction. This weekend we knew all along, from qualifying on. We had a good pace in the wet and in the dry and I think that was the reward for him and the whole team so I am really pleased for everybody. In race two, Mickey made an okay start. We lost a few places but he was in the right group but we had a technical issue in the middle of the race. At that point he was second quickest on track and I think the podium for sure was in sight, but with the circumstances, the wind conditions and everything, we take that sixth position. For Eugene to stand in on the second weekend in a row he did a fantastic job. To finish in the top-ten against guys who have been racing in the championship for the full season just shows the quality there so he has done exactly what we expected from him. Overall, it has been a successful weekend. Now we are heading overseas and we hope we can get Tom fit and ready for Argentina and get the team back to full strength.”
Michael van der Mark
Michael van der Mark
“Yeah, it was a pretty good day. Of course, this morning it was nice to get a win with the BMW M1000 RR. It was a good race and I already felt good in the rain from this morning, and this carried through into the race, even when it started to dry, I still had a good feeling on the bike. I’m happy to take the win for BMW Motorrad and the whole team. Race 2 I didn’t get a good start, but I felt I had good pace but unfortunately we had some issues which cost me a lot of time and then my race from there was a bit lonely as I couldn’t catch up the guys in front. We have to learn, but at the end it was not a bad Sunday.”
“It was an OK day, but I am not satisfied with the race results as I wanted to be further up the field. We have tried to make the bike mine and we did make some progress in the dry race this afternoon, but I still couldn’t get the bike to load the front and have agility, so it was tough to finish like that. The wet race was nice. I did struggle in the first three laps to get heat into the rear tyre but once I got some temperature in the tyre it was enjoyable, and we got a good result from it.”
“It’s a case of mixed emotions for me. On the one hand, I am sad to be leaving the team. On the other hand, I am also a little bit relieved that a difficult year is now over. The final race was not an easy one either, as I had problems in the apex and when exiting corners. I couldn’t do any proper slides out of the turn, as my slides were really aggressive, so I just got it to the finish line. I would like to thank the whole team. We moved up to the WorldSBK together this year. They are all great people and we had a lot of fun together. I will certainly remember the great moments and they will all have a place in my heart.”