It’s time: 2022 WorldSBK season starts at Aragón.
Alcañiz. The preparation phase is over, now it’s time for action. This weekend (8th to 10th April), BMW Motorrad Motorsport gets started in the FIM Superbike World Championship 2022 (WorldSBK) at MotorLand Aragón, Spain. This season, the two BMW teams, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and Bonovo action BMW Racing Team, are fielding a total of four BMW M 1000 RRs. At the final two-day test at MotorLand Aragón on Monday and Tuesday, the teams and riders finalised preparations for the start of the season.
BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team’s BMW newbie Scott Redding will contest his first races on the BMW M 1000 RR. His team-mate Michael van der Mark, not starting at the Aragón opener due to injury, will be replaced by BMW works rider Ilya Mikhalchik. Bonovo action BMW Racing Team is also fielding two motorbikes this season. They will be ridden by Eugene Laverty, who is entering his third year as a BMW works rider, and BMW newcomer Loris Baz.
Both mornings of testing at the start of the week were extremely cold with temperatures around freezing. Things warmed up slightly as the days went on, and the two teams and riders used the 45-minute sessions to work on the tuning of the BMW M 1000 RR for the season opener. At MotorLand Aragón, in addition to the four works motorbikes, a fifth BMW M 1000 RR will be competing. The Italian privateer B-Max Racing Team will contest the season opener with wildcard rider Gabriele Ruiu.
Quotes ahead of the season opener at MotorLand Aragón.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “After a winter break of four months it is always exciting to start the new season. Lots is new for us. For one thing, we have developed the BMW M 1000 RR in many areas. We have also strengthened ourselves in terms of riders and are now competing with a quartet that combines speed with a wealth of WorldSBK experience. Scott Redding is new to BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, and we are confident that it won’t take him long to get used to the BMW M 1000 RR. Unfortunately, Michael van der Mark’s fractured leg means that he is unable to be there for the opener. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope to have him back at the track soon. Ilya Mikhalchik is a good replacement who will help us gain further valuable insights into the motorbike in the first few races. At Bonovo action BMW Racing Team, Eugene Laverty brings his combined experience, and alongside Loris Baz forms a strong rider pairing that will allow the team to take a big step forward in the WorldSBK. We are setting ourselves realistic goals for the Aragón opener. We are aiming to be up there in the top five initially, and then be battling for the lead as soon as possible.”
#45 Scott Redding
“Because of the cold track conditions it was hard to do the work really consistently, but we were working on a few things. One of them was rear grip; we are still struggling in that area at the moment. In the end it was another circuit we have come to, it was a bit different, so we had to play a lot with the bike set-up to get more of a feeling but we are still not achieving the feeling that we want to have so we still have some more work to do. Now I am looking forward to the first race on the BMW. It’s going to be hard, for sure, but this is where we can collect more race data for me to ride with the other guys and understand the riding style a little bit more. The expectation? We need to see. At the moment we are not quite where we want to be but we have a couple of days to come with some more solutions and then we’ll try again and see if we can improve.”
#37 Ilya Mikhalchik
“On these two days of testing we tried a lot of new things for the upcoming season. We found a lot of positive things, so I think that Scott and Michael can make another step during the season on the bike so we are happy with that. Then in the end I focused on my settings for the race weekend to be well prepared. For sure, I am really excited to compete in my first WorldSBK races and first of all I want to say a big thank you to BMW for this opportunity. Secondly I wish Michael that he gets well soon and back on his bike as fast as possible. For now I do his job and so far it is looking quite well for me. I get a better feeling for the bike with every lap. I am really confident for the race week because I know the track, I know the bike and the team now, so we can do a good job in my first WorldSBK races.”
#50 Eugene Laverty
“We still have some work to do. The good thing here is that we have the race weekend at the same track so we can continue and try to improve in our weak areas but the two days of testing have been beneficial, even if I still want more. I like the Aragón track and in the past have often been strong here. It’s the first race weekend with the Bonovo action BMW Racing Team and so far it has been a fantastic atmosphere in testing so I am excited to start the season. The weather will be much warmer at the weekend compared with this test so that changes everything. So let’s see, it will be good fun.”
#76 Loris Baz
“It has been a strange test because it was really cold but the Pirelli tyre works well in the cold, like always. Overall I am happy with the improvement we made, even if I am not completely satisfied with the bike yet. The most important thing is that we are going into the right direction, we make the right changes and I think that everything we tried was pretty good. I am happy with the job we do with BMW and the Bonovo action BMW Racing Team. It’s great that we could continue the good work we made at Misano after the difficult Barcelona test. Now I am excited to go into the first race weekend. I’m a race guy and all I want is to be on the grid so it is really great to start again. The first weekend is always interesting because you build from there so it is an important weekend as a base for the rest of the season. I hope we can continue with the same feeling we had at the test, trying to make improvement again on the race pace. Let’s see what we can achieve. If we could be in the top-six with the pace we had at the test would be really good.”