San Juan. The BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and riders, Tom Sykes (GBR) and Markus Reiterberger (GER), defied very tricky conditions in Saturday's FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) race at San Juan (ARG). Sykes crossed the finish line in seventh with Reiterberger in eleventh position. The 'Circuito San Juan Villicum' hosts the twelfth and penultimate round of the 2019 WorldSBK season.
Teams and riders have been struggling with the slippery surface caused by sand on the Argentinian track. It was an issue for Friday's free practice sessions and continued on Saturday. In Superpole qualifying, most riders were unable to take advantage of the softer qualifying tyres to improve their times in the closing stages of the session. The same went for Sykes who finished qualifying in 13th position. Reiterberger was 17th. In the race itself, Sykes and Reiterberger were among a total of twelve riders who lined up on the grid while a further six riders opted to not participate. After 21 laps, Sykes took the chequered flag in seventh position, with Reiterberger in eleventh position.
Quotes after race one at San Juan.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: 'In general, a seventh place is not too bad, but it's a result that should not be classified as such as quite a few riders did not participate. While probably only two of them would have been in front of us, the issue is that we lost 1.5 seconds per lap to the front. The track conditions are very, very tricky but it seems that other teams have found a solution to better cope with that. We need to be able to do the same. We made some changes and now have to analyse to which degree they have a positive impact. Our lap times have improved but in general we are too far away from the front.'
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: 'Superpole was very difficult for us. We went into the Superpole like most riders with the first exit trying to find a good balance of the bike. Then we put the qualifying tyre on but did not make any progress. Tom normally does a very good step with the qualifying tyre and this time we could not improve the position. In the race, again we went a bit into the dark with a setting we wanted to try on the bike to give him some more mechanical grip. This appeared to make some progress forward but it was a very long race and the conditions were difficult so we are happy to come home with the seventh position. On Markus' side, he simply struggled with his confidence and could not find the balance of the bike and therefore cannot come into the corners aggressively. And we know that on a circuit like this the competition level is so high and we must lift ourselves to that level. At the moment, Markus is finding that very tough - but he's being professional and we will continue to try to find improvements overnight and make a step forward for tomorrow.'
Tom Sykes: 'Obviously we have really strange conditions this weekend, which is a shame. Here in Argentina, the circuit layout is absolutely fantastic, the fans are so passionate for the racing and unfortunately we have these bad conditions. We sat down and tried to get the best set-up for the BMW S 1000 RR. Honestly to finish seventh we had some good luck for this but we will take it and continue to set up the RR for the next race. We definitely got a lot of information that we will use for tomorrow to improve. This is completely new territory for us really and completely different surface conditions. We just need a little bit more time to adjust and we have seen the potential of the package in the wet and the dry. Hopefully now we have a lot of information to make a good step for tomorrow trying to keep a good solid run of results. The only downside is that our starting position on the grid is not ideal for the sprint race which ultimately sets you up for the big race. So we will see and keep working overnight and try to make the most of the situation tomorrow.'
Markus Reiterberger: 'Conditions in Superpole have been really difficult. It was much hotter than yesterday and even then the riders had said that it is dangerous to ride because it's far too slippery; there's too much dirt on the track and as result there is no grip. You have a line of a maximum of a metre you can use. If you leave that line you are close to crashing. It seems that the track had been cleaned over night and all was fine in the third free practice session. In Superpole, however, conditions were even worse which was very unusual. In these extremely bad conditions I could not qualify well and that's how I started into the race. Many of the other riders did not participate. We sat together in the team and said: 'We will race!'. The grip indeed was a bit better as it became cooler, but the race itself was a bit lonely for me. I had a good start and improved by two positions but then I hit the dirt in the first corner and nearly crashed. Then I had two more moments and all I did then was to bring it home and to at least collect some points finishing eleventh. It's difficult conditions for all that we have to cope with. So I want to take the opportunity to thank my team because also with bad conditions and results we keep standing together, and together we give our very best.'