Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) – will he be the main victim of BMW’s incomprehensible test waiver in November 2020 in Jerez? (© BMW Motorrad).

Did BMW punish itself by not testing in November 2020?

Ducati recently tested privately in Misano after the tests in Jerez in January did not work due to the poor weather conditions. Like BMW, the Italians voluntarily waived the official test in Jerez de la Frontera in mid-November 2020 when the weather was wonderful in autumn. At temperatures of just over 10 degrees Celsius, the Ducati troop had to find out that the benefits are limited under such conditions. Even worse with BMW, especially with “Magic Michael” van der Mark, the hat should now be circling. The fast man from Gouda only drove a few demonstration laps in December on the BMW, which was completely new to him. Bad tongues said that the BMW team didn’t have to go to the south of France for that, the fair car park in Munich would have been good for that.

The Ducati troop preparing the Redding and Rinaldi bikes – due to the horrible temperatures on the Adriatic coast, the limit on the Misano track was almost as much shifted as if the track had been wet (© WorldSBK).

The consequences of not testing should be fatal

Because Ducati is from the factory in Misano within an hour and a half, the Italians can insert a private test at short notice at any time. Imola is even closer, and for the Kawasaki and HRC Honda factory teams, it’s a short walk to the Circuito de Cataluña. They are stationed in the immediate vicinity of the route. It looks much more difficult for BMW when it comes to short-term tests before April. This is unthinkable north of the Alps and the pandemic makes long journeys even more difficult. The fact that mutations and the failure of almost all governments will worsen the situation regarding Covid-19 was foreseeable and was already predicted by virologists in late summer. This is precisely why the consequences of BMW’s waiver of testing in November 2020 can have fatal consequences.

Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) on his first ride on the BMW M 1000-RR in December 2020 in southern France – the technical benefit was understandably limited at just above zero degrees Celsius (© BMW Motorrad).

The role models – Kawasaki and HRC Honda

Many doubted both the driver choice and HRC Honda’s approach when the troop developed a completely new strategy for the 2020 season. With the brand new Honda Fireblade CBR-1000RR-R they put BMW in the shade right away. Kawasaki also did everything right and brought a new ZX-10RR, which has been greatly improved in the most important points. With particularly an optimized engine and aerodynamics, revolutionary changes were deliberately avoided. This means that the data for the chassis setup can also be used practically one to one in the future.

Johnny Rea at the official tests in Jerez on November 17th to 18th, 2020 – already on the new Kawasaki ZX-10RR of the 2021 model year he was faster than HRC Honda MotoGP test driver Stefan Bradl. If you want to keep up with this man in the coming season, you have to get up early! (© Kawasaki Racing Team).

HRC Honde – absolutely on the right path
Honda also brought many improvements to the new Fireblade. The Japanese want success and the claim by some pranksters that they only use WorldSBK as a testing ground for the 8 Hours of Suzuka is total bullshit. It is well known that Pirelli tires are not used there and the results of Bautista and Haslam in the first year speak for themselves. Likewise, the choice of the team location, which is close to the Barcelona route. Honda wants to have a say in WorldSBK, as they did in the past, see examples in our history and looking back on previous years. They are currently on the right track and have chosen exactly the right drivers.

Leon Haslam and Alvaro Bautista on HRC Honda – the final breakthrough is only a matter of time and BMW and Yamaha in particular will have to wrap up warm next season (© HRC Honda).

And what will happen to BMW in the 2021 season?
How do you want to develop a completely new bike like the M 1000-RR between mid-March and the planned first race in Assen in such a short time? Many BMW fans are already excited about the excuses they will hear during the coming WorldSBK season. The drivers in particular are likely to suffer. “Magic Michael”, Tom Sykes, Eugene Laverty and Jonas Folger are probably not to be envied! Not the same applies to Toprak and his Yamaha colleagues, who can fall back on absolutely proven material. As soon as the young Turk, his new team-mate Andrea Locatelli and Garrett Gerloff warm up again, they will be ready. The only question mark remains japanese newcomer Kohta Nozane, but unlike the BMW riders, the other three are likely to be expected to be ready to fight 2021.

Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) at the Jerez tests in mid-November 2020 – in contrast to BMW and Ducati, Yamaha took the chance in splendid conditions for a final test before the end of the year (© WorldSBK).

The tests up to the currently planned start of the season

Portimao test: 4th – 5th March – 1st test planned by BMW, just 1.5 months before Assen
Jerez test: 9th – 10th March (Honda only)
Misano test: 15th – 16th March
Estoril test: 24th – 25th March
Barcelona test: March 31st – 1st April
MotorLand Aragon test: April 12th – 13t

Current provisional calendar

Assen and the overseas races are currently wobbling, which is why some changes can be expected in the next few weeks or months. However, this was already foreseeable in November 2020 when the calendar was created.