Jonas Folger (Yamaha YZF-R1) in his second wildcard appearance in 2020 on the Circuito do Estoril in Portugal. For the former German MotoGP top rider it would have been easier to jump into the first full WSBK season on the familiar Yamaha. But at the brand with the crossed tuning forks, all 4 places in their 2 teams were occupied early.

Why BMW is testing behind closed doors in Jerez

For the BMW test in Jerez and its secrecy, there was a lot of uncertainty among the fans of the blue-and-white and their drivers. Tom Sykes behaved much more cautiously in the interview last week than before the start of the 2020 season. For more information see on this page under “Interviews+TV” or the following link: The Huddersfield jester got unusually serious when questions for him revolved around expectations for the coming season and preparations. There is a reason for this, as at the time he had absolutely no idea what to expect in Jerez for the first rollout of the year.

Jonas Folger (left) and Eugene Laverty at the BMW launch of their two private + teams. You and your fans have to tremble that the new M-1000RR is more competitive and more stable than last year’s bike.

Lessons learned from the experience a year ago
In the previous year, Sykes and BMW team boss Bongers had embarrassed themselves terribly. Before the start of the season Down Under, the big tones were struck and there were talk of victories, podiums and title ambitions. After which, however, 2020 turned into an absolute debacle. The distances from the racetracks to Munich were much shorter than, for example, those of the competition from Kawasaki and Honda. HRC Honda in particular had to struggle with the pandemic with their brand new CBR-1000RR-R, as the Japanese could not fly back and forth this time. The fact that BMW now absolutely wanted to test behind closed doors can only mean that they are not yet on a par with the competition.

WorldSBK Podium after the 1st race in Donington in July 2019 with Tom Sykes (P2), winner Jonathan Rea and the third Leon Haslam (both Kawasaki). So far, the man in the middle has worn down every teammate with his incredible achievements. For Sykes, the BMW 2018 offer came like a godsend and in the first year there were already the first successes, but the slump came in 2020.

The moment of truth is approaching – what is BMW doing in Barcelona?

The fact that BMW has been testing in Jerez since March 22nd and has not sent a single press release about it feeds the fears of many skeptics. Against this background, Jonas Folger can spread the euphoric news about the supposedly incredibly powerful engine of the new M-1000RR, but this is not really reassuring for BMW fans. The moment of truth is approaching and everyone is wondering what is BMW doing in Barcelona? Do you arrive and do you have your first excuses soon? Or maybe they don’t even take part?

We already saw the scowl of “Magic Michael” van der Mark in earlier years. For example, in the Parc Fermé of Donington 2019 after the comeback with pain in the only just healed wrist after his violent training crash in Misano. If the M-1000RR is really ready in time, its features will hopefully brighten up again.

The time until the first race is particularly questionable
We don’t know either and, with the best will in the world, cannot take their secrecy as a good sign. Especially not that they wanted to share the route with Honda and Lowes not a few days earlier. In the meantime, nobody would be surprised if the blue-and-whites would even forego traveling to the first official Dorna WSBK tests in Barcelona if their performance was too bad. The main question at BMW is the short time from the current test to the first race and whether this is enough to prepare. This was the most used excuse of the blue-whites last year, so the later start of the test is all the more astonishing.

A scene that was symptomatic of the messed up 2020 season, when in Magny-Cours Tom Sykes falls second from the left in the first corner and immediately clears away teammate Eugene Laverty. The claim that the inside Garrett Gerloff (look at how far inside he is compared to the leading Jonathan Rea) was to blame for the crash of Sykes was outrageous, we were right there where it happened and this was a pure one lie.

Restraint can be positive – but hiding is not an option

After the full-bodied announcements a year ago, the sounds at BMW have become noticeably quieter before the new season begins. According to reigning world champion Jonathan Rea, he and the Kawasaki team have already done around 90 percent of the work for the start of the season. Yamaha recently drove for the first time at Misano, Honda had the Jerez Test with Lowes as a guest and now BMW is the last to arrive with their game of hide-and-seek. Admittedly, reluctance can be positive, especially after the experience of 2020. But hide-and-seek like with robber and gendarme games doesn’t work because in Barcelona the truth comes to light. There, at the latest, you will see whether “Magic Michael” and Tom Sykes on the M-1000RR are immediately on par with the competition. Should they stay away from the Barcelona Test, which some observers fear, then good night friends.

Tom Sykes photographed by us in the WSBK interview in Imola in 2019. A fast lap is seldom the problem for the man from Huddersfield, and he did that several times last year. However, the championship ranks 12 for Sykes and 15 for Laverty were a disaster for the two experienced drivers and BMW.

Unless otherwise mentioned, applies to all images: (© WorldSBK).