Tom Sykes on his new bike – the joker from Huddersfield recently gave an interview before the start of the test, see under “Interviews+TV” or this link:

First test in Andalusia – without Eugene Laverty

The new BMW M 1000 RR experienced its first fire premiere at the Circuito de Jerez in a three-day test. The test started on Sunday with two of the three BMW teams in action, with Eugene Laverty (RC Squadra Corse) absent in Jerez. The Northern Irishman is not expected until the big test with almost all teams at the Circuito de Cataluña near Barcelona. With a few exceptions such as Thomas Gradinger, most of the WorldSBK and WSSP drivers are expected there. Sykes, van der Mark and Folger were on duty in Jerez de la Frontera. Like Laverty, the German has been accommodated in a private team in order to tackle his first full WSBK season in the 2nd Corona year.

Michael van der Mark (BMW M-1000RR) at the Circuito de Jerez – the new addition to the blue-and-white works team drove his work device on a racetrack for the first time.

Time is of the essence – it should start in just under 2 months

After four years in competition with the PATA Yamaha WorldSBK Team, Van der Mark will appear in a new BMW factory outfit for 2021. The Dutchman, who comes from the cheese town of Gouda, is not to be envied after his move. In December, for the first time ever, he was allowed to do a few laps on a BMW in-house test track near Marseille with the M-1000RR in the south of France at just over 10 degrees Celsius. At the moment, there are many indications that the white-blue team will start the season even worse than last year. Originally, the four-time winner of the 8 Hours of Suzuka had hoped to be able to unwind many test kilometers. Since it starts in just under two months in Aragon, he and his team are in danger of running out of time.

Despite the postcard weather in Jerez, we can understand the scowl of “Magic Michael” in his box. The time for developing the brand-new BMW M-1000RR is extremely short.

So far, no test times published by BMW – not a good sign

Time is of the essence, and not just for the four-time WorldSBK race winner from the Netherlands. Jonas Folger and Tom Sykes also did their first laps together with van der Mark far behind almost all other drivers. Since BMW has not yet published any test times, most observers regard this as an alarming sign. Because they were the worst-prepared top team last year, BMW fans rightly fear that another debacle for the Bavarian brand is looming after 2020. At first, parts were sorted out and different setup variants were tried out. Tests should always be viewed with caution, but it can be assumed that if the training times had been good, they would have been published. There were allegedly driven times on the Internet early on, but these come purely from hearsay and there is no evidence for this. In contrast to earlier WSBK tests in Jerez, at which HRC Honda MotoGP and Bradl were also present, the time monitor was not activated.

Jonas Folger on his new toy – the Bavarian is not to be envied, as a rookie, being able to take to the track with the last on his completely new bike. In this respect, his official statements, like those of his colleagues, should be treated with caution. No driver would dare to publicly express negative criticism of BMW.

More powerful engine and many optimizations – but the comparison is missing

It is known that the engine of the M-1000RR is more powerful, but this was also the main reason for the new development and not a real sensation. The FIM has not yet published the speed limits either. So for the Kawasaki with its new ZX-10RR of the 2021 model year it is not yet clear where its limitation will be applied. What is certain, however, is that, unlike BMW, the Greens have already completed their most important preparations. The time for further development and additional optimizations until Aragon is extremely short. It would be all the more important to determine the actual position. However, this is still missing for the time being and therefore the fans are hoping for reassuring news from Barcelona in a week.

Tom Sykes on the new BMW M-1000RR – the Englishman is often almost unbeatable on a single lap. This was also seen a year ago during the tests and training sessions in Phillip Island (Australia). We were there and were amazed that at that time he was described by many as the coming winner. But in the race it was passed and the whole season was a single disappointment. One of BMW’s problems right from the start was its stability, which is why the drivers often retired with problems.

First real positioning from March 31st at the earliest
If BMW will be there in Barcelona on March 31st and April 1st, the first hour of truth will come there. Until then, the statements by drivers and team should be treated with caution anyway, because they simply lack a comparison with the competition. In this respect, a first real determination of the position will not be possible before March 31st in Barcelona. Should only Laverty appear there and the factory team stay away. Optimization cannot only be carried out in the laboratory, also because the search for improvements without test kilometers is often tantamount to flying blind. This applies at least if BMW does not test on tracks on which reference values from other teams exist. Like last year, when everyone shook their heads that the blue-whites were testing at the Lausitzring instead of on one of the usual tracks.

Michael van der Mark (BMW M-1000RR) the Dutchman last rode a WSBK superbike on one of the routes in the calendar in mid-October 2020, back then on the Yamaha. Since BMW had not carried out the tests in Jerez in November, he, like Folger and Sykes, is still missing many test kilometers.

For some remarks on BMW’s secrecy see the following article:

Unless otherwise stated, this applies to all images (© WorldSBK).