20/02/24
The time for waiting is over. The ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and BMW Motorrad Motorsport are set to begin the 2024 season of the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) this coming weekend (23rd to 25th February) with new addition Toprak Razgatlioglu (TUR) as the new teammate of Michael van der Mark (NED). Once again, the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit southeast of Melbourne (AUS) hosts the season opener.

To conclude the season preparation, the team and both factory riders had a test day on Tuesday. This was utilised for fine-tuning the BMW M 1000 RR Superbikes for the first race weekend of the year. Additionally, analysis was conducted on how the new asphalt of the Phillip Island track affects the setup.

The first free practices will take place on Friday. Superpole and race one will follow on Saturday, with the Superpole Race and race two scheduled for Sunday.

Quotes ahead of the Phillip Island round.

Shaun Muir, ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team Principal: “It’s been a real battle over the last months to get Toprak and Michael ready for the first race weekend here in Phillip Island, Australia. A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes with all of the preseason tests in Portimão, Jerez, Valencia and here in Phillip Island, Melbourne have been absolutely vital but now we’re ready to go racing. Toprak spent a lot of his time this morning getting up to speed and this afternoon focused on race simulations, finishing in a very strong P1 position which we’re very happy with. Michael was comfortably in the top six for most of the day, but just lost touch at the very end as he didn’t get a good run on his two softest tyres – but that doesn’t deter us. There’s a lot of questions surrounding the new tarmac at the Phillip Island circuit, and it’s clear that’s going to be the challenge of the race weekend. It’s super abrasive which is something we’re going to have to take into consideration, and there is a lot of work to do, to be able to survive a race distance in these hot conditions with the extra grip. The challenges from FP1 on Friday will be getting settled in again, using what we’ve learned today to get the race setup finalised, and to get a tyre which can give us performance over the complete race distance. I’m confident that we can achieve that and we look forward to a successful weekend.”

Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “The final results of the test day are a bit difficult to assess. The last minutes of the test felt like a qualifying session, but we were consistently up front throughout. That was very encouraging. I believe that in race trim, Michael will be further up the grid than he is now in the test rankings. Making a prediction for the race is extremely difficult because we definitely have issues with the tyres. We simply can’t sustain them over the race distance. This is not unique to us; it’s a challenge for our competitors as well. There will be discussions with Pirelli in the next couple of days. I don’t anticipate completing the full race distance; there might even be a flag-to-flag race. Since the decision is pending, no predictions can be made. It could either be a highly strategic, tyre-preserving race, or there might be two consecutive sprint races. Overall, it’s gratifying that this is the third consecutive test where we are at the forefront. Our package is working, and I expect strong results without providing a precise prediction.”

Toprak Razgatlıoğlu (#54 BMW M 1000 RR, ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “I have to admit that I was really scared before I came here because this is not a track that suits my style. In addition, it was the first time for me to ride here with the BMW M 1000 RR. But I tried to do my best in every session. On this track, you need more grip to ride the bike. The old surface did not offer so much grip but on the new one, I was feeling too much grip and the bike was feeling really good. It was working really well and we made a very good lap time with the SC0 tyre. In general, the bike is working really well with the SC1 tyre and we found a very good set-up. I am happy, but that was just testing and in the last ten minutes, everyone pushed for good lap times, including me. We did a very good one, we finished in P1. This is good but I am focused on the race because I am working for the race and we will see. It looks like it could be a flag-to-flag race because the tyre is destroyed after ten laps, but we will see – in general, I am happy!”

Michael van der Mark (#60 BMW M 1000 RR, ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “It was nice to finally get out on track here. It is always great to ride this track. I am really enjoying it. The new surface gives a lot of grip and we also feel that the bike has improved a lot over the year. Our main focus was to work on the basis of the bike which is very good. Now Phillip Island is all about tyre life so we tried to find some solution to make the tyre last. It’s not easy but we are working on it. At the end of the day I tried to push for a time attack but I had a red flag on my lap. The final position in the standings is not where we want to be but we were on a good lap. I am looking forward to the race weekend, I think that we are quite strong and as I said, it is all about managing the tyres and that what is we have to do.”

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