Most. The eighth round of the FIM Superbike World Championship 2023 in Most, Czechia delivered solid results and some highlights for the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. Scott Redding (GBR) finished fourth in the first main race to match his best race result of the season, while Michael van der Mark (NED), returning to the team after missing an extended period due to injury, chalked up some points and got plenty of race kilometres under his belt.
The BMW Motorrad factory riders put down some markers in the free practice sessions. Redding recorded the best time in FP1 on Friday, finishing second in Saturday’s FP3. The atmosphere was full of optimism before the Superpole, but numerous falls and yellow flags in qualifying repeatedly put the brakes on the hunt for fast lap times. Redding and van der Mark qualified 15th and 18th respectively.
Race one on Saturday afternoon developed into a tyre lottery. Rain set in at the start, but the expectation was that it would ease off and the track would quickly dry out. So, the key question on the wet grid was: which tyres should we start the race on? Redding selected wet-weather tyres on the grid, but headed for the pits after the warm-up lap to put on intermediates. This meant he had to start at the back of the field, from the pit lane. However, Redding ploughed through the field with a great chasing performance, spending time in second place before crossing the line in fourth after 22 laps. Van der Mark played it safe by starting on wet-weather tyres and then pitted after a few laps to switch to slicks. He scored points in his first race after a long, injury-enforced break, finishing 13th.
It rained once again on Saturday night and Sunday morning, but the track dried out in time for the Superpole Race before noon. Redding and van der Mark crossed the finishing line in 13th and 14th.
Rain clouds re-appeared before the start of the second main race on Sunday afternoon, but conditions remained dry for the race. Redding started from 15th and produced another great chasing performance in the dry as he moved up to eighth. Van der Mark finished 15th to score another point.
WorldSBK is now taking a summer break. The ninth round of the 2023 season will take place on 8th to 10th September in Magny-Cours, France.
Reactions to the Imola round.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “It was a very mixed weekend, both in terms of results and weather. And these were partly related. For Michael, his comeback weekend unfortunately started negatively. In FP2, there was a mechanical issue that caused a crash. Fortunately, he was okay and from Saturday onwards things went smoothly in technical terms, and it was good that he could do several laps to assess where he stands and what he needs to work on. He finished all the races and scored points. We are very satisfied with that. For Scott, we were very strong in the free practices, however qualifying was difficult. The session is short and tight, and with the rule that lap times get cancelled with yellow flags, even with a strong pace, it’s possible to come up short. And that was the case with Scott. However, he made a good decision in the first race and came in again before the start to switch to intermediates. He secured an extremely strong fourth place. In the second main race, he climbed from P15 to eighth. He had a solid pace again, but starting from the back is still challenging. Now we head into the summer break, and in early September, we hope for a strong start to the final stretch of the season in Magny-Cours.”
Scott Redding, #45 ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “Overall the weekend was pretty good. We were first on Friday in mixed conditions and second in FP3. We were a bit more up there which was nice. Obviously we had to take a gamble in different conditions but it paid off. I was a bit upset with the result in this morning’s Superpole race. We had an issue, something was not quite right, an it made it difficult to stop the bike. It was hard because I wanted to try and finish in the top nine, to have a better start position for race two, and knew I had better pace than that but I just couldn’t do it, so it was frustrating. In race two, I wanted to try and bounce back and show my potential again as a rider, so to come from 15th and have a good pace in the second half of the race was good. It took me a while to get through a few guys and to get a clear track but I felt I was riding well and the pace was good. I think we were 13 seconds off the leader of which I was probably lost three, four, five in the beginning. It wasn’t ideal but I felt strong and the main thing is I enjoyed riding the bike today.”
Michael van der Mark, #60 BMW M 1000 RR, ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “This Sunday was OK for me. My priority was to do as many laps as possible. Of course you also want to go as fast as possible too. In this morning’s Superpole race, I was happy. I had quite a good rhythm but it was not more than ten laps. Then in race two, I had a good start but was a bit too cautious into turn one and then I was behind a big group. I stayed with them for a while but I was pushing too much to stay with them so I backed off because I knew I had to do as many laps as possible. It was a lonely race but we had to finish, we had to do the laps. So I am happy with the result. Overall, it’s nice to be back.”