Off the back of four consecutive top ten finishes for BMW in the 2009 World Superbike Championship (WSBK), Troy Corser has his sights firmly set on conquering both pole position and the podium between now and season's end – but the real improvement, he vows, will come next year.
Corser and BMW made something of a breakthrough at Brno at the end of July, battling their way into the third stage of the knock-out Superpole qualifying session for the first time in 2009. He went on to take the chequered flag a season-high fifth in race one, following that up with a second successive top ten finish in race two, having briefly led both of them off the line.
That impressive progress – building on a previous best result of eighth, achieved in the Phillip Island curtain-raiser back at the beginning of March – would be maintained over the summer break, as Corser went on to equal his sixth spot in the Brno Superpole at the Nürburgring, popularly on BMW's home turf. A brace of top eight finishes on race day subsequently further underlined the leap up the pecking order the German outfit has made of late.
“The BMW engineers are doing a great job,” enthused the experienced Australian, speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio
. “At Brno we had a pretty good result – the bosses were there and they were happy with how it went – and then fortunately we had a six-week break in the middle of the season, which helped us a lot. The guys had a lot of time to go back and analyse everything, and we came out for the second half of the year having made big steps.
“We went to the next one [at the Nürburgring] and we made another step forward. Obviously for BMW's home race it was fantastic; in Superpole I was second in [the second knock-out phase of] qualifying, and in the races I was running at the same lap times as everybody else. They're not really worried about first, second, third, fourth, fifth positions – it's just about being on the same lap times as everybody else, and then we'll be there for next year. The goal is still next year – we're not losing our focus – but hopefully we can get some strong results in the last few rounds.”
From lining up just 17th on the grid in front of his home fans Down Under almost seven months ago – more than 1.8 seconds shy of the leading pace – it is clear that BMW has come on in leaps and bounds as the season has advanced, with Corser pointing to developments to the frame, suspension, linkages and swing-arm and particularly the engine.
Now, he affirms, with potentially extra facilities available to the WSBK effort following the Bavarian manufacturer's impending withdrawal from Formula 1, the target is to unlock the door to the rostrum at which he has been knocking in recent outings, as he and the team prepare to turn up the wick another notch or two in 2010.
“The engine has probably been the biggest area we've worked on,” explained the 37-year-old, “which has made the bike a lot easier to ride. We just had too much power in the wrong areas, and now we've got the power pretty much where we want it to be – it feels like a normal bike and race engine now, so that's made it a lot easier for me and for the mechanics to understand what is the next step.
“It's not just about outright power on the bike, though; it's about using it and the electronics that we're working on now, for traction control and fuelling and stuff like that, which we really haven't touched at all because we've just been trying to understand the engine without any electronic assistance. Now we're starting to work on little bits and pieces to gain those last couple of tenths.