As one of the most successful riders in World Superbike Championship history, Troy Corser already demands respect from rivals, commentators and fans alike. However, what continues to set him apart from other champions, is his hunger for new and exciting challenges.
It's a motivation that has seen Corser ride for the likes of Ducati, Aprilia, Foggy Petronas, Suzuki and Yamaha in a WSBK career that dates back to 1995…
It is this desire to try something new that drew him to BMW, who were not only plotting their first season in the World Superbike Championship, but in international road racing as a whole. While it remains a huge company with a deep pool of resources, there is no substitute for experience, explaining why Corser was its number one choice.
Although immediately compared alongside fellow newcomers (or returnees) Aprilia, BMW's novice status meant expectations were modest, with 2009 being described as a 'development year'.
Still, Corser went some way to raising hopes with a remarkable turn in the opening race of the season at Phillip Island where he finished eighth and scored the fastest lap. As the rounds wore on though, this feat possibly had as much to do with Corser's affinity with the Australian circuit as anything else.
The BMW S1000RR was a competitive machine hampered by recurring factors – a lack of data around unknown circuits, a sensitive set-up window, particularly in qualifying, and the sheer competitiveness of its rivals. Indeed, Corser pointed out that his race pace on the BMW in 2009 was better than several race winning turns in 2008.
Aside from a few expected low points, particularly in the first half of the year when Corser suffered a shoulder injury and BMW seemed to lose its way after an encouraging opening few races, the mid-season raft of developments transformed the S1000RR into a regular top ten contender.
Leading both races at Brno – albeit briefly – led to a season-best result of fifth, although Corser's sixth and eighth at the Nurburgring signalled BMW's most lucrative round overall.
Overshadowing similarly experienced team-mate Ruben Xaus, Corser has made good noises about BMW's potential and its linear progress in 2009 suggests it could spring a few surprises in 2010. If it can produce a bike fast enough for the podium, then Corser is definitely the rider capable of getting it there.
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2008:
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2009:
- Shane Byrne