Just two days after concluding its third season in the World Superbike Championship, BMW is already looking ahead to 2012 by giving the new-specification S1000RR its debut run in the hands of Leon Haslam and new signing Marco Melandri.
Though there were only a handful of teams present at the traditional post-season test, BMW were represented by Haslam and Melandri on the factory-backed machine, plus Michel Fabrizio and Ayrton Badovini on the 'Italia' bikes.
Changes to the bike include a shorter fairing at the rear, while the front fairing is steeper in an effort to improve aerodynamics and rider ergonomics. More significantly, a new engine has been designed to improve ride-ability and low-end torque, a common complaint of the 2011 machine.
Signalling the long-awaited first outing for Melandri, runner-up with Yamaha in his maiden season of WSBK racing, the Italian set a best time of 1min 43.7secs, just under a second off former team-mate Eugene Laverty's leading pace.
Haslam, meanwhile, ended the day with a lap of 1min 43.2secs was encouraged about the changes to the machine.
“It was a positive test day”, the Briton, who finished fifth overall for BMW in 2011, said. “The new engine spec is a progress; you can feel a difference there. We now need to push more in that same direction. The main thing we were working on today was the chassis set up.
“The new bike needs to be set up a little bit differently than the 2011 one. I am confident in that area, too. Overall, I am glad to be back testing, looking for next year. We do not have to go out and race but can only focus on improving the bike. That is always good.”