BMW has formally launched its 2013 World Superbike Championship campaign ahead of its first season under the stewardship of its Italian-based subsidiary.
After four years competing as a works effort run out its German base, BMW will enter into its fifth season of World Superbike action having transferred its factory backing to Feel Racing, which raced as the satellite BMW Italia team in 2011 and 2012.
The move comes in the wake of a hugely successful 2012 season for the previous in-house team that saw Marco Melandri notch up six victories on the way to third position in the standings. By contrast, BMW Italia managed just a pair of podiums, though Sylvain Barrier did claim its second Superstock 1000 title in three years.
Despite the changes, BMW has reiterated that it is still fully behind its World Superbike effort, which will now be run out of Italian and German bases, with star signing Melandri moving over to front its campaign, while Chaz Davies joins him as his team-mate.
Indeed, as if to emphasise its commitment, BMW has dropped the 'Italia' suffix, adopting the more official 'BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK' moniker instead. The machine is based on S1000RR HP4 road bike, which is lighter than the standard S1000RR.
“Motorsport will once again play a major role for BMW Motorrad this year,” said Stephan Schaller, President of BMW Motorrad, speaking at the launch in Munich. “2012 was by far our most successful season to date in the FIM Superbike World Championship. With six wins, 18 podiums, six fastest laps, the second place overall in the Manufacturers' Championship and the title win in the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup, BMW Motorrad established itself as one of the top teams in the series.
“With this strong position as a basis, we have realigned our works commitment for the coming season. I am more than confident that we can achieve our goals with the new structure, experienced team management, and works riders Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies.
“These goals are to firmly establish ourselves among the top teams at the pinnacle of production-based motorsport in the long term, and to claim as many wins and podiums as possible.”
Retaining the same GoldBet backing that established the BMW Italia bikes as two of the more distinctive machines on the 2012 grid, the eye-catching yellow and blue livery remains almost untouched, with the only noticeable difference coming in the form of the now-compulsory headlight stickers and 17-inch Pirelli tyres.