BMW announces WSBK withdrawal

BMW announces it will withdraw its factory support from the World Superbike Championship at the end of the 2013 season.
BMW Hospitality, Russian WSBK 2013
BMW Hospitality, Russian WSBK 2013
© Gold and Goose

BMW Motorrad has announced it will cease its factory involvement in the World Superbike Championship at the end of the 2013 season after less than five years in the top flight.

BMW made its WSBK debut in 2009 and has steadily developed into regular front runners, with Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies currently in contention for the 2013 WSBK title with five race wins between them.

The announcement that BMW Motorrad is withdrawing its factory involvement comes after an initial strategic realignment at the end of the 2012 season saw it switch from being an in-house operation to lending full support to the Feel Racing team, which competes under the BMW GoldBet Italia banner.

According to BMW, it is withdrawing from World Superbikes in order to concentrate on its core road bike market, though it does intimate that it will continue to provide support any subsequent customer programmes.

"BMW Motorrad Motorsport will end its involvement in the World Superbike Championship after this season", said Stephan Schaller, General Director BMW Motorrad, in a statement. "This is consistent with the strategic realignment of our brand. BMW Motorrad will now focus on the further expansion of the very successful product portfolio over 500 cc, the expansion of product segments under 500 cc, e-mobility and the development of market potential in emerging economies like Brazil and Asia.

"Only those who act consistently today are well prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. BMW Motorrad will remain involved in motorsport and in doing so we will focus on the international customer sport in all its facets. I want to thank everybody who has supported us on this long and successful journey."

Debuting in 2009 with the experienced Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus at the helm, BMW's maiden foray into Superbike racing with the S1000RR showed flashes of pace in the early years, even if it would take until 2012 for the manufacturer to break its victory duck with Melandri at Donington Park.

The momentum of that first win would see Melandri score a further five wins over the course of the season, lifting BMW into the title fight for the first time, though it would eventually finish third overall.

The decision to support the Italian-based Feel Racing team for 2013 appeared to yield few notable issues with new signing Davies scoring a double win at the second round in Aragon, while Melandri has won races at Monza, Portimao and - just this weekend - at the Moscow Raceway this year.

A bitter blow for Melandri, who was forced to seek new employment at the end of the 2011 season when Yamaha also announced a surprise withdrawal, the Italian has already hinted at a possible switch to Aprilia for 2014. Davies, meanwhile, will be seeking a third new team in as many seasons.

Despite this decision, BMW does suggest it will continue to endorse any subsequent customer programmes from 2014 onwards.

"BMW Motorrad Motorsport has run a successful worldwide customer sport programme for several years. From the beginning, customer teams and riders have celebrated numerous victories and titles in international and national championships with the BMW S 1000 RR.

"From the start of this season, some of them have also fielded the brand new DDC equipped BMW HP4, and celebrated several race wins. Details of the increased future commitment in customer sport will be announced in due course."

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