What’s going on with Scott Redding and BMW? Honda move ahead

With just one pre-season WorldSBK test left at MotorLand Aragon, Scott Redding and BMW look to be in a precarious position after finishing way off the pace in Catalunya.
Scott Redding, BMW WorldSBK
Scott Redding, BMW WorldSBK

After leaving a manufacturer in Ducati that was a proven race winner in WorldSBK, Redding has taken the gamble of joining BMW in the hope that bike development within the German outfit can help him to become world champion. 

One of the reasons he chose BMW over Ducati, Redding had claimed a lack of development was an issue within the Italian team, as the current WorldSBK-spec Panigale V4 R has only seen small tweaks over the last few seasons, as opposed to a revolutionised change. 

Having a completely new bike, and one where a lot of room for improvement is therefore possible, the M 1000 RR is going into its second-ever competitive season. 

However, if last week’s two-day test at Catalunya showed us anything, it’s that BMW remains a long way away from challenging for consistent top five results. 

Redding struggled to find any pace relevant to the likes of world champion Toprak Razgatlioglu, Jonathan Rea and Alvaro Bautista, the man who replaced him at Ducati. 

But the big surprise was on day-two when both Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge were consistently quicker on the new 2022 CBR1000RR-R Fireblade.

Speaking after the test, Redding said improvements are being made, however, it’s difficult to really see where after all BMW riders struggled.

Redding added: "It was good to have two days of testing here in Barcelona. We have made some improvements with the bike and the electronics which is important for me and the team. 

"Then we had to try a few test items, tried the different tyres to get a feeling, tried again the electronics. We worked a lot and we did make some improvements which is good. But the goal post is always moving. You close the gap to the first one and then someone goes faster again. 

Scott Redding BMW Catalunya WorldSBK
Scott Redding BMW Catalunya WorldSBK

"But we have to look at our situation, what we are doing and how we are improving. That’s where we need to focus. Then we had some rain in the afternoon of the second day which was interesting. 

"It was good for me to get on the wet track and just get the feeling. It’s not too different from how it was in the past. I felt quite good. 

"We need to do a bit more with the set-up and stuff but the temperature dropped quite a lot so we decided to test some other parts, practice starts a bit more because I haven’t done many starts on this bike and then we improved which was good. We also tried some other things for the conditions. 

"In general, we did quite a lot but we still have more to do. We are moving on to Aragón, and I think we have some more things that we need to confirm there."

Are Honda now ahead of BMW? 

Although Redding eventually finished in front of Vierge, the former BSB champion was close to seven tenths away from Lecuona, suggesting BMW are in trouble to start the season. 

Of course, not having Michael Van Der Mark was a big loss for the team, but with that said, it’s unlikely the Dutchman would have shown a large increase in pace. 

On the other hand, Honda have seemingly made real strides forward after showing good pace in all conditions. 

A switch from Ohlins suspension to Showa has seemingly been a big plus for the team, while finding a better set-up with the electronics was a clear breakthrough during the Catalan outing. 

Xavi Vierge Honda WorldSBK
Xavi Vierge Honda WorldSBK

While unable to match the pace of Lecuona, Vierge still managed a top ten finish despite suffering his first fall for the team, which he called a 'real shame'. 

"The crash was a real shame and came at the end of what’s been a constructive testing session," added Vierge. "Friday we had the first good weather we’ve seen for a while and were able to make the most of it. 

"Montmelo is kind of a home track for me, but also a new track for me on the CBR, so the first goal was to build confidence with the bike and understand the areas where we need to work and improve the set-up. 

"We focused on those aspects and took some steps forward over the two days, getting into quite a good rhythm and collating a lot of information. 

"On Saturday afternoon the conditions worsened and after lunch the rain came. We took the opportunity to work on some rain set-ups and wet Pirelli tyres but unfortunately, I suffered a crash which has left me in quite a bit of pain. 

"I will start immediately with physiotherapy and rehabilitation so as to be back on track as soon as possible."

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