Michael Van Der Mark is the latest factory BMW hire. The Dutch rider has talked to WorldSBK about the upcoming season, and the first question was: why the move from Yamaha to BMW? Michael replies: “The decision wasn’t easy, but the main reason is the new M1000 RR. Already the S 1000 RR had a lot of potential, but the M should be a lot better. This is the reason why I chose to change manufacturer".
The news broke during the 2020 season, coming almost like a bolt out of the blue. Magic Michael outlines what happened: "Normally you speak with different teams during race weekends but I spoke with BMW when we were all in lockdown. It wasn’t really a difficult decision for me in the end, even though I couldn’t look at the results of other riders because we were just stuck at home.”
After initial contact between the parties at Estoril last autumn, the first shakedown took place in France. At the Miramas track, VDM was able to test his winged steed: “I think one of the biggest changes is the wings on the bike. I’ve been riding with and without them. You have to get a feeling with them and use them before you can really judge it. I think it’s really positive”.
Team Motorrad BMW SBK: a lot of work to do with Van Der Mark
The Dutchman is well aware of this and there’s much to do before the SBK championship even gets underway. Some of the details need work: “the Miramas track is quite small so it was difficult to get the perfect feeling with the bike, but we changed the handlebars, the seat, things like that”.
It is important to adapt to the M1000 RR. The former Supersport world champion knows this: "I can be really aggressive and I can be really smooth. We’ll need consistency. One thing the bike needs to do really well is stop because I like to brake late. The Yamaha stops really well, which is something we have to improve on the BMW, but the BMW turns more tightly than the Yamaha. Both have better and worse parts, so we need to pull them together”.
Translated by Heather Watson