While this decision sees the factory step away from its full commitment to the series, its backing for the Italian team means the manufacturer will still be represented on the grid. However, with both the Factory and Italia teams showing well in 2012, this will mean less factory-supported BMWs on the grid, and some leading riders and mechanics looking for work.
Stephan Schaller, Head of BMW Motorrad, said: “Our decision represents a commitment by BMW Motorrad to motor sports… The Superbike World Championship will continue to be the right platform for BMW Motorrad next year to demonstrate our expertise as a manufacturer of sports motorcycles in close proximity to customers. The new structure with the focus on one racing team is lean and efficient, the concept is targeted and logical.”
This represents a similar move made by Ducati when it withdrew the factory team and supported private teams in WSB in order to concentrate its efforts on the struggling MotoGP effort. However, it begs the question, what will Ducati do in 2013 with an uncompetitive MotoGP bike but a very competitive superbike, especially now Audi is the new owner and would like nothing better than to beat BMW…
BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Bernhard Gobmeier said: “This is a strategic corporate decision by BMW Motorrad. This step means that BMW Motorrad will continue to participate in motor sports at a professional level.”
With BMW stepping back from its full commitment to the series, will we see its blue and white roundel in MotoGP in a few years? Has this moved allowed them to concentrate on other programs, or is it a move to save money to spend on its new DTM commitment, for example?
Many questions are left unanswered and we’ll try to find some answers. However, one thing looks certain, that Marco Melandri will transfer to the Italian team, but British rider Leon Haslam appears to be looking for a new seat. However, there are online rumors that Melandri will be joined by American Ben Spies, which seems far-fetched at this time but we’ll watch with interest. There might be some other MotoGP riders looking for seats at the end of the year as well, so let’s see how big the salary budget is for the Italian team.