BMW are going racing, and in typical German fashion, they’re not going to do it by halves. The company dangled some fascinating tidbits of information in front of us with the official unveiling of its S1000RR Superbike in Germany yesterday. Reinforcing BMW’s commitment to taking the bike WSBK racing in 2009, the covers came off the carbon-festooned race prototype - and BMW Motorrad General Director Hendrik von Kuenheim’s presentation answered a few questions once and for all.
Firstly, it’s going to be an inline 4, making around 190hp and weighing about 190kg. “In the early project phase,” said von Kunheim, “we checked out various engine concepts. And as you know, we then decided in favour of a four-cylinder, with the straight-four offering the best qualities to meet the power, performance, weight, and package requirements to be fulfilled. In typical BMW style, the engine will of course offer a number of special features, especially on the cylinder head.”
Hmm… What special features could we see on a cylinder head… Might we be talking about pneumatic valves, lifted from BMW’s very experienced F1 racing development team? Ducati’s active valve technology has already caused upset and embarrassment for opposition teams in MotoGP, could the extra top-end power and revs make the difference in Superbikes too?
Perhaps sadly, the S1000RR won’t be appropriating any of BMW’s forward-thinking front-end suspension technologies, instead relying on a traditional telescopic fork: “For package reasons we have decided against the BMW Duo-Lever on the suspension. Taking up more space, this kind of front-wheel geometry would have presented disadvantages with the very compact structure of BMW’s new Superbike.” Pity really - BMW are the only major manufacturer that’s producing viable alternatives to the telescopic fork, and it would have been good to see them proven in the heat of competition.
Finally, like this year’s ZX-10R, it appears traction control will make an appearance: “you can be sure that the innovations we are introducing are absolutely convincing. One example is the special traction control you will find on the new machine. Again, however, we cannot give you any further information today.”
While traction control is possibly a necessary evil as roadgoing bikes reach for stratospheric power-to-weight levels and prices that teenagers can afford, it’s almost a sad thing to see these systems coming into Superbike racing - particularly given the negative effects such technology has had on the spectacle of MotoGP racing in the last few years.
BMW will definately be racing WSBK in 2009: “Today I can confirm that our preparations are proceeding according to plan in every respect: In compliance with the rules of the Series, the new motorcycle will be available to customers in 2009 and we will build 1,000 production models by the end of next year.”
“Naturally, we will have to go through a certain process of learning – which is precisely why we have set ourselves realistic targets for the time being: In our first year in the Superbike World Championship we seek to bring home several places in the Top 10 and to consistently close the gap to the top teams. In year 2 we plan to catch up with the top teams and to win our first places on the podium. And our medium-term objective, obviously, is to win the World Championship!”
And so we wait; with the 2008 season still just beginning, the 2009 series is shaping up to be a genuine cracker. BMW’s new bike will be competing with the 1000cc V4 Aprilia, the KTM RC8 1200cc v-twin, this year’s ZX-10R, Ducati 1098R and CBR Fireblade, as well as presumably new and uprated offerings from the barnstorming GSX-R and R1 families. As MotoGP grids shrink under huge cost pressures, it seems WSBK is undergoing a very exciting expansion phase. Bring it on!leave a response, or trackback from your own site.