“It’s still a long Championship but we can fight for a title” – Gonschor dares to dream after BMW success

The swings and roundabouts, fun and games of the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship are hurtling for the United Kingdom and Donington Park for the fifth round of the season but it was the last round at Misano in Italy that proved historic too. BMW lead the Championship for the first time in 12 years after Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) made it a first-ever triple for the German manufacturer in Ducati’s backyard. Moreover, it was four consecutive wins – picking up from Assen’s Race 2 – as well as six wins in the last nine races or even 50% of all races in 2024. We spoke to BMW technical director Chris Gonschor to find out all about just how it’s been made possible.

MISANO BY EMOTION: “From the test, it was clear that Bulega and Toprak are playing another game”

“For sure, it was a historic weekend with three wins,” began Gonschor, somewhat modestly. “At Misano, I think it’s also a special place to get three wins. Our competitors have been incredibly strong here in recent years, so it was very hard to come here and to predict how the pace would be. From the test, it was clear that Bulega and Toprak are playing another game than some of the others. So, we were prepared after the test days here at Misano and we got some good data for the race pace. When you look backwards at the FP1 of Toprak, you see he started with a small issue with the quick shifter. He had about a ten-minute wait, then he headed back out and we all got a red flag. So, we couldn’t do a lap, and then his first chrono lap was a 1’33.7s, which proved that the package and the rider here at Misano are on a very good pace. Therefore, the outcome of the historic triple is extremely nice. It was not predictable but the indications were there that the package is working. We were very strong in the last tracks, so all the work that the guys here and the team in Munich have done has led us here.”

LEADING THE STANDINGS: “Yes; we can fight for a title”

Speaking of the achievement to be leading the standings, Gonschor said: “It’s very good. I think Toprak will be very happy and he will enjoy. It’s good to see the rider in front, but it would be nice to see other riders in front, fighting for some good results at the end, especially also Mikey. He had good pace in several stints and also in the sectors but in the end, it’s a competitive Championship and it’s hard to get it all together. We are all together in a good direction and I’m convinced that the other riders will come back to fight for the podium soon. The pace of Mikey was definitely closer than the result, the same for Garrett and Scott. Yes, it’s a hard season, but I am sure that, at a certain point in the season, now going to Donington and Most, that they will benefit from the bike package.”

“It’s good to see it back on top. Like we said half a year ago, last time we were on top was with Melandri in 2012. It’s good to be back there with this brand, and it shows that this is a strong brand, and that the decision taken last year in Munich to change the organisation structure, development, research, to go one level higher was the right one and now everything has come together, and yes, it’s still a long Championship, but we can fight for a title, and it’s a good position.”

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER: the behind the scenes improvement of R&D

On track performances have showcased that hard work away from the track has also paid off: “At the end, it’s not only about parts – it’s about collecting data and knowledge. And with the establishment of the Test team, and also an increased number of engineers working on simulations, you collect much more deep-dive information, and this Championship is now so competitive that you need every small detail to get the perfect package together. It’s not a number of facts that was changed or just new parts; at the end, it was just really that you create a big base of information to come to the race weekend better prepared, and to not be in the position that you have to develop or judge a bike’s setup on race weekend. The race riders can then concentrate on race weekend, and from FP1 onwards they can just attack; this is a big step forward.

“For us, it’s definitely a step forward to make the team more data-based, more engineer-based. But also, having more technicians and mechanics in the test team…you get more input from a human point of view, but also from a technical point of view and data. Just look at the times, it’s really getting faster and faster. The times that Bulega and Toprak did were incredible. So at this level of performance on track, you need a good data base, and this is definitely helping.”

NEXT UP, DONINGTON PARK: “5 or 6 tracks in a row where Toprak can fight for the podium, or perhaps even more…”

Setting expectations high for the upcoming rounds, we’re coming into real ‘Toprak territory’, starting at Donington Park: “I think honestly now, we can expect to fight for the podium on every track, because looking backwards, we proved it already at Phillip Island, Assen and Barcelona. Assen and Barcelona were hard tracks for Toprak in the past, and also hard tracks for us, so now we have 5/6 tracks in a row where Toprak can fight for the podium, or perhaps even more. So, I don’t think there is any need to be scared. But you must be prepared for every track. I think we are good prepared for nearly every racetrack to at least have a strong pace. What the outcome of race weekend will be, you never know. I think our colleagues will come back, and I am sure Bulega and Bautista will be strong at Donington and Most. We have seen a lot of good battles in the past between the red bikes and the blue bikes, so I think it can be an interesting season for the customers to watch.”

2024 IS UNMISSABLE: enjoy all the stories, drama, emotion and racing with the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *