The 2011 Superbike World Championship makes its second and final journey out of Europe this season for round five of the 13-round series, which takes place at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, close to Salt Lake City. Because of the Memorial Day weekend celebrations (held to commemorate U.S. soldiers who have died while in the military service) the two races will take place on Monday, rather than the usual Sunday slot.
The 4.907km Miller circuit presents many challenges to riders, including 24 turns, a start-finish straight of over one kilometre and the effects of the track’s altitude (1,347 metres/4,419 feet above sea level). However, the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team is full of confidence, especially Troy Corser, who scored a pair of fifth places there last year, but is now riding what he believes is a much improved RR in 2011.
“I would like to think that on the back of two solid results in Monza that we can really push on and go for the podium in Salt Lake,” said the veteran Australian. “Last year we had a few issues which held us back slightly, but now the RR feels a lot more balanced and I am hopeful we can do better this time round. It’s a circuit I enjoy riding; it’s quite technical and fast, and similar to Assen and Monza in some respects so for sure I am looking forward to getting out there and seeing what we can do. We are definitely in the lead group of riders now – we just have to make that next step and really push on for race wins.”
Corser’s team-mate, Leon Haslam is also in a confident frame of mind, having finished on the podium in last year’s corresponding round in the USA. Currently sixth in the points, the young Brit will be aiming for that coveted top spot at a circuit he enjoys racing at.
“Salt Lake is always a great place to go to race over in the US, especially on Memorial Weekend as there is a fantastic atmosphere. The circuit itself is quite challenging and the layout offers a good mix of everything. It is a circuit on which you have to fight and it is quite difficult to ride. That said, I enjoy going there and am pretty excited about racing the RR in Monday’s two races.”
With two determined riders and all the team personnel focussed on the shared objective of scoring a first ever WSBK victory for the RR, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Bernhard Gobmeier believes that it’s just a matter of time before all the ongoing development work will pay off and a BMW factory rider will enjoy standing on the top step of the podium. As such, everyone in the team is making the journey to the USA in a positive mindset, on the back of a successful recent test in Italy.
“Salt Lake is an interesting racetrack at a very high altitude. This could be an advantage for us, as we now have more engine power, so the altitude won't have that much influence on our performance. In the meantime we also did a lot of work on the chassis and we also had an encouraging outing at Misano, where we completed an extensive programme of testing. As such, we are travelling to the US with a lot of confidence.”
For BMW Motorrad Italia, the upcoming round at Miller Motorsports Park will mark a return to race action for James Toseland, who hasn’t been able to compete since the opening round of the 2011 championship at Phillip Island in Australia. It will also be the first time racing the RR Superbike in the USA for his team-mate Ayrton Badovini, but with a top six finish last time out at Monza, the ever-improving Italian is hoping to continue his successful transition to the premier class.
There won’t be any FIM Superstock 1000 Cup action from Miller Motorsports Park, as this championship is only staged at the European circuits. However, expect to see BMW race teams in action in the AMA Pro Racing support programme, as well as the four WSBK riders fighting for glory in the main event.
As ever, BMW Motorrad Motorsport fans can keep up to date with all the racing news, WSBK previews, qualifying and race reports on www.bmw-motorrad.com/superbike or by subscribing to the BMW Motorrad Motorsport newsletter at www.bmw-motorrad.com/newsletter