The BMW Motorrad Motorsport team is preparing for the third race weekend of the 2011 FIM Superbike World Championship, which will be held from 15th to 17th April at the iconic “TT Circuit” in Assen (NDL). Assen is the capital of the Dutch province of Drenthe and is situated in the north-east of the Netherlands.
The team has reached another important milestone in the lead up to Assen: BMW Motorrad Motorsport now has exactly 500 World Championship points to its name since joining the FIM Superbike World Championship. This season, the two works riders Leon Haslam (GBR) and Troy Corser (AUS) have already picked up 69 points for BMW. In the Manufacturers’ Championship, for which only the best race result counts, BMW is currently in fourth place on 53 points. Leon finds himself in third place in the Riders’ Championship on 53 points with Troy in 13th place on 16 points.
During the break since the last race weekend in Donington (GBR) the team has been testing in Valencia (ESP). Information acquired during these tests has been used to develop solutions to allow Leon and Troy to take another step forward.
Both works riders have good memories of last year’s event in Assen. Troy’s third place on the grid was his second best Superpole result of the season. He finished both races in fifth place. This made Assen one of Troy’s most successful race weekends in 2010. Qualifying in fourth, Leon also started from the front row and went on to claim a podium finish.
“Assen is one of the circuits I really like. I have really enjoyed racing there. I think I have stood on the podium with every bike I have ridden there. For this reason I am really looking forward to it. I hope we can take another step forward and continue pushing at the front of the field.
The circuit has a unique layout. The most important thing in Assen is to find a good rhythm. You cannot simply push without thinking – that would actually slow you down. You have to use your head. BMW’s performance in Assen last year showed that the circuit suits the bike. Our goal is to build on what has so far been a good start to the season.”
“Assen is a fast and flowing circuit. You spend a lot of time leaning in bends, and the riders are subjected to enormous G forces. In Donington Park we had some issues, as our tyres did not give us enough grip. We are working on solving this issue, so that we do not have to cope with the same problems in the next race.
The circuit in Assen is known for its high speeds and some really fast changes of direction. For this reason it is very important to have the bike working well if we are going to battle at the front like we know we can.”
Bernhard Gobmeier, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director:
“Assen is a very interesting circuit for us, as it is very flowing. We gained important information from the race weekend in Donington and the tests in Valencia. In preparation for Assen we have used this to improve the areas, in which we still had problems.
The team has continued to work very hard in the break since Great Britain. I am very confident that we have taken another step forward and that Leon and Troy will be able to exploit the potential of the BMW S 1000 RR even better in Assen. We have already shown that we are capable of challenging for the top positions. Our goal now is to achieve this consistently.”
Even well beyond the borders of the Netherlands, Assen is known as a Mecca for motorcycle racing and has a long tradition for two-wheel enthusiasts. The first race was held there in 1925. Since 1949 there has always been at least one World Championship race in Assen, and the Superbike World Championship has stopped there every year since 1992. Assen has about 66,000 residents and is the capital of the Dutch province of Drenthe. It is about 180 kilometres north-east of Amsterdam and 30 kilometres south of Groningen.
Originally, road races led riders through the towns of Borger, Schoonloo and Grollo. In 1955 a permanent, 7.705 kilometre racetrack was built: the “TT Circuit Assen”. The circuit was specially tailored to the needs of motorcycle races. Some of its eleven left-handers and six right-hand corners are banked. The stands have space for about 100,000 spectators. Major modifications took place in 2006, when the length of the circuit was reduced to 4.555 kilometres.
The characteristics of the “TT Circuit Assen” allow the riders to adopt a very flowing riding style. The behaviour of the bike when turning into corners and accelerating is very important. The rest of the course can be ridden rhythmically. The handling when entering corners is of great importance when setting the bike up. In the penultimate corner, the bike must be stable before the brakes are called upon in the final chicane.
BMW works rider Troy Corser has claimed pole position in Assen on three occasions and has seven podium finishes at the circuit to his name. Team-mate Leon Haslam has made it onto the podium three times at the “TT Circuit”.