The 2009 Superbike World Championship promises to be more exciting than ever, with BMW Motorrad Motorsport making its debut in the ultra-competitive series and taking on no less than six other manufacturers, four Japanese and two European.
Although this is BMW's first attempt in World Superbikes, their racing heritage goes back 86 years, starting with their R 32 motorcycle in 1923. Since then BMWs have raced successfully on the Isle of Man and at other world-famous racetracks and have enjoyed many successes. The last success of the official BMW factory team was Walter Zeller's runner-up place in the 1956 World Championship. BMW officially returned to roadracing in 2007 with the HP2 Sports Boxer taking part in the Endurance Championship 24 hour classics in 2007 and 2008.
BMW's first ever 'Superbike' success took place at Daytona, USA, in 1976, when American Steve McLaughlin won the AMA Championship Superbike race in a thrilling photo-finish with team-mate Reg Pridmore. Both were riding R 90 S BMWs prepared by Butler & Smith, BMW's American importers. Back then the 'Superbike' class was a support race to the main event, but nine years later the first ideas for a Superbike World Championship (a world championship for production-based motorcycles) began to grow. The series was born in 1988 and since then has become the hallmark for close-fought, competitive racing, without sacrificing any of its friendly paddock atmosphere. It may be all-out combat on the track, but off it, it has an atmosphere unmatched by any other world championship.
BMW Motorrad have a very long history, but they are the 'new boys' of the Superbike World Championship. The company has decided to enter the series at, without a doubt, the hardest and most competitive time in its 21-year history. Any new manufacturer joining the series is going to face a tough time and BMW are under no illusions about the challenges ahead. BMW are entering World Superbike because it is a championship where fans and customers identify with the brand and the bikes. And fans will not have long to wait for the S 1000 RR roadbike from which the racebike is derived: it will make its public debut in early summer 2009.
Troy Corser, #11.
Ruben Xaus, #111.
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