BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team boss Shaun Muir has outlined his reasons for going back to the brand in a three-year project and says the deal-maker was a conversation with Dr Markus Schramm, head of the firm’s bike division.
The project is fully factory supported with the bikes developed in Munich, engines built in Berlin and it all put together at Muir’s workshop in Guisborough with no less than eight BMW engineers on hand - one being ex-SMR employee Ian ‘Chunky’ Lord.
It will run under the legendary M Sport division of BMW and will not have a title sponsor as BMW want it in their own colours. And Dr Schramm told Muir that he will get anything he needs to win…
“The operation is a well-structured, factory-supported team. There is a group of eight engineers from BMW who will be responsible for all the material that has been put together over the last nine months or so,” Muir told bikesportnews.com this morning.
“So, we will be the official M Sport team, the reference team, the showpiece. They are working with some of their sponsors and some of my sponsors but it is an exciting time.
“We were quite a long way down the contract road with a title sponsor but BMW said they wanted to run it under their own colours because they’re getting rid of the HP designation and it will be in M Sport colours.
“I sat with Dr Markus Schramm in his office. He looked me in the eye and asked me what we needed to succeed. I said budget, the best available riders and a quick turnaround for parts. If we need parts, we can’t wait for them. He then said to me that is what we shall have. His points were very clear. That was a turning point for me.
“The level of the input so far is huge. People will be surprised I think when it tests for the first time. We are looking at a shakedown before Christmas but it’s not finalised as yet. Then more testing in January and February before we go to Phillip Island.”
Muir has history with BMW as they joined WorldSBK in 2016 with the German brand. Things didn’t go as well as Muir expected and he moved to Aprilia after one season - which turned out to be a challenge but this time it’s a different game.
“It is a big team, there are a lot of new guys working with me. Pete Jennings has come back to work with Tom, I’ve got some other new people joining and we are itching to get going,” Muir said.
“When we came to WorldSBK in 2016, BMW was the only achievable option. We probably underestimated the challenge but we built bikes as well as anyone could have built them.
“The reason for the move to Aprilia is well documented but after two years of total disappointment and challenges from day one, going back to BMW was simple. We were only a customer team with Aprilia, but the development was almost zero.
“We new what the new S1000RR was going to be early on in the year. What it looked like we weren’t sure but by the middle of the year discussions were very strong. We knew it would be a much higher level of support and the focus would be very much on winning.
“My team will work with them, we will build the bikes together and then it will be a joint development programme based at our workshop. It’s a proper partnership like it should be, Marc Bongers and I will work together and no stone will be left unturned - whatever we need to succeed, we will have it. It made the decision easy.
“The bikes are being developed in Munich, the engines are being built in Berlin and the whole package is being assembled in Guisborough.”
Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger will be the pilots. Reiterberger is a BMW man through and through, and has done a lot of the test work on the new bike. Sykes comes in after being ejected from Kawasaki in a decision that was made late on.
“I was talking to Eugene and not many others, Melandri came in late, Tom was very interested. It’s a three-year project, Markus has probably done a dozen test days on the bike already, he was a natural choice,” said Muir.
“The second rider was a BMW/SMR decision, BMW laid it on the line that we sign the fastest rider available and Tom was chosen. I was 50/50 but you can’t get away from Tom is a world champion, he has won a lot of races and set a lot of poles, so for me it was a decision to find hard not to agree with.”