Michael van der Mark's move to BMW will certainly be one of the most interesting aspects of the upcoming SBK season. The Dutch rider, in fact, left Yamaha after four years and in 2021 he will be lining up alongside Tom Sykes on the new M 1000 RR which, obviously, he can't wait to race with.
"I think the main reason I joined BMW is the new M 1000 RR - said Van der Mark in a Facebook live stream on the German manufacturer's social media channel - It was a difficult decision but this made it a bit easier. It looks really promising and I think for the future the bike has a lot of potential already. The S 1000 RR already had a lot but the M should be a lot better. "
Van der Mark, as we mentioned, has moved from Yamaha to BMW this year. What will be the main difficulties in adapting for his riding style?
"I can be really aggressive and I can also be very smooth, so I feel like I’m a bit of a mix. For me one thing that the bike must really be able to do well is to stop because I like to brake hard and late but the bike really needs to help me as well with this. If it does that, I feel quite good already. The Yamaha stops really well and this is something we have to improve on the BMW but the BMW turns really tight compared to the Yamaha. Both have better and worse parts, so we need to put them together!”.
Regarding the negotiations, he then confirmed that it had been very strange to talk to a manufacturer remotely, given that the agreement was signed before everyone returned to the track.
“It was a strange situation as you normally speak to different teams during the race weekends. I spoke with BMW when we were all in lockdown. It was a bit strange but it wasn't a really difficult decision for me at the end. Normally you look at the races, the results of the other riders and speak a little with them during race weekends. But at that time we were just stuck at home ".
The 2021 season has already begun for the Dutch rider as he was able to get a first taste of the BMW M 1000 RR in Miramas, France on a circuit owned by BMW.
"One of the biggest changes is the wings on the bike. I've been riding with and without them, even in Estoril where it makes a massive difference in the handling of the bike. It’s something you see now on nearly every bike but you have to get a feeling with them and use them first before you can really judge them. I think they make a rider's life a little easier since the bike runs less. This makes the biggest difference. To be honest the Miramas track is quite small so it was difficult for me to get a perfect feeling with the bike. We changed some handlebars and stuff like that. Now we are all set up to start the first test, with a good feeling on the bike and the handlebar position, everything is ready".
For 2021, there will be a total of three BMW teams on the starting grid, as the factory team will be joined by Bonovo MGM Action and RC Squadra Corse, who will field Jonas Folger and Eugene Laverty respectively.
“It's good to have two more BMWs on the grid, especially with development. I think it's more important to have two really fast riders like Eugene Laverty and Jonas Folger, two guys with a lot of experience. It’s good for the championship to have them and have two more BMWs for the entire project, as well as for the development of the bike and for making steps quicker. "