Von Kuenheim: BMW Must Start Winning in WSBK Before Entering MotoGP
MotoGP racing may be the next logical step for BMW, says Hendrik von Kuenheim, general director of BMW Motorrad.
Von Kuenheim was speaking at a press launch for the BMW C600 Sport and C650GT scooters but took a moment to discuss racing with MotoGP.com. Such speculation about BMW entering Grand Prix racing may sometimes be dismissed as idle musings, but the fact the interview was with MotoGP’s official website holds some significance.
But before it can step up into the MotoGP World Championship, BMW must first demonstrate it can produce a winning race bike at the World Superbike level. BMW has been competing in the WSBK championship since 2009 when it introduced the S1000RR. In three full seasons of competition however, the BMW S1000RR has yet to win a race in the series.“We haven’t won in Superbike yet, but we are close. Once we win we will move onto bigger and better things,” von Kuenheim tells MotoGP.com “MotoGP is the most watched motorcycle racing in the world. Next to F1, it is the benchmark for motor racing. But if you look at individual races and the number of spectators attending, such as in Jerez or Assen, there is no race in F1 in the world that even comes close to the number of spectators. So it’s a clear platform for us and we have to think about it. It’s a substantial step.”
While BMW doesn’t have an entry in the MotoGP championship, there will be one entry with some BMW DNA in it. The Forward Racing team is entering this year’s championship as a Claiming Rule Team entry with a Suter motorcycle powered by an engine based on the S1000RR’s Inline Four. Based on pre-season testing results, it looks like CRT entries have a ways to go before they can compete against the factory prototypes, but Forward Racing does have the advantage of an experienced rider in Colin Edwards.
The CRT squads will be under intense scrutiny this season, and the Forward Racing Team especially will be carefully observed by the Bavarians.
“We are going to see how Mr. Suter does, as this is his initiative. Obviously he gets some support from BMW, but it is his project. It will be interesting to understand watch how it goes and to see the potential of his project,” says von Kuenheim. “I believe with the new rules and regulations that have come into effect now, our engine, with the bore as well as the one liter displacement, is very suited to MotoGP racing. But racing is expensive, so we have to think about it!”