BMW announced it will withdraw its factory support from the World Superbike Championship at the end of the 2013 season.

According to BMW, the company will concentrate on its production models including the addition of new small-displacement models and reaching developing markets. BMW Motorrad will also shift resources to other motorsports activities such as supporting customer racing efforts in both international and domestic competitions.

“BMW Motorrad Motorsport will end its involvement in the World Superbike Championship after this season,” says Stephan Schaller, general director of BMW Motorrad. “This is consistent with the strategic realignment of our brand. BMW Motorrad will now focus on the further expansion of the very successful product portfolio over 500 cc, the expansion of product segments under 500 cc, e-mobility and the development of market potential in emerging economies like Brazil and Asia. Only those who act consistently today are well prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. BMW Motorrad will remain involved in motorsport and in doing so we will focus on the international customer sport in all its facets. I want to thank everybody who has supported us on this long and successful journey.”

The German manufacturer first entered the series in the 2009 season after introducing its S1000RR sportbike. Over four and a half seasons, BMW has recorded 11 wins and 33 podium finishes with seven rounds remaining in the 2013 season.

The announcement was a surprise, but there were signs it was coming. After finishing second in the manufacturers championship in the 2012 season, BMW restructured its WSBK program, moving control of the factory race team to its Italian branch, BMW Motorrad Italia.

“The team is a very professional and motivated group of people and I am sure they will continue to do everything to end the season on a high note,” says Andrea Buzzoni, general manager of BMW Motorrad WSBK. “2013 is a good year, the atmosphere within the team is great and also our riders, Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies, are doing an excellent job. We are satisfied with the current results and, of course, we will keep working hard. Therefore I am convinced we can celebrate more successes with Marco and Chaz as the season goes on. I am sorry about the decision, but I understand the strategic decision making of the company. I want to thank all the people who are involved in this project.”

Oddly, this news makes it the third time since 2009 that a factory team with Melandri on the payroll announced its withdrawal from a world championship. In 2009, Kawasaki announced its withdrawal from the MotoGP championship mere months after signing Melandri to a contract. Two years, later, Melandri landed with Yamaha‘s WSBK team replacing Cal Crutchlow. In August of that year, Yamaha announced it would withdraw its factory effort in the series.

[Source: BMW]