The final team of our big six previews is the Spanish Althea BMW Team. In 2016, the Althea Racing Team made the switch from being the satellite Ducati team to the Factory BMW team, and with a few good results, the former champions want to return to winning ways now that they have a year of experience under their belt. Keeping to the same bike is crucial but keeping to the same rider line-up is just as vital. Could 2017 see the boys in black and white reach the chequered flag first?
The BMW Factory Team withdrew from competition at WSBK after their 2012 season, leaving the GoldBet BMW squad to be the lead team for the manufacturer. However, after their collapse, it is now the Althea Team who have some backing from BMW HQ. The bike itself is a weapon. It is one of the fastest bikes in a straight line and it handles superbly through the twisty parts of the tracks. However, one issue that has occurred is that throttle control is very difficult to manage. Tyco BMW and Hawk Racing BMW experienced that issue over in the BSB series, but different regulations at WSBK level mean that the issue isn’t as prominent for Althea.
Jordi Torres remains with the team for 2nd consecutive season. The Spaniard came to the championship in 2015 aboard a semi-factory Aprilia, and took his first win at Losail. Having endured last season with no win and no podiums, Torres will feel like he needs to get back where he belongs. A handful of 4th places helped him into 6th come the season’s end, but Torres knows he is top five material, and 2017 has to be the year where he is back up front.
Partnering the former Moto2 winner is double IDM champion, Markus Reiterberger. The German had a solid rookie year at World Superbike level on a bike that is hard to get to grips with. 16th in the championship doesn’t reflect some of the more successful rides that he had in the season, with a season best 5th at Buriram in Thailand. The 5th in Thailand proved that on a more less new circuit, Reiterberger is very fast indeed. Can the 22-year-old be a spoiler from the off in 2017?
As for circuits, Thailand was a very good circuit for the team last season, highlighted by the aforementioned Reiterberger and his 5th. Imola is one of Torres’ favourites, having taken his first ever podium at the track in 2015, and a 4th place last season. The last time a BMW won a WSBK race was at Portimao in 2013 with Melandri, and that very circuit returns after a year absence in 2017.
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Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko