Ever wondered what the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK factory riders do when they’re not out on track? For the riders, it isn’t just a case of turning up on a Friday morning and jumping on their S 1000RRs; there’s much more that they do behind the scenes that you may not be aware of. BMW Motorrad takes an exclusive look at what the riders get up to over a typical race weekend…
The race weekend for the riders begins on the Wednesday as they travel to the round, getting to the track in plenty of time allows for flight delays or cancellations and it also gives them time to relax before the main events of the weekend begin. “You don’t want to be arriving on a Thursday as there is too much to do,” says Chaz. “You talk with mechanics and get everything organised so Wednesday is the arrival day. It’s so important to get a good sleep on the Wednesday night as that is the last day of solid rest before having to be at the circuit early every morning.”
Marco Melandri also likes to make sure he keeps up his energy levels: “I arrive on a Wednesday as I like to sleep in the motorhome to give myself as much energy as I can for the weekend.”
This is when the race weekend really starts, with back-to-back meetings and media commitments for the riders. The meetings are very important to ensure the team are all working on the correct things and have the same aims for the weekend.
Marco agrees: “Mainly in the morning, I speak with the team and we make a plan for the weekend. We also have to look at the weather conditions that are forecast. It’s also when we see what we have to test and we set up how to start the race weekend.”
Chaz spends his Thursday morning stocking up on vital supplies: “On a Thursday morning I do a bit of food shopping for the basic stuff that I tend to keep in the race truck – that usually takes me up to midday.”
After that there is no rest for the riders as they attend media commitments, have interviews and see the fans at the race circuit during the paddock show. This is something that Chaz really enjoys:
“There is usually an autograph session in the paddock show and sometimes a media event. I like engaging with the fans and we try to do as much as we can throughout the weekend. We also sign autographs when the pitwalk is happening and go over to the BMW Motorrad hospitality unit to meet with the guests.”
Marco also likes the media events which usually signal the start of another busy weekend in World Superbikes: “Yes, we have a lot of fun during some of the media events, which always include interviews with journalists. It is sometimes very busy in the paddock, especially in Italy when they have the open day in the paddock. It’s not easy to move from the box to the motorhome or the hospitality unit. The passion for motorsport is growing all the time, which is great.”
Thursday evening is also very important for the riders as they take the opportunity to do laps of the track on their scooters. But why do they do this?
Marco explains: “I do laps of the track on the scooter to see if they have changed anything like the kerbs and if you remember any special bumps from previous races you need to check if they have changed any of the tarmac. It’s really just to have a look if everything is exactly how you remember it.”
This is another busy day for the riders and is the first time the guys will get out on track to try out their bike set-up and start their plans for the weekend. There is free practice around lunchtime and then qualifying practice in the afternoon, with a technical debriefing with the team on a Friday evening. The riders have a few media interviews in the afternoon too.
Saturday is the day that decides which row of the grid the riders will be on as they take part in Superpole. The riders have a timed qualifying practice in the morning, a free practice at lunchtime and the Superpole then usually takes place at 1500 (local time). But that’s not where it ends for the riders as there is often a ‘meet and greet’ with the BMW Motorrad hospitality guests during the evening, after which they head to yet another meeting with the team to discuss the events of the day and ways to move forward.
Race day. This is the day that the whole weekend has been building up to. There are three main sessions for the riders to think about: warm-up in the morning, race one and race two. Should the riders get on the podium then they head to the paddock show and take part in an interview for the fans and the TV stations.
Their final commitment is a technical debrief during the evening after the racing has finished, where they get down to the details and analyse exactly how the weekend has gone and what direction to take for the next race. However the riders don’t just simply pack up and leave after this is over.
I don’t like to run straight after the race, as we need to take time to make technical meetings to understand what we learnt during the race,” he says. “Sometimes I travel home on the Monday morning, as I like to stay after the race and spend time with the team.”
As you can see, the riders don’t get too much chance to relax – but what do they do when they get a spare few moments to themselves?
Marco likes to spend it with his team as much as possible, “I like to relax and watch TV but I spend a lot of time with the guys in the garage. Sometimes just by talking with them outside of ‘official meetings’, you can pick up many ideas. The schedule keeps us very busy though as we have fixed times to eat, for interviews, to get massages and of course, to race. When you get used to it, it’s OK but you don’t get a lot of free time.”
With a hectic life at the race circuit, both riders like to relax when they are at home, even though Marco and Chaz both admit that it usually involves motorcycles!
Marco: “In between rounds I tend to train at the gym. I like to ride motocross too but haven’t done that in a while because of my shoulder injury. I like an easy life actually and enjoy staying at home and meeting up with friends for dinner.”
Chaz: “When we aren’t testing between rounds I like to go home and relax. I spend my time with a combination of relaxing and training really, although it always involves bikes of some sort. I like to watch the races after the weekend too as you can always see ways to improve for the next round. I go to London sometimes too as my girlfriend lives there and we go out for nice things to eat. Then before you know it, it’s time to get ready to go to the next race!”
So there you have it, the jam-packed diary of a rider over a weekend. It’s sometimes easy to forget how busy they are when they’re not out on their RRs – sometimes it must be a relief to get their helmets on and just race!