May 22, 2012
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Marco Melandri (left) and Leon Haslam (right).
United States of America Salt Lake City.
26th 28th May 2012
6th of 14 race weekends
Munich/Stephanskirchen, 22nd May 2012. Following the historic maiden one-two in Donington (GBR), Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport now travels to the USA. Round six of the 2012 FIM Superbike World Championship will be held at the "Miller Motorsports Park" near Salt Lake City on Whit weekend (26th to 28th May). The schedule for this event is traditionally moved back a day: race day is always the last Monday in May, "Memorial Day". As such, the riders will not take to the track until Saturday, with Superpole Qualification taking place on Sunday.
The first major triumph has given the team and factory riders Marco Melandri (ITA) and Leon Haslam (GBR) an additional boost. The performance in Donington confirmed that the team has closed the gap on the front-runners. It is now a case of backing up this claim. A new challenge awaits the team in the USA: the "Miller Motorsports Park" features a technically demanding layout and is located about 1,350 metres above sea level. At this altitude, the engine performance of the BMW S 1000 RR plays a particularly important role.
In the current 2012 season, Marco lies in fifth place in the Riders' Championship with 97.5 points, while Leon is sixth with 89 points. Together, the pair has already scored 186.5 points for Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport this year. In the Manufacturers' Championship, BMW is third with 131 points. Only the best result from each race counts towards this championship.
Salt Lake City from the rider's point of view:
"Miller Motorsports Park is a very nice race track. It is quite fast and smooth but not easy. Normally the track should suit my riding style well. At the moment, I don't want to expect anything special. I just want to take it one day at a time. This season has shown that the championship is very open and different riders can get to the top and win at every race. I just want to get 100 per cent out of my RR and myself, and then we will see how we are doing compared to our rivals.
The victory at Donington certainly gives us some extra confidence. Getting the first win on this bike was difficult because, although we tried not to think about it, we knew it would be the first victory for BMW Motorrad. This put extra pressure on us. Now we have got that monkey off our backs and are more relaxed and confident. This was the first win, but I am sure that there are more to come."
"Every weekend now we have been challenging for podiums and have been really close to the win, so we want to do the same in the USA. Last year, it was one of our worst race weekends and I am interested to see how the RR works this year with all the improvements we have made. One problem last year was that the conditions were changing so frequently, so it was not easy to find a fast set-up. We have been watching the forecast for this weekend. The weather looks like being good with temperatures possibly reaching as high as 30 degrees. So hopefully we are going to have some sun.
The circuit at Miller Motorsports Park is a mixture of many different things. For whatever reason, Carlos Checa's way of riding seems to suit this track. But I have finished second there before, so we know we can be strong."
Salt Lake City from a technical point of view:
Andrea Dosoli (Head of Race Operations):
"One of the characteristics of the Miller Motorsports Park is the unusual altitude, which affects the engine performance. However, the engine of our RR is strong enough that the loss of performance has no particularly negative effect on our bikes. Regarding the tyre wear, the track could be difficult for all the four-cylinder bikes. Last year, we had extreme wear due to the severe weather conditions. We are nevertheless convinced that, with the latest developments on our RR, we have also improved in this area. So we are looking forward to the US round of the 2012 championship, which has so far shown a well-balanced performance between the competitors. We definitely expect Carlos Checa to set the benchmark on this track, where he has won several times. But we believe that our riders will also be in a position to fight for the podium.
We are all highly motivated, especially after the one-two in Donington. And we are looking forward to getting back the points we lost in the last corner of race two of the British event."
Salt Lake City from Pirelli's point of view:
For the overseas round of the World Superbike Championship, Pirelli will provide the riders with two solutions for the front and three for the rear, in addition to the intermediate rain tyres. On the front they will be able to choose from an SC1 and SC2 compound, while for the rear there will be two SC1 compounds and one SC2. One of the two SC1 compounds is the R302 which had very good results in Donington and was very popular with almost all the riders. For this reason, at the request of the teams, Pirelli decided to bring it to Miller as well to see how it performs on this track where, besides the extremely long straight stretch, the variable weather conditions come into play. Yet another unknown factor is the salt and sand deposits on the asphalt caused by the nearby salt lake and the fact that the track is not used very often.
Set against a breath-taking backdrop, surrounded by Utah's mountains, lies the "Miller Motorsports Park". The capital of the US state, Salt Lake City, and the "Great Salt Lake" can be reached by car in about 30 minutes from the circuit. Salt Lake City was founded in 1847 by Mormons, who had fled the eastern states of America following religious persecution and discrimination. Since then, the city and the state of Utah have been the centre of the Mormon movement. Nowadays, Salt Lake City has a population of about 186,000 and hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 2002.
The "Miller Motorsports Park" was opened in 2006 and is one of the most modern motor racing facilities in North America. As well as the 4.907-kilometre racetrack, which can be used in several variants, the site also includes the "Larry H. Miller Museum" with its collection of spectacular racing cars, a karting centre, a racing driver school, and the "Performance Training Center", which offers driving courses to those interested. The Superbike World Championship has been visiting Salt Lake City since 2008. One of the peculiarities of the US round of the series is that the race is traditionally held on the final Monday of the month of May, "Memorial Day". On this national holiday, the United States remembers soldiers that have fallen in war. As a result, the race weekend schedule is put back a day and the first session is Saturday's free practice. This year, "Memorial Day" coincides with Whit Monday.
The circuit has over 20 turns and has a very technically demanding layout. The many changes in direction play a major role when setting the bike up and perfect handling is crucial in the corners. The teams also need to find a set-up that generates as much mechanical grip as possible, as the track surface itself offers very little grip. Tyre wear and the weather are always an issue with the bike set-up. The race weekend in Salt Lake City can be either red hot or so cold that it snows in the mountains around the circuit. The air is quite literally thin for the superbike engines. The "Miller Motorsports Park" is located about 1,350 metres above sea level, and this high altitude affects the performance of the engine.