There was endless jubilation in the BMW Motorrad Motorsport garage. When factory riders Marco Melandri (ITA) and Leon Haslam (GBR) crossed the finish line of race one at Donington (GBR), they gave BMW Motorrad its long awaited milestone — not only the first ever victory for the Bavarian manufacturer in the FIM Superbike World Championship, but also the first one-two win. While both riders were fighting at the very top from start to finish, it was Marco that took the honour of being the first winner on the BMW S 1000 RR. Leon completed the triumph being second, just 0.7 seconds behind the Italian. In a double interview, the two factory riders speak about this historic day.
Marco, in an exciting first race at Donington, you and Leon achieved the first ever one-two victory for BMW Motorrad Motorsport. What does this historic success mean to you?
Marco Melandri: “It is something really special. When I joined BMW Motorrad, my target was to help to make the RR a winning bike and to get the first victory ever and this is what we, the team and the people at the factory achieved. I have to thank all the people involved in the project; the management of BMW Motorrad, the race department and the people at the track, just to name a few. We had some difficult times, but we never gave up and were very focused on our job. We concentrated on progressing step by step and now I am very proud that my name is in the BMW history book.”
What were your feelings and thoughts during the last laps and especially when you were crossing the finish line?
Marco Melandri: “It was unbelievable. So many things were going around in my head. I was thinking about all the people in Germany who were watching the race on TV, all my family, all the team members. I was thinking of the time from my first test on the RR in winter until now. It is difficult to explain. I had so many thoughts and emotions in that short period of time.”
Leon, during the whole season, the team constantly made progress with you and Marco consistently in the top positions. Was it just a question of time that this double victory would come — and what was the key to that success?
Leon Haslam: “We have made great progress from last season. From the first test onwards, we had made a lot of improvements to the bike. Since then, with the new team structure and staff, we have improved race by race so for me it was just a matter of time to get the result.”
Marco, has the team now reached a level where it can be competitive at every race weekend?
Marco Melandri: “I think that we have a very good level but now it is going to be even more difficult for us. To reach the top is difficult but to stay at the top is an even bigger challenge. Our rivals are waiting and will try to beat us. We are aware of the challenge and know that for sure we will have some difficult races but we are very focused. We want to stay at the top.”
Leon, in the second race at Donington you were only a few metres away from your home victory, when you were robbed that dream result in the last corner. We know you are a fighter — does this give you even more motivation to get your first win on the RR as soon as possible?
Leon Haslam: “Donington was very disappointing for me. We could have had two victories there. Assen was another missed opportunity for the win. But yes — this makes me even more determined and confident. We can still win this championship. We just need some luck.”
And a question to both of you: What are your targets now for the rest of the season?
Marco Melandri: “To continue having fun and to do my best. The championship still has a long way to go — and it is very open. We have to think from race to race and to always try to get maximum points, because we need to follow the top guys in the championship. We need to catch up the points that we lost in the last corner of the second race.”
Leon Haslam: “My target as always is to give 110 per cent and to try and win as many races as possible to try and get the championship for BMW Motorrad.