If you’ve had your heart set on a particular piece of BMW World Superbike swag, you’d better get out your credit card fast. BMW Motorrad says it’s ending factory involvement in the World Superbike Championship at the end of the 2013 season. It’s unclear whether BMW will continue to support the Italy-based Feel Racing Team, which races as BMW GoldBet Italia.
It seems an odd time to pull back from WSBK, with BMW riders Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies fighting it out for the title with five wins each so far this season. But the company has long-term plans that take precedence over racing. “BMW Motorrad will now focus on the further expansion of the very successful product portfolio over 500cc, the expansion of product segments under 500cc, e-mobility, and the development of market potential in emerging economies like Brazil and Asia,” said Stephan Schaller, General Director BMW Motorrad.
BMW factory participation in World Superbike dates back to 2009 when Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus took to the track on the S1000RR. It wasn’t until 2012 that BMW scored its first win, at Mallory Park with Marco Melandri aboard.
BMW’s withdrawal is a blow not only to fans of the roundel, but to the World Superbike Championship itself, which has struggled to find teams, sponsors, and fans in recent years.