2010 Superstock 1000 champion Ayrton Badovini making progress with the BMW Motorrad Italia World Superbike team
Ayrton Badovini is now paired with Roamin’ Roman crash machine Michel Fabrizio, who is slowly making his way down the list of bikes in the WSB paddock. From Honda supersport to Honda superbike via factory Xerox Ducati bikes, Alstare Suzuki to BMW Italia, Fabrizio has been there and crashed it too. It seems wrong to say that Fabrizio has replaced James Toseland at the team, but that is effectively what has happened, though JT’s old crew chief Gerardo ‘Dino’ Acocella is now working with Badovini.
Fabrizio strikes unfamiliar ‘upright’ pose
At the final test of the 2011 season, Badovini and Dino seemed to make progress quickly enough, ending a three-day outing at Portimao with the joint-fastest time, with new BMW Motorrad Germany rider Marco Melandri – 1.42.5 on qualifying tyres.
We ‘worked’ in the BMW Italia team at Silverstone last year; when we asked Dino what had changed since then, he started at the front and worked backwards. “There are new factory forks, new triple clamp and bars, a new petrol tank – we used the standard one last year – a new sub-frame, a new swinging arm, new firmware and improved electronics. And the engine spec we have now is much closer to the one used by the German team. Last season we were two or three engine development stages behind, this season the plan is that we will be much closer in terms of engine development to the factory-backed German team.”
The team didn’t shilly-shally, and basically built a 2012-spec bike for Badovini and put him out on it from day one. True, there was a 2011-spec bike in the garage too, but it wasn’t getting a lot of love or attention, and Badovini spent most time on the new bike. “I felt happy with the bike very quickly. For sure there were setup issues because the weight distribution of the bike has changed and the suspension is new, but this year the big difference is that we have a lot more experience with the bike, we have a year of data.” And, added Dino, “We have a good rider, the most important component on the bike is the rider and Ayrton has more experience and more confidence for this season.”
There’s little doubt that the senior management at BMW is putting more pressure on the teams to get results in the 2012 World Superbike Championship, and the distribution of parts and engines to the Italian team is clear evidence of that.