The World Superbike championship promises to bring new excitement for 2016. New bikes, and above all, new riders are adding an international flavor and much more interest to the series. WSBK had already gained a top-flight American rider, with Nicky Hayden joining the Ten Kate Honda team, but now they have a top Australian rider as well.
Today, the Milwaukee team run by Shaun Muir announced they will be making the switch from the BSB championship to World Superbikes, taking reigning BSB champion Josh Brookes along with them. Brookes had been angling for a ride in WSBK for a couple of seasons now, but with the Milwaukee team moving up, the choice was made very simple. Brookes was very impressive throughout his 2015 BSB campaign, lifting the title by a comfortable margin, despite the tortuous Showdown process used by BSB to settle the title.
Brookes will be joined by Karel Abraham, the Czech rider leaving the MotoGP paddock now that the AB Racing team have withdrawn from the premier class. Abraham is a Moto2 race winner, and spent the last five years riding a motley assembly of machinery in MotoGP.
The biggest change for the Milwaukee squad is a change of equipment. The team won its BSB title on board Yamaha's new R1, Brookes proving the bike could be competitive right from the off. When Yamaha announced they would be returning to World Superbikes in an official capacity, Shaun Muir's Milwaukee squad were in the frame to run the team for a long time, losing out in the end to the Crescent Racing outfit who had until then been running Suzukis. That occasioned a switch to BMW, Milwaukee running with strong support from the German manufacturer in 2016. That the BMW S1000RR should be competitive next year was demonstrated at the test last week at Jerez, where the Althea BMW team posted fast times with Markus Reiterberger and Jordi Torres.
BMW's involvement in both the Milwaukee and Althea squads offers an interesting insight into their approach to racing. Although they announced that they were withdrawing from WSBK as a factory effort at the end of 2013, they have been very closely involved with private teams ever since. Milwaukee will receive support with engines and electronics from BMW, with the German manufacturer supplying personnel to help the team get the best out of the bikes. This approach has allowed BMW to achieve some level of success in the past at a much reduced cost, and with a much lower risk for the brand. With the Althea and Milwaukee teams, BMW have a strong chance of garnering success from World Superbikes without much risk.
Below is the press release from the Milwaukee BMW team:
Brookes and Abraham join Milwaukee BMW in World Superbikes for 2016
Reigning British Superbike Champion Josh Brookes and former MotoGP star Karel Abraham will take to the World Superbike grid next season as team-mates in the new Milwaukee BMW team.
Both Brookes and Abraham will ride BMW S 1000 RRs built by Shaun Muir Racing and backed by Milwaukee Power Tools after a three-year extension to their title partnership deal was agreed.
BMW Motorrad Motorsport will provide support and technical know-how, and its experts will work alongside the team throughout the whole season, along with engines and electronics. The team will be responsible for the development of the bike during the season, and manage the sporting and logistical aspects of its participation in the series.
Australian Brookes last raced in World Superbikes nine years ago and is looking forward to going back on to the global stage to race against the best Superbike riders on the planet.
“I’m excited to be back in World Superbikes and to go there with the same team I won the BSB title with is perfect. I haven’t raced a BMW before but the bike and factory are proven, and I am certain it will be competitive,” said Brookes.
“Having the support of BMW Motorrad Motorsport is crucial to our efforts and having their experts on site with us will be a big help. We will test early in January before heading to Phillip Island and I am looking forward to riding in front of my home fans.”
Czech Republic rider Abraham spent the last five years in MotoGP, scoring points regularly, but sees WSBK as the next stage in his career.
“Moving to World Superbikes with a team like Milwaukee BMW is hugely exciting. It will also be a challenge as I haven’t ridden a Superbike and a lot of the tracks will be new but I am sure that we will be able to get up to speed quickly,” said Abraham.
Team principal Shaun Muir concluded: “As a team, the support and enthusiasm shown by BMW Motorrad Motorsport was hugely confidence-building. They know exactly what we need to be competitive and the level of backing has made our decision to join them much easier.
“I am incredibly impressed with the amount of technical support we will have and it bodes well for a great debut season in World Superbikes.”