There’s a feeling of the inevitable as Marc Marquez wins the Fastest Qualifier BMW for the 6th time. As the ‘Official Car of MotoGP’ for 20 years, the BMW M Award has been given to the fastest qualifying performance across each season since 2003. And for the past six years, that’s meant a new BMW added to the Marquez garage.
Motorcycle racers are legendary for their ability to use and abuse hire cars. But Marquez now has enough to start loaning out his own collection. For six consecutive years he has been awarded the latest in the BMW M range as a reward for his qualification achievements.
Given his success at the highest level of motorcycle racing, it’s no surprising Marquez has broken several qualifying records along the way. Since 2003, the BMW Awards have seen him become the first rookie to achieve it in 2013, the first rider to win three in-a-row in 2015, and first rider to achieve four awards in 2016. Considering he’s a five-time MotoGP champion at the age of 25, it might be wise to invest in a bigger garage for the future.
This year Marquez drives away in a new 2018 BMW M3 CS. Not necessarily a match for his Repsol Honda RC213V. But still the most powerful BMW M3 so far, with a 460hp M TwinPower turbo inline-six-cylinder engine achieving 0-100 kmh in 3.9 seconds. It’s got a 7-speed dual clutch transmission, adaptive suspension, full leather interior and 19 inch alloys.
“I can hardly believe that I have won the BMW M Award for the sixth time running,” said Márquez at the award ceremony at Valencia. “One year ago, I announced here that my objective for 2018 was to claim this sixth victory – and I have actually managed it. That makes me very proud. Now I can hardly wait to get behind the wheel of this fantastic BMW M3 CS. I want to thank BMW M GmbH for providing the BMW M Award as an accolade for the fastest qualifier. This shows special appreciation for us as MotoGP riders. The prospect of winning this prize provides even more motivation for us when qualifying starts on Saturdays.”
The BMW M Award is based on a points system allocated for the MotoGP qualifying each weekend. And the rider with the most points over the season gets a brand new BMW M series. Marc Marquez holds the record with six awards, followed by Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner who each received 3. Jorge Lorenzo is next on 2, and 1 award has gone to both Sete Gibernau and Nicky Hayden.
After three years, Casey Stoner and Ducati part ways. The Australian two-time MotoGP champion has been a test rider for the Italian firm since 2016, including developing the Desmosedici GP bike, and the Panigale V4.
Stoner has also appeared at various events as a Ducati brand ambassador, including World Ducati Week and other events. He originally rode for the team in 2007, taking the MotoGP title in his first year. And stayed with them until the end of 2010. After retiring from racing in 2012, he tested for other manufacturers and made a one-off appearance in the 2015 Suzuka 8 Hours before signing a deal with Ducati.
“Casey is and will always remain in the hearts of Ducatisti and it is also on their behalf that we wish to thank him for the important collaboration he has offered us over the last three years,” commented Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A. “His technical indications and suggestions, together with the work and the feedback of the factory riders and Michele Pirro, have helped to make the Desmosedici GP one of the most competitive bikes on the grid, and his advice for the development of our production bikes has been just as precious and useful. Ducati and its many fans wish to offer their sincere thanks and their best wishes to Casey and his family for a serene and happy future.”
“I want to thank Ducati for the great memories and especially the support and enthusiasm of the Ducati fans for our shared passion for racing and motorcycling, I’ll always remember this,“ added Casey Stoner. “Over the past three years I have really enjoyed doing my job with the test team, the engineers and technicians, as we worked towards improving the Desmosedici GP package and I sincerely want to wish the team all the very best for their future endeavours.”
After retiring at just 27 years of age, there has been constant speculation about whether Stoner might return to racing competitively. Or where he might contribute in 2019. There have been rumours that Alberto Puig has been keen for the Australian to test again with Honda, alongside Stefan Bradl. Stoner won his second world title for the Japanese factory and tested with them before his Ducati deal.
Meanwhile Ducati will get ready for 2019 with Andrea Dovizioso, new team-mate Danilo Petrucci and continuing test rider and occasional MotoGP wildcard Michele Pirro.