Sunday, October 3

BMW SPLIT: TARDOZZI GONE!

By MICHAEL ESDAILE

REPORTS of a major split inside the BMW factory Superbike team appear to have been confirmed with an official announcement from the team that team manager Davide Tardozzi has departed - after less than one year of a three year contract.

According to the official story, "BMW Motorrad Motorsport and Davide Tardozzi have agreed to part company by mutual consent with immediate effect."

The Director of BMW Motorrad Motorsport, Berthold Hauser, said: "With his wealth of experience Davide has been a great help to us this season in his role as Team Manager. However, he and the team had different ideas regarding the structure of the team. We would like to thank Davide for his contribution to a good partnership and wish him all the best for the future."

Tardozzi raced for Bimota in the inaugural year of the Superbike World Championship and led the points chase into the final round at Manfeild. However he crashed on the wet warm-up lap for the first race, was unable to take his place on the grid in time and watched as Fred Merkel took over.

After he retired from racing, for for many years Tardozzi was team manager of the highly successful Ducati factory Superbike team before surprising everyone late last year with his announcement that he was quitting because he wanted "new challenges."

It was a month or so later that it was announced that he would join the factory BMW Superbike squad and take over the role of team manager there.

Previously this had been handled by Reiner Baeumel, who also looked after the technical direction of the team.

This year Baeumel has focussed on the further development of the bikes while Tardozzi has overseen the race operations - a mix that from the outside seems to have worked, with the team's results improving as the year has gone on.

The first insight that things may not all be rosy inside the BMW team came from a report in German language publication Speedweek in late September that the team was having a clear-out of mechanics and management, ridding themselves of the non-German members of the SWC crew.

It was reported that BMW was unhappy with Tardozzi, despite the Italian having been instrumental in improving the results for the German team.

The remainder of the team is still under contract for the final race in France, but Speedweek reported that the non-German crew members were threatening to mutiny. As of September 29 they had not received offers of a new contract for 2011, amidst complaints by BMW that the non-Germans were not present at team HQ often enough, the team also threatening not to pay their outstanding salary over the issue, according to Speedweek.

Speedweek also predicted that Tardozzi would not be present at the final round of the championship at Magny Cours, and this has now been confirmed.

People close to the former-rider talk about an untenable situation which convinced the Italian to suddenly walk away from the team. From the brief comment Tardozzi has made, it seems that up until recently at least, his plans were to fulfill his BMW contract.

"I still don't know what I will do next year. I really don't know, " was the only thing he was willing to say.