BMW re-focuses racing strategy -- on customers

Publish Date: 
May 31, 2014
By Bruce Steever

FONTANA, Calif. – In front of a gathering of Southern California dealers and their customers, BMW’s Parts and Accessories Manager Mike Hernandez outlined BMW’s new strategy to continue to support motorsports worldwide.

The gathering was the 2014 West Coast RR Fest at California Speedway, a special BMW-centric trackday organized by BMW Motorrad USA, Southern California BMW dealers and Fastrack Riders, and was itself part of the new direction for the brand.

One of the primary goals of motorsports involvement, at any level, is customer outreach. After BMW announced that it would be pulling the plug on the World Superbike race team in 2013, BMW racing fans and rabidly loyal S1000RR owners were concerned that the German OEM would cease any sort of motorsport involvement. Instead, BMW executives said the company will focus on better meeting customer needs while expanding its performance and motorsports involvement at a more grassroots level.

Also, BMW said it will still be working to provide direct support and know-how to privateer and professional teams racing the S1000RR and HP4.

To illustrate the new focus and motorsports plan, Hernandez presented a pyramid graph showing racing and motorsports at various levels of involvement.

At the top, unsurprisingly, is MotoGP and factory-level WSBK racing. In BMW’s eyes, there is a limited return on investment here, despite the worldwide exposure, because while BMW fans may enjoy watching the racing action, it can be argued that it does not directly affect or benefit the rider.

Below full factory efforts are factory-supported professional and private efforts in World Superbike, Supersport and Superstock, which BMW will continue to work with. But moving down the pyramid, BMW believes it offers wider and more direct benefit to its customers, with the next level being enhanced factory support for a range of national level championships such as AMA road racing. And below that are top-level privateer road racers in smaller national and regional racing series.

Finally, the base of the pyramid is the large number of owners that BMW qualifies as recreational motorsports riders, or “Racing4Fun,” around the world. These folks are the amateur road racers and trackday enthusiasts that are the primary customers for supersport motorcycles like the S1000RR, HP4 and related models, such as the new S1000R naked.

BMW’s intention is to better support the customer base, rather than focus dollars and manpower at the highest levels of racing.

With this new focus in place, BMW will provide three distinct pillars of motorsports involvement.

For racers and performance riders alike, BMW’s HP Race Parts Development will see additional investment for improved support and new accessory options. In addition to common parts such as rearsets and controls and exhaust and EFI upgrades, BMW offers an increasingly focused array of performance parts such as high-spec racing gearboxes, complete kit engines and advanced data logging tools.

To provide additional technical support for its customers, BMW will also ramp up customer service around its HP Race Parts line, complete with track-centric dealership support and a new direct troubleshooting e-mail line to BMW Germany for owners of HP Race Parts.

On BMW’s website, information about both the latest accessories is available and a dealer locator for stocking HP Race Parts dealers directs customers to dealers best able to serve their needs.

As an example of BMW’s new mission to provide enhanced customer experiences at local-level events, BMW Germany sent Powertrain, Thermodynamics and Data Engineer Thomas Von Westberg to the West Coast RR Fest to work directly with customers as they tried out demo telemetry units. Being able to work directly with a factory engineer is not just a cool story to tell to your riding buddies – Von Westberg was able to clearly and concisely manipulate the telemetry data to show riders how their riding interacted with the advanced electronics of the BMW S1000RR, and how to incorporate this feedback to improve the next riding session.

Few things are cooler than having an engineer explain how, why and exactly where on the track (thanks to GPS) the traction control system prevented you from crashing.

New worldwide racing competition -- see next page