Although it was only launched in 2006, BMW Motorrad’s cleverly designed and engineered F 800 sports middleweight machines have become firm favourites with lots of riders, many of whom are new to the brand. With its low-maintenance belt drive, high-torque engine, relaxed ergonomics and superb control, it’s no surprise that many motorcyclists - from sport riders and long-distance tourers, to freestyle world champion Chris Pfeiffer - have chosen the F 800 as their machine of choice.
Fast, light and exciting to ride, it was only a matter of time before the F 800 got its own race series, which begins soon in South Africa. ’Battle Of The Twins’ (BOTTS) is a popular class of racing that can be found in most national championships across the globe and Motorsport South Africa’s Northern Regions’ BOTTS championship comprises two classes: ’Supersports Twins’, which covers the larger-capacity superbikes; and ’Sports Twins’, which encompasses smaller-capacity machines - specifically those under 800cc.
With large grids, exotic machinery and the booming sounds of big twins battling it out, the formula is understandably one of the most successful classes of recent years. That success is to be reinforced in 2008 with the addition of a one-make race series within a championship - the F 800 Cup.
BMW Motorrad’s F 800 S is a user-friendly sports bike that is capable of racing against much more focussed machines, but for half the cost. Some riders, in their search for an affordable yet competitive way to go racing, have now discovered the potential of the F 800 S. Tests by existing racers, and specialist press reports have confirmed what a natural track athlete the middleweight parallel twin is - in fact, lap times have been as good as, and sometimes even marginally quicker than much bigger bikes.
As news of the bike’s performance has spread, as well as its suitability as a cost-effective tool on which to go racing, many riders in South Africa have bought F 800s, bringing about the birth of this one-make series. With so many F 800s heading for the 2008 regional grids it was inevitable that they would end up in their own championship.
Down in the Cape area F 800 riders will compete in the ’Superbikes’ category - against all other makes, but also within their own F 800 class. Up on the Highveld region the bike will also be part of its own one-make series within the ’Sports Twin’ category of BOTTS. During the course of the season a national title will be decided over four rounds - Kyalami, East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town - where the riders from the Cape and Highveld will get to go head-to-head for overall South African glory.
Because affordability is key to any one-make race series, BMW South Africa is offering an attractive deal to those intending to participate in the championship, with special prices available for a fully road legal F 800 S. It then needs to be prepared for the racetrack, with full fairing, race pipe, rear-set footpegs and crash bobbins.
BMW Motorrad South Africa’s Rob Barnes comments: "Although BMW Motorrad is not directly involved in the race series it fully supports the initiative of our Western Cape Dealers, Particularly Atlantic Motorrad. Their commitment to the sporting heritage of the BMW brand has ensured that the exciting F 800 S will be seen as a formidable motorcycle on South Africa’s racetracks".
The championships kick off this month and about 40 F 800 riders are expected at each round. Rumour has it that BMW Motorrad USA’s Nate Kern will also put in a guest appearance at one of the races, so let’s hope he can keep up with the locals, because the racing will be close, hard-fought and undoubtedly exciting!