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BMW Italia to be sole factory team in 2013

BMW announces it is reducing its involvement in the 2013 World Superbike Championship by switching allegiance to BMW Italia and running just two factory-assisted bikes.

BMW Motorrad has announced that it will reduce its World Superbike Championship efforts in 2013 by slimming its current two-team structure to support just one outfit and handing factory priority to the current BMW Italia concern.

Joining forces with Alpha Racing, BMW Motorrad made its international track racing debut in 2009 with the all-new S1000RR and has made significant strides over the last three and a half seasons.

However, just as BMW is enjoying its most successful campaign to date having seen Marco Melandri notch up three WSBK victories this season, the German manufacturer has confirmed it will undergo a significant restructure for 2013.

The key change in this move will see satellite operation BMW Italia promoted to become the manufacturer's sole factory representative in 2013, leaving no room for the current factory-backed Alpha Racing concern.

A note in the issued press release read: "BMW Motorrad Italia will take responsibility for the factory race and test team as well as for chassis development. BMW in Munich will be entirely responsible for developing the power train and electronics."

Intended to make the structure 'leaner and more efficient', BMW Motorrad's Stephan Schaller insists BMW remains committed to the championship.

"Our decision represents a commitment by BMW Motorrad to motor sports. We have developed this commitment from a position of strength. The Superbike World Championship will continue to be the right platform for BMW Motorrad next year to demonstrate our expertise as a manufacturer of sports motorcycles in close proximity to customers.

"The new structure with the focus on one racing team is lean and efficient, the concept is targeted and logical. We are looking forward to being in a position to develop the existing structures in Munich and Milan."

"At this point, I would like to express my thanks to Bernhard Gobmeier who successfully restructured BMW Motorrad Motorsport and achieved the first victories in the Superbike World Championship. I am confident that he and his team will have celebrated more victories by the end of the season.

"Naturally, our decision will also exert an influence on our partnership with Alpha Racing. We have celebrated successes together and moved the team forward. We have a number of challenges ahead for the rest of the season and we will be working with Alpha Racing to master them in a dedicated and professional approach."

A surprise announcement, particularly given BMW's success in its current guise, the decision is set to put several riders' future plans in jeopardy. Melandri had been expected to stay on board with BMW after signing a multi-year deal, though it remains to be seen whether the announcement will render his contract null and void.

Meanwhile, Leon Haslam, Michel Fabrizio and Ayrton Badovini could find themselves battling over the remaining seats, while Carlos Checa is also believed to have shown an interest in joining BMW Italia for 2013 even before the announcement it would receive full factory backing.

Alternatively, the announcement could be seen as a prelude for BMW to confirm a move to the premier MotoGP series, though speculation of those plans have often been dismissed by the manufacturer.

The team name, the riders and the team management will be announced at a later date.

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