Positive Start To Opening Round For Pata Yamaha
In relatively cool and completely dry conditions the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team got its 2017 season underway with two 60-minute practice sessions at the 4.445km Phillip Island circuit.
Alex Lowes finished a strong sixth in the rankings, 0.628 seconds from the fastest rider, despite concentrating all his efforts in finding a chassis and race tyre combination with which to take on the challenge of race one on Saturday 25th February. He qualified directly into Superpole 2, which will take place after a 25-minute Free Practice 3 session on Saturday morning.
For Lowes new team-mate Michael van der Mark his first race weekend experience as an official Yamaha rider saw him 12th fastest on the time-sheets, but working on finding his best race set-up as a priority. He feels there are still even better machine settings to be found, particularly on corner entry.
Alex and Michael will use the final free practice session tomorrow to make ready for Superpole 1 and then the opening 22-lap race of the year, which takes place at 15.00 local time.
Paul Denning - Team Principal
"A good first day at the office for the team as we enter the 2017 season. Alex has approached his work with a very solid attitude and now has a huge understanding of how the R1 is working, on different spec tyres at full distance, as we get towards the first race tomorrow. The top 2 or 3 riders are at a slightly higher pace right now but Alex has given himself the best opportunity to edge closer to them and have a strong result.
Michael is still adapting to the R1 and struggled a little more in this afternoons warmer conditions, having taken a good step forward in pace this morning. However, he also has better consistency than some of the competitors he will be fighting with and as we have seen many times Michael always seems to bring his A-Game out for raceday.
The team is working well, Yamahas engineers are fully committed and we believe strongly that tomorrow will be the first step towards closing the gap to the front."
Michael van der Mark
12th / 1'31.351 / 55 laps
We worked well but I am not completely happy with how today went. I did a long run which was not too bad. We are quite consistent, which was good, but I was hoping to find more speed to go for another fast lap and get into Superpole 2 directly. It did not work out, we struggled with entry into corners and this problem also came along during the tests. I think for tomorrow we should try a big step with the bike and hopefully we can improve. The wind was different today compared to the test a few days ago but you just have to be careful on the first couple of laps to get used to it. Turns one, three and the final one were the most difficult ones for the wind, but it is not too bad if it is consistent. I think the weather has been the best it has been because in previous years it was too warm.
6th / 1'30.817 / 55 laps
I have done as much as I can in every session really - I think I have done three race simulations on the 2017 R1 now! I had a small problem in the end of the race run today but I felt quite good. I would like to be a bit closer to the riders in front but it looks like we are the ones right behind them now. Two solid results in that position; I would be quite happy to start the year like that. I am getting faster and every race run I have done I have been a tenth or two better. We are going in the right direction and you never know what can happen in the races. If I make sure I ride like I have been doing, and make sure I am there at the end and enjoy it - we can do quite well. It has been quite cool today but tomorrow and the day after should be quite a bit different. I did a race simulation in 45 degrees of track temperature in the recent tests and today did one in 30 degrees. I feel I am in a decent position and have a range to work in, and I do not think some other people have that. We also managed to improve our best lap time this afternoon but all I have really been focusing on is long runs.