Pata Yamaha Make Confident Start in Aragon
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team were back on track today for round three of the 2017 FIM Motul Superbike World Championship at the Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain. Enjoying their first championship practice sessions on European soil of the 2017 season, riders Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark were straight down to business, taking fifth and eighth respectively in the combined times.
British rider Lowes wasted no time in getting onto a comfortable pace in the morning session and was clearly enjoying his revised for '17 WorldSBK spec YZF-R1 on the Aragon circuit. He was comfortably able to match the pace of the fastest riders, finishing the first hour of practice just 0.071 seconds from the top. The afternoon saw track temperatures rise considerably, which combined with a different setting direction provided a more challenging practice. A sudden change in weather in the final minutes with rain beginning to fall ensured no further dropping of the lap times the final result placing Lowes fifth in the combined times to complete the day.
Teammate van der Mark echoed Lowes' confidence in the morning session, making consistent progress and delivering a comfortable pace from the off. The young Dutchman was able to wrap up his first European practice session as an official Yamaha rider with a promising pace, slotting into sixth with a 1'50.956s lap, 0.386 from the top. The afternoon saw him facing the same challenge as his teammate with rising temperatures taking their toll. A long run and various set up changes were tested before the weather turned, leaving him at the end of the session happy to sit in eighth overall on combined times and ready to look for another step tomorrow morning.
Alex Lowes - 5th, 1'50.641
Honestly I'm quite happy with the bike today. In the afternoon session we went backwards a little bit and that setting didn't feel so good, but that's no problem as we know we can go the other way now for tomorrow in the next practice. I enjoyed riding these sessions; I enjoyed the bike on the track apart from the end of the second session that was a bit dodgy with the weather. I'm looking forward to tomorrow; I think I can do a good qualifying and a good race. I'm really loving my R1 now so let's see what happens! I need to improve my position on the bike a little so we'll work on that in the morning practice and confirm it in Superpole to be ready for the race.
Michael van der Mark - 8th, 1'50.956
"I think this morning we started really strongly and did good lap times - we tried quite a few things in the first session that felt really good. I feel I made some good lap times at the end and I felt good with the bike. We ended the morning in sixth, and that is the closest I think we've been to the front this season in practice, so that is really positive. For the afternoon we struggled a little more as the temperature of the track went up. I made a kind of 10-lap race simulation to see how it felt. We need to try to find a couple of tenths per lap when the temperature is higher so that's one of our challenges. For tomorrow we have to try a few more settings to improve under braking but overall I'm happy and we were consistent. We need to go a bit faster but its a positive start to the weekend.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal - Paul Denning
"The Friday free practice sessions are so critical as we enter the European part of the 2017 championship, especially as FP3 is so early in the Saturday morning and is immediately followed by qualifying and the first race. In the cooler conditions of FP1 this morning both riders gave very strong performances, with Alex in particular showing very strong pace and finishing the session only seven hundredths from P1. With significantly increased track temperature this afternoon the riders weren't able to get the same level of performance with similar settings, but over the course of the session we recovered and were able to get a lot closer to the fastest competitors. FP3, despite the early start, will be important tomorrow morning to try a couple of changes with the race in mind, all dependent on the changeable weather and what the Aragon circuit gives us for Saturday."