Disappointing Double DNF Ends Race One in Assen for Pata Yamaha
It was a disappointing end to the first day of racing for the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team in Assen today. The first race of the Dutch round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship came to an early end for both Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes, with both unable to continue having crashed on laps three and fourteen respectively.
Local hero van der Mark had a less than perfect start to his home race. Having qualified in eighth on the grid in Superpole 2, The Dutchman was unfortunate to make contact with his teammate into turn one on the opening lap, running wide and dropping to the back of the pack. A quick recovery saw him making impressive progress through to 14th position on the first timed lap and climbing, before a highside on lap three brought an abrupt end to his race. Disappointed but uninjured, van der Mark will be focused and back on track tomorrow for race two.
Teammate Lowes was equally unfortunate. The young Brit made a strong start from his 12th place on the grid on row four. Despite accidental contact with van der Mark going into the first turn, Lowes was able to keep position and keep climbing through the pack to eighth. With an impressive race pace he had climbed to pass Eugene Laverty for sixth by lap 11, settling into his ride until unfortunately losing the front to crash at turn 10 on lap 14. Lowes will head to the grid tomorrow for race two as equally determined as his Dutch teammate to make up for todays unfortunate double DNF.
Michael van der Mark - DNF
This morning in free practice I had a good pace and did a long run, I felt so much better on the bike and had a good feeling. The pace was not as fast as the podium guys but after them we are the only ones with a strong pace so I knew it would be good for the race. Superpole was good, I did my fastest lap ever at Assen but I think we just missed some acceleration a little bit between the corners. For the race, Ive struggled a bit with my starts all weekend, so we need to find a solution for this tomorrow. At the first corner I had nowhere to go with Alex and Nicky in front of me so I went straight off track. The first lap I made up a lot of places and the second also I had quite a good pace. Unfortunately from the first lap I could feel I was struggling with grip on corner entry and exit, then I think I forgot that in my hurry to get to the front and lost the rear and had a highside. Im really disappointed; its frustrating because I think we could have been in the top five for sure. Tomorrow is a new day, the weather is looking even better than today, even warmer which will be good for us so I hope the home fans will support me tomorrow again.
Alex Lowes - DNF
Weve struggled setting the bike up this weekend, and made quite a big change for race one. The change was actually good, with more positives than negatives. Unfortunately the negative point was that we had more front tyre wear than we expected. I didn't have too many slides until I crashed, I really wish Id had more warnings and not finished in that way! I felt like I rode quite well before the crash, so something to take on to tomorrow to do better. I want to say a special thanks to the guys on Michaels side of the garage who helped to fix my bike last night, and also to my crew who stayed up and burnt the midnight oil to get the R1 ready for me.
Pata Yamaha's challenging weekend at Assen continues! We can only work as hard as possible and study as hard as possible to improve tomorrow and put today's result behind us. The difficult start with contact between the two riders affected Michael's race. He needed to push hard to regain lost ground and unfortunately lost the bike before the harder rear tyre option chosen was able to get up to full working temperature. Michael makes very few mistakes but it does happen in racing, it was just unfortunate to be at his home race. Im sure that once he is over his disappointment of race one he will come out guns blazing to set things right in race two.
Alex has had one of the toughest weekends so far of his World Superbike career, but with the help of the team and a significantly different direction for Race 1 the R1 setting was better and he was making good progress. Its disappointing that we lost a big bag full of points. We suffered worse front tyre wear than during the practice sessions, but this can happen when weve lost a lot of track time on Friday. The direction is right, we just need to learn from race one and take a step forward tomorrow.