2017 WorldSBK Misano - Riviera di Rimini
Lowes on the Podium as Van der Mark denied Victory Challenge
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team's Alex Lowes made it two podiums in three races as he secured second in an incredibly dramatic race one in the sun at Misano for round seven of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship. His teammate Michael van der Mark was left cursing his luck as he rode brilliantly to lead for the majority of the race, before crashing out on lap 15 through circumstances outside of his control.
Lowes had a good start from seventh on the grid, moving up to sixth in the first corner. During the opening stages of the race he kept a consistent pace, never letting the riders in front get away. When his teammate crashed out on lap 15 Lowes was in fifth and pushing hard to try and close the gap to Tom Sykes ahead of him. There was more drama to come, as first Marco Melandri crashed out of the race, and then on the last lap Chaz Davies crashed, taking Jonathan Rea with him. Lowes took his chance and crossed the line in second to secure his best ever result for the Pata Yamaha team and made it two podiums in three races, after his third-place finish at Donington Park.
Van der Mark enjoyed an amazing start, charging off the line from fifth on the grid to be in second place after the first two corners. Showing blistering pace, he then overtook Rea for the lead on lap two and set about opening up a one second advantage at the front of the field. He set the fastest lap of the race on lap 4, a 1:35.297, and managed the gap at the front superbly, leading the race for 13 laps. He looked on course to fight for his first Yamaha victory, before disaster struck on lap 15. Through no fault of his own or the R1's, he lost the rear and crashed out of the race at turn 13 due to a technical issue with his rear tyre, which is still under investigation. After an amazing ride, van der Mark was left to rue the missed opportunity, but took heart from his amazing pace and from how much progress he and the team have made in recent weeks.
This result sees Alex Lowes move up to fourth in the championship standings with 141 points, just 45 behind Chaz Davies in third. His teammate van der Mark is in seventh with 102 points, only eight points behind Xavi Fores in sixth position. Lowes will line up in the middle of the third row in eighth for Sunday's race two, while van der Mark will start from 12th on the grid. Both riders are looking forward to getting back on track for race two at 13:00pm on Sunday.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 2nd
"Of course, I am happy to be on the podium! This weekend started really tough for me with 3 crashes on Friday, and I just haven't had the front-end feel at this track that I have had at all the other tracks, and honestly, I have been struggling. But in the race today I managed to get a decent start and I noticed a lot of the other guys were struggling as well and I managed to keep a consistent pace. I hope all the guys who crashed are alright. My teammate Michael did a fantastic job all weekend, and it sounds as if the crash wasn't his fault at all, so he deserved a lot more from that race. It's nice to be on the podium and it's great to see our hard work paying off. Even without the guys at the front making the mistakes, we were still relatively close to the front which is a good step for us. I am happy, it's a great result after a tough weekend and hopefully we can make some small changes to the bike and be closer to the battle for the win tomorrow."
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK - DNF
"This morning we made a slight change on the bike's geometry and I felt really good right from the start! I improved my pace and I was really happy. In SP2 my first lap on the race tyre was really good, and after that I was very consistent. I made small step forward and I was happy to qualify on the second row in fifth. In the race, I had a bit of a strange start, but it turned out to be a really good one! I was second on the first lap and on the next lap I passed Jonathan Rea for the lead. I just did my pace, but it was not as strong as I expected, but it was good enough to pull away from the rest. Towards the end, I was still doing the same lap times and Jonathan was starting to close in. Then for no reason I lost the rear in a really fast corner. I don't know what happened, but for sure it was not my fault and we have to find out what the cause of the crash was. I am happy because we had a really strong race, but I am very disappointed as this should have been my first podium, or even victory, for Yamaha."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
"A strange end result to race one here in Misano, but a result from which we have to take a huge number of positives. The first word has to be for Michael, forcing his way to the front, leading the race for 14 laps and looking incredibly comfortable - this confirms both his potential and that of the YZF-R1. It's clear the accident was completely outside of his control and completely outside of Yamaha or the team's control, but whilst further investigations are ongoing, it's not pertinent to discuss the matter further. We feel like the consistency of the lap times demonstrate that Michael would have been there to fight for the win at the end, and that a great opportunity has been taken away; none the less we have to applaud the rider, his crew and Yamaha's development engineers for providing him with such a good package today.
"Alex struggled to find a good feeling all weekend here in Misano, so his approach to the race was be consistent, be safe, learn as much as he could and take a step forward tomorrow. Alex did exactly that and until he backed off towards the end of the race was very close to Sykes and the podium fight. His pace was probably better then he, or we, expected and that is something to build on tomorrow. Sometimes you get lucky in sport, but Alex made his own luck by making no mistakes and being in the right places at the right time to equal his best result in WorldSBK and move up to fourth in the championship."