Pata Yamaha Battle Hard for the Podium in Jerez Race 1
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team highlighted their recent progress, following on from their double rostrum in Magny-Cours, as both riders were once again in the podium mix during a restarted Race 1 on Saturday at Jerez, the penultimate round of the FIM 2017 Superbike World Championship. Alex Lowes started from the front row and rode to a superb fourth place after battling with the championship front-runners for the duration of the race. His teammate Michael van der Mark crossed the line just behind Lowes in fifth after another determined ride to further cement the Pata Yamaha Team as genuine podium contenders.
After ending Friday's practice in fourth, Lowes recorded his best qualifying result of the season on Saturday as he started from the front row in third. In the original race, he had a good start and was battling with his teammate for third when the red flag appeared on the first lap. In the restarted race, the 27-year-old British rider once again battled with van der Mark during the first few corners, before taking his teammate on lap 3 for fifth and becoming involved in an excellent six-way fight for the lead. Keeping pace with the championship leaders, Lowes rode brilliantly and after Marco Melandri retired from the lead he was promoted to fourth. Some minor issues with his Pata Yamaha R1 that meant he didn't quite have the same confidence to catch Sykes and Davies for the runner-up position and Lowes crossed the line in fourth, just 3.652s behind the race winner Jonathan Rea after a very solid ride. This result sees Lowes remain fifth in the championship standings with 213 points and the 2013 British Superbike Champion will line up on pole position for Sunday's Race 2.
Van der Mark was third overall on the combined timesheets after Friday's practice and went on to qualify in fifth on Saturday. When the lights went out during the original race he got a great start, moving up to third and was battling at the front before the red flag came out. In the restarted race, he again got a good start and immediately was involved in a battle with his teammate Lowes for third. Unfortunately, he did not quite have the same front-end feeling with his Pata Yamaha R1 as he enjoyed in practice and found himself running wide at a number of corners. Undeterred, he fought hard to stay with the leading group of six once he was passed by his teammate. Managing to match their pace, he fought valiantly as he and Lowes chased down the leaders but in the last few laps maturely decided to bring his Pata Yamaha R1 home in an excellent fifth place. This result means the 2014 Supersport World Champion is now sixth in the championship standings with 200 points, 13 behind his teammate. Van der Mark will line up just behind his Lowes in the middle of the front row to make it a Yamaha 1-2 for Sunday's Race 2 in Jerez.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team return to action on Sunday at the Circuito De Jerez confident they can build on their encouraging Race 1 results, with Warm Up scheduled for 9:30 am local time and Race 2 scheduled to start at 13:00 pm. Check out the full race results.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 4th +3.652s
"I had a difficult start after the red flag when Michael passed me on the inside of Turn 6, we both ran wide and lost a bit of time to the lead group. Then I was struggling to get past him, but when I managed to overtake, my pace was pretty good but then I found it difficult to get into a rhythm to actually catch the leaders. From half race distance, I picked up an unusual vibration and it meant that I did not have the confidence I had in the race simulation I ran on Friday. I am certain we can improve for tomorrow and it shows how far we have come to be disappointed with fourth position and so close to the podium! I am looking forward to Race 2 as I feel I can do a better job, especially starting from pole, but I enjoyed it today and I am happy with a solid race!"
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 5th +7.329s
"I had a good start in the original race until I ran wide after Tom Sykes made contact with me at Turn 2, but then we had the red flag. I then had another good start but found the first few corners were a bit difficult as I tried to work my way to the front. To be honest, I struggled with the front-end feeling, I kept losing the front grip, so I struggled a lot to stay with Alex and the other guys. It was a really difficult and long race because I didn't feel as good as I did during practice, so we have to find a solution for this. Anyway, we scored some good points and tomorrow we start from the front row. Hopefully, I can get another good start and a better feeling with the front."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
"It was a really exciting race for the top six positions today, especially in the first half, and it was great to see Pata Yamaha, Alex, and Michael as a part of it. Alex didn't get the best of starts from the front row and when the top guys in the championship are all at the front that doesn't help, but he and Michael both dug in and did everything they could to fight for the podium. We didn't quite have enough today but racing so closely with the championship contenders gives both our guys a much clearer picture of where we need to improve and where the priorities are to take the next steps with the R1. It was a very solid and focused performance by both, they start first and second on the grid tomorrow and with a few overnight improvements let's see if we can turn that into a podium challenge!"