Hard Fought Seventh for Van Der Mark in Tough Magny-Cours Encounter
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team riders Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes endured a challenging Race 1 at Round 11 of the FIM World Superbike Championship in Magny-Cours today. Van der Mark overcame rear grip issues to pick up vital championship points in seventh place, whereas Lowes was left frustrated after a lonely ride to 18th place following a crash just two laps into the race.
It was Lowes that took an early advantage today, with the 28-year-old Briton securing fifth position on the second row of the grid in the final Superpole shootout. Van der Mark was unable to match the qualifying pace of his Pata Yamaha teammate and started today's 21-lap race from tenth position on the fourth row.
A lack of rear grip from the start of the race meant that van der Mark was unable to maintain contact with the leading group, becoming embroiled instead in a frenetic battle for sixth with Toprak Razgatlioglu, Marco Melandri and Loris Baz. The Pata Yamaha rider eventually forced his way to the front of the group and had managed to pull a small gap on his pursuers by mid race distance. However, a missed gear in the closing stages allowed Melandri back through and van der Mark was forced to settle for seventh at the finish.
Lowes was battling within the leading group from the start, but his podium challenge came to a premature end when the Pata Yamaha rider crashed at turn 15 on lap two of 21. The 28-year-old Briton remounted to rejoin the race, but at the back of the field and 55 seconds down on the race leader. A points scoring finish proved an impossible task today, with Lowes eventually crossing the line in 18th place. The fact that he maintained a consistent pace over the full race distance will pay dividends for Lowes however, as his crew will use the race data to refine further the set up of his Yamaha YZF-R1 ahead of Race 2 tomorrow.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 7th + 14.733
"It was a really difficult race here in Magny-Cours today. This morning we tried a few things on the bike that didn't work as expected, so we switched back to the set up from yesterday for qualifying. My Superpole lap felt quite good but the lap time just wasn't there and that meant I started the race today from the fourth row of the grid, which isn't ideal. From the start I was struggling for rear grip and that made for a long and tough race. Now we need to sit down with the guys, carefully analyse the data and find a solution, even if that means making big changes to the bike ahead of warm up tomorrow. I hope we can make a step overnight and that this will allow us to fight once again for the podium in Race 2."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 18th + 1:12.942
"I made a strong start from the second row of the grid and was able to maintain my position on the opening lap, but then I made a small mistake at turn 15, touching the kerb on the inside of the corner, and it unsettled the bike enough to bring me off. That was my day pretty much done in terms of a result, but I managed to remount and finish the race. We'll look at the data from the race tonight and, hopefully, we can find a solution to the issues I'm having on corner exit, as this would make a big difference in the race tomorrow."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK - Team Principal
"There's no question it was a tough race here at Magny-Cours today. Of course, as our riders and the R1 have gained so much competitiveness, victories and podiums over the course of the season, the expectation and target is always higher than today's result. In the end it's the World Championship, there are many very high quality riders and factory machines and we only need to be missing a very small piece of the jigsaw and we suffer, as we saw with Michael today. He rode his heart out for 21 laps, but it wasn't enough, so he and his crew will try to understand what they can do to find a couple of tenths in rhythm for tomorrow, when starting from the second row will be a huge help.. Alex has ridden a very solid weekend, looked in good shape in terms of challenging within the podium group but, unfortunately, a small mistake on lap 2 had a big consequence. He was able to rejoin and, as always he dug in and made sure he completed the race. Now we need to press "reset" on both sides of the garage and push as hard as we can tomorrow."