Argentina Proves a Tough Challenge for Lowes and Van Der Mark
The first ever FIM World Superbike race in Argentina proved a challenging one for the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team's Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark today. Lowes was disappointed with seventh place at the chequered flag, having been heavily involved in the battle for the podium during the early stages of the race. Van der Mark managed to fight his way up to eighth place, having started from the fourth row of the grid, crossing the finish line just behind his teammate.
It was a particularly disappointing result for Lowes, who'd shown both speed and consistency in every session at Circuito San Juan Villicum and started the race from sixth position on the grid, after a solid performance in the earlier Superpole 2 qualifying session.
The Pata Yamaha rider got a good start from the second row, moving up to fourth after an aggressive opening lap but as the race progressed and the rear tyre performance dropped off, the 28-year-old Briton lost contact with the leading group. With the rear tyre spinning under acceleration and unable to match their drive out of the turns, the 28-year-old Briton was forced to let the podium contenders go and settle for seventh place and the points at the line.
Van der Mark started today's 21-lap race from 11th position on the grid, after a difficult qualifying path through both of the earlier Superpole sessions. Two small mistakes meant that the 25-year-old didn't manage to make up as many places as expected in the early stages of the race but, once he had a clear track in front of him, van der Mark's pace was similar to that of the frontrunners.
It was a lonely second half of the race for the Dutchman, who eventually followed his Pata Yamaha teammate across the line to finish eighth and pick up vital championship points. Van der Mark remains third in the championship but has now reduced the deficit to second-placed Chaz Davies from 26 to just 18 points.
Both Lowes and van der Mark are confident of a stronger showing tomorrow in Race 2, which they'll both start from the second row of the grid.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 7th + 15.597
"It was a bit of a frustrating race because I didn't really have the speed I thought I'd have today. We suffered a pretty severe drop off from the rear tyre, which is very strange because tyre preservation is normally one of my stronger points. It was unfortunate because I made a good start and got in a good position, but I couldn't maintain the pace. We'd been fast all weekend, but we seemed to lose our way a little bit in the race today, but then the track has been changing constantly and everyone was even quicker in the race than in practice, so it's really hard to gauge. Even with the tyre dropping off I managed to keep the lap times consistent, which was a positive, but we've obviously got a few areas we need to work on for tomorrow."
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 8th + 16.846
"This morning we changed quite a lot on the bike, but it didn't bring the improvements we were expecting and that made Superpole something of a struggle. It's never good to be starting from the fourth row, but it's even worse at this track because at the moment there is only a single clean line, which makes overtaking difficult. I got a reasonable start but then I had some problems shifting in the early laps and that lost me quite a lot of time. But as soon as I had a clear track I was able to increase my pace and start closing the gap to the guys in front of me. It means we can be more positive than we were this morning, because my pace at the end was quite strong and, if we can find some small improvements ahead of Race 2 tomorrow, which I'll start from the second row, then I think we can fight for a top five finish."