Van der Mark Pushes for the Podium in Race 2 at Donington
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team enjoyed a second good day today at Donington Park for round six of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship. Michael van der Mark produced a brilliant ride and was involved in a dramatic battle for the podium before securing an excellent fourth place. His teammate Alex Lowes - who recorded the team's first podium of the season in race one - had another strong race and crossed the line in fifth to make it a positive weekend for the team at their home event.
Van der Mark started from second on the grid and despite not having the perfect start, he immediately attacked, pulling off a number of superb overtaking manoeuvres to move up to second by the end of lap two. The Dutch rider continued to push but could not close the gap to the leader, so he decided to focus on riding his own race. His R1 was performing beautifully around the fast and flowing Donington Park circuit and he kept the hammer down, showing amazing consistency and never dropping below a 1:28s lap. Towards the end of the race he was caught by a charging Chaz Davies, but did not give up third place easily, fighting until the last corner of the penultimate lap before Davies managed to get past. The 23-year-old brought the R1 home in fourth place to equal his best result of the season, missing out on the podium by just 0.784s.
His teammate Lowes delivered another excellent ride at his home race after his podium heroics in race one. The British rider, starting from seventh on the grid, got boxed in at the start but recovered in the opening stages of the race to be in sixth by the end of the second lap. Unfortunately, he struggled to advance further for a number of laps, which affected his race. By the time he had moved into fourth position, the gap to his teammate ahead of him was over two seconds. Pushing to the limit as always, he valiantly fought with Davies as the Welsh rider fought his way through the pack, but did not quite have the same feeling with his R1 in the hotter conditions on Sunday than he did in race one. The 26-year-old decided to be sensible and focus on the championship, capping off a superb weekend by crossing the line in fifth.
This result means that Lowes, who is fifth in the standings with 121 points, has closed the gap to Marco Melandri in fourth to just 16 points. Van der Mark's fourth place means he has now moved up to sixth in the championship, just 19 points behind his teammate. The team now head to a private test at Misano, before round seven of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship at the same circuit in two weeks' time.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
My start was not perfect and at Donington, especially at the first corner, you have to be at the front. On lap two I passed Leon Haslam at Melbourne, then at the last corner I took Mercado and I was in second place. After that I kept pushing and I saw Johnathan Rea was too fast, but I kept pushing and did my own race. I improved my pace from yesterday by a lot so I was really happy. I saw I was opening a gap behind me, but in the last nine laps Chaz Davies was behind me and he was closing all the time. One lap before the end he passed me. I tried to get him back but unfortunately, I missed the podium. I am really happy with my race and the bike, it showed we can be on the podium in a normal race and I am very pleased with that. We should be strong at Misano. We know where we need to improve now, in the slower corners, it is also where Chaz was stronger than me which unfortunately happened to be the last part of the track. It is good for us to see we are strong in the faster areas and to see where we need to improve. We have a nice test at Misano this week, then hopefully we can arrive for the race weekend there having made a step.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
Todays race was obviously not as much fun as yesterday with all the overtakes! My start wasn't too great and on the first couple of laps I got a bit boxed in. I was really struggling to pass Mercado on the Aprilia. I tried a few times but ran wide at one point and my gap to Michael had grown to a couple of seconds. Once I got a clear track I was putting in some consistent times, but honestly, I was struggling to go any quicker. Near the end of the race when Chaz came past, there was nothing I could do because he was quicker than me, so I had to just be sensible. Of course, it would have been nice to have been able to have pushed to the end and join the fight for the podium, but I didnt have the correct feeling to do that today so I had to settle for the points. A third and fifth at my home round is really good, I am happy with that, and we closed down the gap to the guy in fourth in the championship. Its been a really positive weekend. Massive thanks to all the people that came, because its really, really nice for me to ride in front of my home fans. I think we can say we did a good job and I am looking forward to Misano. One of the good things is that the top guys in the championship passed me during the race and I could follow them to see where we are strong and where we need to improve, so I am looking forward to the test at Misano to try and improve.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
"As a team, we can't have any complaints about the way the weekend has gone at our home race here at Donington Park. Perhaps a 22 rather than 23-lap race might have been nicer for Michael, then we could have had a double podium! Aside from that, everything has gone well. Michael took full advantage of his front row start and rode very aggressively in the early laps to force his way through into second position, and then maintained a fantastic pace through the race. He fought really hard against Chaz Davies in the last few laps, very narrowly missing out on the podium. It was a confidence building performance for him, and a good indication of more to come. Alex's race was compromised by a less than perfect start and getting a little bit stuck behind Mercado for too many laps, creating a big gap in front. Once he had had a short fight with Chaz, he didn't quite have the same confidence in the bike to push as hard as yesterday, so fifth position in the race and closing the gap significantly on fourth position in the championship is another very positive result. The R1 was fantastic around Donington Park and we only lost out to the top guys through the slow speed last sector. We found similar problems in Imola so it is very clear where the focus needs to be, and we will be working hard in Misano next week on taking the next steps forward."