Magic Michael takes Maiden Yamaha Podium in Race 2 at Portimao
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team's Michael van der Mark stormed to his first podium for Yamaha in sensational fashion at Portimao on Sunday, round ten of the 2017 Superbike World Championship. The Dutch rider started on the front row and put in a super performance to bring his Yamaha R1 home in second place, moving up to sixth in the championship standings in the process. His teammate Alex Lowes was charging his way through the field after starting from tenth on the grid but suffered a highside on lap 8 that left him very battered and bruised, but miraculously he escaped any serious injuries.
All eyes were on van der Mark after his call-up to fill in for the injured Valentino Rossi in the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team at the Aragon GP next weekend and he put on a superb display of riding in Sunday's Race 2 to secure his best result yet for the Pata Yamaha team. Starting from the middle of the front row, the 24-year-old did not quite have the grip levels to push to the maximum during the first few laps and dropped down to fifth, but then settled into a good rhythm and started to close the gap to the riders in front. On lap 4 he passed Leon Camier to move into fourth and set his sights next on Eugene Laverty in third. Showing incredible consistency in his lap times while others started to struggle, the former World Supersport Champion hunted down Laverty by lap 11, making his move and immediately opening up a gap. As the race continued to progress he was matching the pace of Chaz Davies ahead of him before, with 3 laps remaining, Davies crashed out and van der Mark was promoted to second. Continuing to ride hard right until the end after having been denied a previous podium in Misano in the dying stages of a race through no fault of his own, he crossed the line in second place to the delight of his team and fans to collect 20 championship points. This saw him move up to sixth in the championship standings with 166 points, just three points behind his teammate Lowes.
Lowes lined up at the front of the fourth row on the grid for Sunday's Race 2 and when the lights went out he made a good start. A few laps later and he was up into eighth and became involved in an excellent battle with Marco Melandri, Lorenzo Savadori, and Jordi Torres - with Lowes setting lap times that would have seen him battling for the podium - before a huge highside on lap 8 at Turn 13 ended his race. Unbelievably, Lowes walked away battered and bruised but with no serious injuries and the 27-year-old British rider is determined to bounce back at the next round in Magny Cours. After this result, Lowes currently sits fifth in the championship standings with 169 points and will head to France taking the positives from a challenging weekend.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team will remain in Portimao on Monday for the official one-day test, before heading to Magny-Cours for round eleven of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship on the 29th September - 1st October. Check out the Race 2 results.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 2nd +5.834s
"It's amazing to finish on the podium after so much bad luck this year! We have struggled sometimes with the setup of the bike and have been close to the podium a couple of times only to miss out. It wasn't really easy, but I knew I had quite a good pace and starting from P2 helped me a lot. At the start of the race I was lacking a bit of grip, so I couldn't follow the front guys for the first couple of laps, but then I found my pace. It was a really difficult race but I was stronger than the guys behind me. I got a bit lucky that Chaz Davies crashed out but I am so happy to have got my first podium with Yamaha. We have worked so hard all year and I am so glad to finally reward my team and Yamaha with a podium. When you finally take a podium, you get the self-belief because you know you can do it. Everything came together today and it is always good to be standing on the podium and now I want to enjoy this feeling at every race. We found a really good base setup that seems to work everywhere, so we will start with the same bike in Magny-Cours after tomorrow's test, where we only need to adjust some small things with the bike and I am looking forward to the next race! "
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - DNF
"Obviously, I am really disappointed with the Race 2 crash. It didn't feel like I had done an awful lot wrong but the rear skipped round on me and resulted in quite a big crash. It is even more disappointing as after a busy start to the race from the fourth row I was starting to feel comfortable and was closing quickly on the group in front of me, but unfortunately, in the end instead of two really solid results we have scored no points this weekend. I am feeling very bashed around right now, but more than that is the disappointment. I am determined to bounce back from this and as a team make sure we learn what we can so that we can move forward to Magny-Cours with a positive attitude."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
"Everybody in the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK project is so pleased for Michael that he has achieved his first podium for the team. He showed very strong consistency yesterday and with the help of his crew took another small step forward in his R1's performance today and his efforts have been rewarded with a great result. We had a little bit of positive luck to have finished in second rather than third after Davies' crash, but the podium position before that was solely on merit and Michael and the team should be proud of their performance. Alex, at one of his favourite tracks, has had such a disappointing weekend in terms of results and was fortunate to escape serious injury in a very nasty looking highside today. These things happen in racing but it was really such a shame as Alex had just found his rhythm and settled into much better lap times than the podium challenging group and was closing rapidly to join the fight with Michael. We could have quite possibly had two Pata Yamaha R1s on the podium today but we will count our blessings that we achieved a great result with Michael and that Alex has escaped relatively unscathed and is able to resume the fight for the best possible championship finish at the next round in Magny-Cours."