2018 WorldSBK Thailand - Chang International Circuit
Sensational Race 2 Double Podium for Pata Yamaha in Thailand
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team achieved a stunning Race 2 double podium on Sunday in extremely hot and humid conditions in Buriram, Thailand at Round 2 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship. Michael van der Mark had a great start from fourth on the grid and was immediately involved in the battle for the win with his teammate Alex Lowes, leading the race for six laps and crossing the line in a superb second place to secure his first podium of the season. Lowes was also involved in the excellent fight for the victory from the middle of the front row. He once again enjoyed an exciting duel with his teammate in the early stages, before improving strongly at the end to secure third place and ensure a positive end to the Thai event for the Pata Yamaha team.
Van der Mark finished Saturday's Race 1 in seventh, slightly disappointed with his pace but happy with his consistency. In an aim to find those extra tenths for Race 2 the 25-year-old Dutch rider tried a different setup in Warm Up but felt it was not an improvement. The team resorted back to his final setup from Friday and, along with a different specification front tyre, it clearly paid off. When the lights went out for Sunday's race, van der Mark enjoyed a superb start from the head of the second row and became embroiled in an excellent battle with his teammate for the race lead. As has become a regular fixture in the first four races of 2018, the duo swapped places a number of times in the opening laps as they exchanged the lead before van der Mark made a small break on lap 3.
Pushing hard, he opened a gap at the front of the field, leading the way until Chaz Davis managed to hunt him down on lap 8. Determined to fight for victory, van der Mark set his fastest lap (1:33.775) - and the fastest lap of the race at the time - on lap 9 and was right on the back wheel of Davies. Determined not to let him get away, he managed to match his pace lap for lap but could not get past, and as the race went on he started to focus on managing the gap to his teammate Lowes. He went on to cross the line in second, 2.185s behind Davies, to secure his third Yamaha podium and equal his best result for the Pata Yamaha team. In the process, he collected 20 championship points and he is now sixth in the overall standings with 45 points.
Lowes fought back to a strong fifth-place finish in Race 1 at the Chang International Circuit on Saturday but struggled with the feeling with his Pata Yamaha R1 during the opening laps of the race before storming back through the field. His team worked hard overnight and during Warm Up to try and find a solution and when the lights went out for Race 2 on Sunday, the 27-year-old British rider fought valiantly at the front from second on the grid despite still not feeling 100% confident in the initial set-up. He battled hard with his teammate during the opening three laps, but he could not quite match van der Mark's early pace as he dropped to third place.
Patiently and maturely, he gradually found a better rhythm and, managing to keep the rest of the field at bay, on lap 15 he started to close down the 2.5s gap to his teammate ahead of him. His pace kept on improving as the race went on, with Lowes setting his fastest time (1:33.946) on lap 16. Unfortunately, he just ran out of laps and crossed the line in a brilliant third place, just 1.699s behind van der Mark to record his maiden podium for the season and seventh in total for the team. The 16 points he collected for his efforts mean he is now fifth overall in the championship standings with 48 points, just 21 points behind the leader and three ahead of his teammate.
It was the second double podium for the Pata Yamaha Team since their return to the WorldSBK Championship in 2016 - to add to the one they secured in Magny-Cours last season. The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team will now head to Aragon for Round 3 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship on the 13th-15th of April full of confidence and hungry for more podiums. Check out the full Race 2 results.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 2nd +2.185s
"I am so happy with this result! Yesterday, I wasn't happy at all after the race because I struggled so much. Then this morning we changed the bike and it didn't feel like an improvement so for the race we took a gamble and went back to Friday's setup. We changed the front tyre and it also helped us a little bit. After the start I was fast, I had a nice battle with Alex again, then Chaz Davies passed me and I tried to stay with him for a long time but he was just a bit quicker than me in some sectors. The pace was quite good and I saw that we were opening a gap to Alex in third. At the end, it was quite difficult for me to stay with Chaz, but then I saw I could manage the gap behind me. So, second place after the results from yesterday and at Phillip Island was really positive! I was riding at the limit but the limit today was a lot further than yesterday so it was a big improvement from Race 1. Aragon is a completely different track so it will be interesting to see how the R1 goes there but after the first two races of the season, I am really happy. There are still a few things I want to improve but if we can start on Friday at Aragon with the same pace and feeling we had today, I will be very happy!"
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 3rd +3.884s
"It was a great end to the weekend and it was fantastic for the Pata Yamaha team to have myself and Michael on the podium! To be honest, I was a bit frustrated because the first 10 or 11 laps I was just too slow - Michael came past me and I just couldn't stay with him. It was a little bit frustrating as it was basically the same as yesterday, I was too slow in the first part of the race and I haven't really improved that, which is a shame, but obviously Michael was really strong so maybe he is doing something a bit better than me or he found a better setup. He did a great job and I have to try and learn from that and be stronger for the next races. I feel really good in the last part of the race, in all the sessions on old tyres I have been strong but I just keep giving myself a bit too work much to do. When the race is as close as that and everyone is close together and we are battling, I really, really, enjoy it and that is obviously the main thing. If you are having fun and everyone is enjoying watching it, I think it is fantastic. I enjoyed the race, I enjoyed the weekend and I will enjoy tonight as well. We have some things to work on before Aragon, especially my feeling with the bike on a full tank of fuel. Apart from that, I feel great, I feel like the team are working really well. I have a new Crew Chief this year with Andrew Pitt, so it has taken a couple of races for everything to fit into place but now it is going good and that gives me a lot of confidence going into Aragon. I like Aragon, I like Assen, in fact, the next few tracks are fantastic for me so I hope to be challenging for the podium every weekend!"
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
"We hoped that starting from the first and second rows would help today and that combined with an excellent first few laps by both Michael and Alex certainly contributed to a fantastic double-podium result for the team! It looks like the championship is going to be less predictable and more interesting this year and what's positive from Yamaha's point of view is that we still feel there is more potential to unlock. It has been a very solid start to the season. The results today are a great reward for Yamaha's engineers and an extremely hard working and dedicated team. Congratulations to both Michael and Alex on their performances and we are looking forward to starting the European leg of the season in Aragon in a few weeks' time."