Van Der Mark Challenges for Victory In Magny-Cours Thriller
After a tough Race 1 yesterday, Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team rider Michael van der Mark bounced back impressively today, with a superb ride to third place in a thrilling Race 2 encounter at Magny-Cours. Alex Lowes also staged a comeback with a solid ride to seventh place today, after a crash in the early stages of Race 1 dashed his hopes of a points scoring finish yesterday.
Van der Mark's crew made significant changes to the set up of his Yamaha YZF-R1 ahead of Race 2, in a bid to solve some of the issues he experienced in the race yesterday. It was a carefully calculated gamble, but one that paid dividends for the 25-year-old this afternoon.
Starting from the head of the second row of the grid van der Mark made a fast and aggressive start that saw him slot into second place behind early race leader Chaz Davies. The Pata Yamaha rider then managed to fend off a concerted attack from Jonathan Rea, but the newly crowned World Champion eventually forced his way through and set off in pursuit of Davies, with van der Mark in his slipstream.
Van der Mark kept Rea and Davies in his sights until the closing stages of the race when the two leaders managed to pull a small gap on the Pata Yamaha rider, leaving him to cross the line in third for his tenth podium finish of the season. Van der Mark remains third in the championship standings, but now trails second-placed Davies by 26 points with four races remaining.
Having crashed and remounted to finish outside the points yesterday, Lowes went into Race 2 today determined to salvage his Magny-Cours weekend with a solid result. Starting from 10th on the grid the 28-year-old Briton got caught up in an early battle for position and, by the time he'd forced his way to the front of the group and had clear track in front of him, had lost contact with the leading group of six riders.
The Pata Yamaha rider's pace over the second half of the race was fast and consistent, but the gap ahead of him proved insurmountable and he crossed the line in seventh position, well clear of the pursuing pack. Lowes was disappointed with his race results after a strong qualifying performance, but heads to the next race in Argentina determined to rediscover the form that saw him take his first WorldSBK race win in Brno earlier in the season.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 3rd + 3.552
"After such a difficult race yesterday, I'm really happy to finish off the Magny-Cours weekend with a podium today. We changed a lot on the bike ahead of warm-up this morning, but still I didn't feel really comfortable on the bike. So Lez and my guys made a few more changes before the race; it was a bit of a gamble, but it paid off. I made such a good start, probably my best of the season, and I able to be aggressive from the first lap. I tried to get past Chaz, who was also quick off the line, but I couldn't quite make it happen. Then Johnny passed me and I for the first time this weekend I felt like I had the bike I needed to fight with top riders. They were a bit stronger than me at the end, but I'm really happy with the improvements we made overnight and to have finished on the podium at the end of what had been a difficult weekend."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 7th + 15.077
"Overall it's been a disappointing weekend. My speed was quite good, but we just didn't get the results we should have had here in Magny-Cours. I didn't get the best of starts from tenth on the grid and I ended up in a bit of a battle in the opening laps; I'd make a pass then another guy would come past me and it just held us all up. Once I'd fought my way clear my pace was good, but it was too late because the leading group had pulled too big a gap ahead of me. From that point it was just a case of keeping focused, staying consistent and making it to the end of the race. We've worked hard this weekend to get me more confortable on the bike, but we still need to find improvements in some areas if we are to turn things around at the next race in Argentina."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK - Team Principal
"A huge improvement today from the whole team, in particular Michael with a brilliant podium on a circuit that's clearly been difficult over the course of the weekend to get to his and the R1's recently expected levels of performance. Michael's start and first laps showed very positive levels of confidence and aggression and he was able to finish quite close to Jonathan in the end. His application and the efforts of his crew to take a good step forward with the bike overnight are appreciated and applauded. Alex effectively missed yesterday's race, riding a badly damaged bike to the end, but we were unable to judge anything in terms of performance. Therefore a tenth place start, a really difficult track position in the early laps and getting involved in the upper midfield melee made life difficult, but he applied himself very strongly. I'm sure Alex will look back overall on the weekend, with a strong qualifying performance, a more confident pace than Portimão and a good recovery today, as a positive step forwards as we go into the last four races of the season."