2019 WorldSBK Thailand - Chang International Circuit
Triple Podium for Lowes as Yamaha Close the Gap
Two scintillating performances from Alex Lowes today saw the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider add two more podium finishes to the one he achieved in Race 1 yesterday, making it three from three for the 28-year-old Briton. Lowes took third in this morning's Superpole race then backed that up by again racing to another podium in Race 2 this afternoon. Michael van der Mark set himself up perfectly in the Superpole race, with a fourth place finish from tenth on the grid securing him a second row start for Race 2, in which he also went on to finish fourth. GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider, Marco Melandri, overcame stability issues to finish sixth today, while Sandro Cortese made it six top ten finishes in as many races by bringing his YZF-R1 home in seventh place.
As this afternoon’s main race began, a good start for Lowes saw him slot in behind eventual race winner, Alvaro Bautista, and reigning World Champion, Jonathan Rea on the opening lap. But while the Pata Yamaha rider had the speed to pull a gap on his pursuers and to match Rea’s pace, he didn’t quite have enough in reserve to overhaul the Irishman for second place. Rather than risk all for no gain, Lowes rode a fast and consistent second half of the race to secure his third consecutive podium of the weekend. The result consolidated Lowes’ third position in the championship standings with 69 points.
Van der Mark was made to work hard for his second fourth place finish of the day, after a slight mistake dropped him back behind Melandri, Cortese, and Leon Haslam early in the race. The Pata Yamaha rider managed to fight his way back through to again claim fourth place, which he held to the line with a slight advantage over his pursuers. Van der Mark remains fourth in the championship standings with 61 points, but with an increased margin over Melandri in fifth.
Melandri was heavily involved in the battle for fourth place from the start of the race but again experienced some stability issues that have plagued him throughout the weekend and, despite some aggressive passes as he tried to challenge Haslam for fifth place, the Italian was forced to settle for sixth at the chequered flag. Melandri lies fifth in the championship standings with 54 points.
Cortese was also a protagonist in the battle for fourth place for much of today’s 20-lap race, but lost contact with the group following a near high-side just four laps from the end. The reigning Supersport World Champion was quick to recover but simply ran out of laps as he chased back to the group ahead, leaving him to pick up his sixth consecutive top ten finish of the season in seventh place.
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P3
"I was really happy with Race 2 today. I felt really good for 12 or 13 laps and I thought I might be able to challenge Johnny for second with the pace I had, but then I started struggling a bit near the end and had to roll off a little and take advantage of the gap to the group behind. Overall, it's been a great weekend, for me and for Michael. He pushed me really hard in the race yesterday and to come from tenth on the grid to finish fourth in the Superpole race was difficult for him. We've both done a really solid job for the team, but we need to continue working just as hard when we get back to Europe if we're to close the gap to the front two guys."
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P4
"In warm-up this morning I felt good on the bike and when we made some small changes for the Superpole race I felt quite strong. The fourth place in the Superpole race was really important, because it meant I started this afternoon from the second row of the grid. I got a good launch from the start and then worked a bit with Alex, which was good, but already from the first lap I didn't feel so comfortable with the front of the bike, maybe because the temperature was so much higher. I struggled a little, so couldn't stay with Alex and then I made a small mistake and lost a lot of places. From there I had to work my way back to the front of the group, where I was able to maintain a consistent pace to finish fourth once again. I think we can be really proud about this weekend, with Alex's three podiums and my three fourth place finishes. We've made some progress and, hopefully, we can make another step in Aragon."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P6
"It was a very difficult weekend for me, because from the first session we struggled a lot with the stability of the bike. Also I wasn't confident, as I had a lot of trouble to make the bike turn in the very long corner and the bike was moving a lot everywhere. Coming back to Europe I think we need to refresh the mind and start from zero, because I understand what I need, but it will take us some time. What is important is to keep working and making improvements step-by-step."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P7
"I'm happy about the work we've done today. Yesterday the gap to the group in P4, with Marco and Leon Haslam, was ten seconds. Today, until four laps from the end, I was with the group fighting for fourth place. Unfortunately, in the closing stages I had a big near high-side and lost contact with the group. But we made a very big step on the performance; it might be two seventh places on paper but in reality, the two results were completely different. I think our work paid off and for that I have to say thanks to my crew. Now I'm looking forward to the next race in Aragon."
Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Manager
"It has been another positive weekend here for us. After what we saw in Phillip Island, here in Thailand we have confirmed that the Yamaha R1 package is competitive at a different track and in extremely different weather conditions. We can see clearly that we have improved compared to last year and our faster race time today, as well as the fact that we've closed the gap significantly to Kawasaki, confirms that. But this gap is still too big and we need to continue working to reduce it further, that is also clear. Still, we can be satisfied with the job we've done this weekend. We had the four R1 bikes in the top seven in each of the three races here in Thailand, so our racing operation at the track is also working at a very good level. Congratulations to all our riders, but especially to Alex for his three podium finishes; the consistency of his performance over the weekend was impressive indeed. We know what we need to do to improve the competitiveness of our package further and, with a few weeks between now and the next race in Aragon, that will be our main focus."