Pata Yamaha Sign Off the European Season with a Double Podium in Magny-Cours
The Pata Yamaha team signed off their Magny-Cours weekend in style with a double podium in WorldSBK Race 2 this afternoon. Michael van der Mark finished second, having disputed the lead with eventual winner Jonathan Rea for the entire race, while Alex Lowes recovered strongly from time lost avoiding a second lap crash to finish third. This stellar team performance followed another podium appearance by van der Mark, who finished third in the Superpole sprint race this morning. The two Pata Yamaha riders were joined in Parc Ferme by Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider, Loris Baz, who finished as top independent rider in fifth position.
Van der Mark, who was left frustrated after crashing out of the lead in WorldSBK Race 1 yesterday, bounced back strongly in this morning's Superpole sprint race, which he led in the opening stages, but finished in third place after a close battle with his fellow podium finishers, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Rea.
The 26-year-old Dutchman rider got an equally good start from the front row of the grid in Race 2 and, together with Rea, pulled away from the rest of the field when Razgatlioglu crashed out of third place and the pursuing pack lost time taking evasive action. It looked like it was going to be a race long, two-way battle for the win, as van der Mark and Rea took turns to lead but Lowes, who'd been caught behind the second lap crash, was on a lone charge and closing fast.
The 29-year-old Briton eventually caught the leading duo at half race distance, but having used his tyres to close the gap, wasn't able to then mount a challenge for the win. The Kawasaki rider made his move with nine laps remaining, passing the Yamaha for the lead and then pushing to the limit to gain an advantage of half a second. Van der Mark, who was also on the limit, could only maintain and not close the gap and he took the chequered flag in second place, with teammate Lowes following him across the line in third to conclude a successful day for the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK team.
Van der Mark's two podium finishes today promoted him back to fourth place in the championship standings and to within five points of his teammate Lowes in third, which was how the two Pata Yamaha riders started the Magny-Cours weekend.
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider, Marco Melandri, declared himself satisfied with his performance in this afternoon's WorldSBK Race 2, in which he fought his way through from 12th position on the grid to eventually get the better of an intense battle with Leon Haslam and podium finisher in yesterday's Race 1, Tom Sykes, to finish sixth.
Sandro Cortese endured a disappointing end to what had been a difficult debut weekend at Magny-Cours aboard the GRT Yamaha YZF-R1. The reigning Supersport World Champion was 11th in the Superpole sprint race this morning, but confident of a much stronger performance in WorldSBK Race 2 this afternoon. Unfortunately, Cortese encountered a technical problem in the opening stages of the race, which eventually forced his retirement.
Ten Kate Yamaha's Loris Baz continues to improve as he gains familiarity with the Ten Kate Yamaha YZF-R1 that he raced for the first time in Jerez in June. The Frenchman again reduced the gap to the winner in all three races this weekend, with his best result coming in WorldSBK Race 2, where he finished as the top independent rider in fifth position.
The Magny-Cours weekend brings to a close the European season and the Yamaha WorldSBK teams will now head overseas for the final two races of 2019 in Argentina and Qatar.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK - P3 and P2 - Championship P4 - 274 Points
"I was happy to be back on the podium this morning after the costly mistake yesterday, but I was struggling a little bit with the bike over the 10 laps. We made some changes for the second race, which brought some improvements. I got another quick start and my pace was good, as was the battle with Johnny, where we were both pretty much on the limit. I was pushing so hard to stay in front of him but, at the end, he was just a little bit stronger. I'm really happy with the double podium today, especially after yesterday, and it was great to be up there on the podium with Alex again this afternoon. A big thanks to the team who did a great job in a weekend made difficult by the weather."
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK - P6 and P3 - Championship P3 - 279 Points
"I didn't get the best of starts this afternoon, and then I was behind the crash involving Toprak and Alvaro, which left me with a big gap to close to Michael and Johnny. I think I was a couple of seconds behind, but my pace was really good, and I'd managed to catch the pair of them by midrace distance. To get to them I'd worked the front tyre really hard and, with around five laps to go, I was struggling a bit and wasn't able to join the fight. The lack of dry track time this weekend means I've not really found the right set up and I've struggled a little, so it's good to be leaving with three solid results and sharing the podium with Michael today was good for us, good for the team and a great way to end the weekend here in France."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK - P12 and P6 - Championship P9 - 171 Points
"Sixth in Race 2 today wasn't such a bad way to end what has been a difficult weekend. Starting from the fifth row after the Superpole race meant it wasn't an easy race and I lost a lot of time at the beginning when Toprak and Alvaro crashed, which allowed Leon Camier to pass me again. But in the end the rhythm wasn't too bad, so I can be happy, especially as I won my little battle with Leon Haslam and Tom Sykes. Now we head to Argentina, where I hope we can improve further."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK - P11 and DNF - Championship P10 - 122 Points
"I felt really strong in Race 2 this afternoon, and I would have been able to fight with the likes of Leon Haslam, Tom Sykes and Marco, which is why it's such a shame I had a problem with the bike. I could feel there was something not quite right with the gear shift from the opening laps but the problem only got worse, to the point where I couldn't shift gear anymore. Obviously, I'm disappointed, it's a day to forget, but now I'm looking forward to Argentina and to finishing the season with some good results."
Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK - P7 and P5 - Championship P12 - 114 Points
"Every race we close the gap to the race winner, and the same was true this afternoon. I'm much happier than I was yesterday, because yesterday I was not so happy with the bike and how I rode the last laps, but today was much better. This morning was also strong, but we had a technical issue after five laps and I just had to ride the bike to the end, although I still managed to beat Leon and Tom. This afternoon I lost again time at the beginning with Michael Rinaldi and Leon, but once past them I was as quick as the top guys over the remaining 15 or so laps. I'm happy; we didn't quite make the podium, but we need to remember where we've come from and that we're now up there and fighting with the factory bikes. We're doing our job and I'm sure we'll be up there challenging for the podium really soon."
Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Manager
"For Yamaha today has been a successful end to what has been a weekend made particularly difficult by the weather. Race 2 today saw the two Pata Yamaha riders on the podium together, with Loris Baz finishing as the top independent rider and Marco Melandri making it four Yamahas in the top six. That is a very positive result and one that shows that our ongoing development program continues to be effective. It's a shame that Sandro had a technical problem in this afternoon's race, as he also had the potential to fight for a top six finish today. So, a positive end to the final European race weekend of the 2019 season and for that I'd like to thank the riders, the teams and our Yamaha technical staff, all of whom have had to overcome significant challenges due to the weather and the track conditions, both of which proved unpredictable this weekend."