2018 WorldSBK Thailand - Chang International Circuit
Pata Yamaha Ready for Battle in Buriram
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team are ready to resume the fight in Thailand this weekend for Round 2 of the 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram. Alex Lowes got his season off to a solid start at the opening round of the season at Phillip Island by finishing in sixth and fifth respectively in the first two races of the year and is aiming for his first podium of the season in Thailand. His teammate Michael van der Mark recorded a double top-ten finish in Australia and is confident that he can improve on these results in the heat and humidity of Buriram.
After an incredibly dramatic opening round of the WorldSBK season in Australia - which saw tyre issues in Race 1 lead to a flag-to-flag Race 2 with compulsory pit stops for all riders - the Pata Yamaha team move on to the Chang International Circuit for Round 2, a track that both riders enjoy and have scored podiums at in the past.
Lowes impressed in both races at Phillip Island, finishing sixth in Race 1 after a superb battle with his teammate and then fighting for the podium during the mayhem of the pit-stops in Race 2, before claiming an excellent fifth-place finish. The 27-year-old British rider loves riding the Buriram circuit and finished on the podium in 2015 after securing third. A top-six finish and a DNF marked his debut for Yamaha at the track in 2016 and last season he improved on this feat by battling to sixth in Race 1 and then storming to fourth in Race 2 - at the time his best finish for the Pata Yamaha Team. The 2013 British Superbike Champion is currently fifth in the championship standings with 21 points and his aim for 2018 is simple, to finish on the podium. Lowes is confident he can be a force to be reckoned with in Thailand, although he knows the importance of finding a good setup at the track, which will be his main focus come FP1 on Friday.
Van der Mark had a slightly trickier opening weekend of the season as he suffered from a major tyre issue in Race 1 at Phillip Island while battling for the podium, which forced him to drop through the field and eventually finish in ninth. In Race 2, he once again was involved in the podium fight but was slightly caught out by the enforced pit stop before recovering to cross the line in seventh. The 25-year-old Dutch rider loves the Buriram track, finishing on the podium in 2016 and then riding to a superb fourth-place finish in last year's Race 1 - just his third race with the Pata Yamaha Team - before being forced to retire in the red-flagged Race 2. The 2014 WorldSSP Champion feels that his R1 suits the Buriram track and is confident that he can improve on his performances in Australia and add to his tally of 16 points that currently sees him eighth overall in the championship standings.
The 4.554km Chang international Circuit is located in the Buriram Province in the East of Thailand, about 400km from Bangkok, and is a mix of fast flowing segments, combined with slower technical sections that reward smooth riding. Known for its incredibly passionate fans, this is the fourth consecutive year the track will host a WorldSBK round after opening in 2014 and making its debut on the calendar in 2015.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team hit the track on Friday at 9:45 am local time (GMT +7) for Free Practice 1, with Saturday's Ra
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 5th - 21 points
"Thailand is a race that I really enjoy. The track has quite a simple layout in the first half and is more flowing with some technical sections in the second half of the lap. The most important thing in terms of setup is getting the bike stopped, so this is an area I'll be focusing on in free practice. Overall, round one was solid but I want to be fighting for podiums every weekend, so this is my target for Buriram. I'm ready to go!"
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 8th - 16 points
"I am really looking forward to Round 2 in Thailand. For sure, if you just look at my results, Phillip Island was disappointing but we took a lot of positives from the weekend and I am sure that we will be a lot stronger here in Thailand. I really like riding in Thailand and enjoy the Buriram circuit a lot. We have been working really hard in-between rounds to make sure we can hit the ground running on Friday morning and we will be giving it our all to secure the best possible results this weekend!"