Van der Mark and Lowes Raring to go as WorldSBK Returns to Action in Portugal
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team heads to Portugal keen to continue where they left off ahead of the long summer break, as racing finally resumes this weekend with Round 10 of the 2018 MOTUL FIM World Superbike Championship at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão. Michael van der Mark heads into the weekend determined to repeat the success of Misano, where he signed off the first half of the season with a superb second place. Alex Lowes also has the podium firmly in his sights this weekend in Portimão, where he is confident of rediscovering the form that saw him secure his first WorldSBK race win in Brno earlier in the season.
Both Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team riders enjoyed a successful two-day test at the 4.6km Portimão circuit back in August, with van der Mark finishing third on combined times and teammate Lowes ending the test one place higher in second.
The test, which saw the two riders complete more than 250 laps between them over the course of the two days, provided van der Mark and Lowes with an ideal opportunity to refine the set up of their Yamaha YZF-R1 machines in similar conditions to those they'll experience when they return to race at the circuit this weekend.
Portimão will be an important weekend in terms of the championship for van der Mark. The 25-year-old rider currently lies third in the standings with 248 points, just 30 points adrift of second placed Chaz Davies. Two good race results in Portugal, a track at which van der Mark finished on the podium 12 months ago, could see the Dutchman significantly close the gap to Davies
Lowes is also looking to get the second half of the season off to a flying start in Portimão. The 27-year-old British rider is currently fifth in the championship standings, equal on points with Marco Melandri, but two strong results this weekend could see him close on fourth placed Tom Sykes, who currently has a 25 point advantage over Lowes.
Construction of the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve was completed in 2008 and the venue hosted its first WorldSBK round the same year. A high-speed rollercoaster of a track, the 4.6km circuit features a challenging layout that combines fast, sweeping turns with more technical corners and huge changes in elevation, making it demanding of both riders and machines.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team kick off the action on Friday with FP1 at 09.45 local time, with qualifying on Saturday starting at 10.30. Lights out for Race 1 on Saturday will be at 13.00, whereas Race 2 on Sunday gets underway at the later time of 15.15.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 3rd - 248 Points
"It will be good to get back on the bike and go racing again, as it has been such a long break this year. The goal in Portugal is to start where we left off in Misano, where I finished on the podium after battling with Jonathan Rea for the win. We will start the weekend from a good position, having completed a successful two-day test here back in August. The set up refinements we made during the test should work well, as the conditions for the race this weekend look to be very similar to those we experienced during the test. I'm looking forward to the weekend ahead and I hope we can start the second half of the season as strongly as we finished the first half."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 5th - 193 Points
"I'm really looking forward to the weekend ahead in Portimão, especially as the summer break seems to have gone on forever this year. We had a good two-day test at the track a few weeks ago. We had good weather, similar to what we can expect this weekend, and we managed to try a lot of different things on the bike, as well as working to find a good set up for the race. We managed to get through a pretty extensive test schedule and I'm confident that, if we can put everything we learnt together this weekend, we'll have a pretty strong bike. There are now just four rounds remaining this season and my goal is to try and fight for the podium every weekend, starting this weekend in Portugal."