Confidence High as Yamaha Riders Head to Jerez
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK riders, Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes, head into Round 6 of the FIM Superbike World Championship in Jerez this weekend with their sights set firmly on the podium, following a positive two-day test in Misano last week. Sandro Cortese and Marco Melandri also head into the Jerez weekend with some confidence following the Misano test, which provided the two GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK riders with an opportunity to further refine the set-up of their R1 machines after a difficult weekend last time out in Imola. Jerez will also see a fifth Yamaha R1 on the grid for the first time, as the Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK team make a welcome return to the championship with Frenchman, Loris Baz.
The Misano test was an important one for all five Yamaha riders but the weather refused to cooperate, with all but a few hours of the two-day test affected by rain. Despite the limited dry track time both the Pata Yamaha and GRT Yamaha riders managed to complete most of their planned test programs, with positive results. For Baz the Misano test was the first opportunity he’s had to familiarise himself with the Ten Kate Yamaha R1 that he’ll race for the first time this weekend in Jerez.
After narrowly missing out on the podium in Imola, where he finished fourth in both races, van der Mark is confident that he has the pace to challenge for the top three this weekend in Jerez. With three podium finishes to his name already this season, the Pata Yamaha rider currently lies fourth in the championship standings with 134 points, just six points behind his teammate, Lowes.
Lowes showed incredible resilience in Imola, where he had to contend with a debilitating stomach bug all weekend. Despite being far from fit, the 28-year-old Briton rode to two impressive points scoring finishes, with seventh place in Race 1 and a hard fought fifth place in Sunday morning’s Superpole Race. Lowes is now back to full fitness and is keen to add to his tally of four podiums in Jerez, as he looks to consolidate his third place in the championship standings.
Imola proved a difficult weekend for the GRT Yamaha pairing of Cortese and Melandri, with crashes and set-up issues limiting the competitiveness of both riders. Jerez is a track that Cortese and Melandri know well and both head into round six of the FIM Superbike World Championship this weekend with renewed confidence, after a productive test in Misano, despite the inclement weather.
For Baz and the Ten Kate Yamaha team the Jerez weekend will be an opportunity to continue the familiarization process with the Yamaha YZF-R1 that they will campaign for the remainder of the season. The Frenchman, who last turned a wheel in anger at the final round of the 2018 season in Qatar, is under no illusions about the weekend ahead, but is very much looking forward to making his return to racing after his enforced seven month layoff.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK
"Fortunately, we got a window of good weather on the second day of the Misano test and we managed to work our way through a lot of the test program, with the boys working hard to test as much as we could. Going back to Jerez is always nice, as we do a lot of testing there in the winter. This year there is a new surface again, so it will be interesting to see how the bike will feel compared to the tests. I feel really good with the bike at the moment and the base set-up has worked well at the last few tracks, so I think we can be really strong this weekend in Jerez. The podium is the target; we were close in Imola, but not quite close enough."
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK
"We got a lot done with the limited amount of dry track time we had on the afternoon of the second day in Misano. We managed to complete most of our test plan but, obviously, we didn't get the chance to do any long runs. We made some steps forward with the bike and I'm happy with how the test went. Jerez is a track I really enjoy and one where we do a lot of laps in the winter, although the temperature will be a lot higher for the race weekend. In the past it's also been a track that suits our Yamaha R1 and, with the steps we've made this year with the bike, I'm heading to Spain confident we can be in the fight for the podium in all three races this weekend."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK
"I'm quite happy with what we achieved with the limited amount of dry track time we had at the Misano test. We managed to test a lot of things that we don't have the time to try during a race weekend and it was a good opportunity to rebuild my confidence after a difficult weekend in Imola. I'm really looking forward to going back to Jerez, a track where every rider has done a lot of laps in testing, but one I like a lot. I'm looking forward to getting back to work this weekend in Jerez, where I'm confident we can put the disappointment of Imola behind us and be competitive once again."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK
"We found a good base early on the second day of the Misano test, but then we tried different settings to understand better how these impact on the feeling with the bike. It's something we just don't have time to do during a race weekend and, while we didn't finish as good as we would like, we did get a lot of information that will allow us to start with a better base this weekend in Jerez. The key to Jerez is race pace; it will be hot and many riders will be fast for just a few laps, but maintaining this pace across race distance will be critical, so that's where we need to focus our efforts this weekend."
Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK
"While conditions at the Misano test weren't ideal for me or the team, given that this was our first outing with the Yamaha R1, we were certainly all happy to be back! We managed to work thought a lot at the test, although it would have been nice to get a third day with full dry conditions. But I was happy with the test; I managed to improve my lap time with every exit, which was cool, but I still need to work out how to get the best from the bike on a new tyre. Now we head into our first race weekend in Jerez, a track I know very well indeed, which is an advantage. It will be fun to race again and I'm really happy that we now have three races each weekend, because this provides us with more opportunity to learn the bike and the tyres. Friday will be about finding a base set-up on the bike and me finding my pace after such a long break from racing, but our goal is to try and reduce the gap to the front with each session. I'm looking forward to it!"