MAGIC MICHAEL TAKES MAIDEN YAMAHA PODIUM IN RACE 2 AT PORTIMAO
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team’s Michael van der Mark stormed to his first podium for Yamaha in sensational fashion at Portimao on Sunday, round ten of the 2017 Superbike World Championship. The Dutch rider started on the front row and put in a super performance to bring his Yamaha R1 home in second place, moving up to sixth in the championship standings in the process.
All eyes were on van der Mark after his call-up to fill in for the injured Valentino Rossi in the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team at the Aragon GP next weekend and he put on a superb display of riding in Sunday’s Race 2 to secure his best result yet for the Pata Yamaha team. Starting from the middle of the front row, the 24-year-old did not quite have the grip levels to push to the maximum during the first few laps and dropped down to fifth, but then settled into a good rhythm and started to close the gap to the riders in front.
On lap 4 he passed Leon Camier to move into fourth and set his sights next on Eugene Laverty in third. Showing incredible consistency in his lap times while others started to struggle, the former World Supersport Champion hunted down Laverty by lap 11, making his move and immediately opening up a gap. As the race continued to progress he was matching the pace of Chaz Davies ahead of him before, with 3 laps remaining, Davies crashed out and van der Mark was promoted to second.
Continuing to ride hard right until the end after having been denied a previous podium in Misano in the dying stages of a race through no fault of his own, he crossed the line in second place to the delight of his team and fans to collect 20 championship points. This saw him move up to sixth in the championship standings with 166 points, just three points behind his teammate Lowes.
Michael van der Mark: “It’s amazing to finish on the podium after so much bad luck this year! We have struggled sometimes with the setup of the bike and have been close to the podium a couple of times only to miss out. It wasn’t really easy, but I knew I had quite a good pace and starting from P2 helped me a lot. At the start of the race I was lacking a bit of grip, so I couldn’t follow the front guys for the first couple of laps, but then I found my pace. It was a really difficult race but I was stronger than the guys behind me. I got a bit lucky that Chaz Davies crashed out but I am so happy to have got my first podium with Yamaha. We have worked so hard all year and I am so glad to finally reward my team and Yamaha with a podium. When you finally take a podium, you get the self-belief because you know you can do it. Everything came together today and it is always good to be standing on the podium and now I want to enjoy this feeling at every race. We found a really good base setup that seems to work everywhere, so we will start with the same bike in Magny Cours after tomorrow’s test, where we only need to adjust some small things with the bike and I am looking forward to the next race!”