NOTHING TO SEPARATE LOWES &VAN DER MARK ON FRIDAY IN ARAGON
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team got off to a positive start on Friday in Aragon at Round 3 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship despite mixed weather conditions. Alex Lowes ended the day in sixth overall on the combined timesheets after making the most of the dry track time available in FP3 before the rain returned to set a 1:51.347, 0.695s off the fastest rider. Incredibly, this was exactly the same time as his teammate Michael van der Mark’s fastest lap set in FP2, with both riders making it through to Saturday’s SP2.
It was mission accomplished for the Pata Yamaha team on Friday at Motorland Aragon, as Early rain meant that FP1 was held on a wet track and then the showers returned 10 minutes into FP3, with FP2 the only fully dry session. After the stifling heat and humidity in Thailand at the last round, the changeable conditions that greeted the team in Spain were quite a change. The rain showers made it hard for everyone to find a good setup and meant that the first priority for the team was to ensure both riders made it through to Superpole 2 on Saturday, a target that was successfully achieved.
Van der Mark was another looking to carry his stunning podium momentum from the previous round to Aragon after he stormed to second in Race 2 in Thailand. The 25-year-old Dutch rider was quick straight away in the wet conditions of FP1, battling in the top three for most of the session before ending it in fifth place with a 2:03.427. The dry conditions that greeted everyone for FP2 also saw him hit the ground running, setting a 1:51.347 – his fastest time of the day – and impressing once again. While trying to work on the perfect setup for Saturday’s qualifying and race, he only managed five laps in FP3 before the rain came, with his time from FP2 seeing him end the day in seventh due to his second fastest lap time being slower than his teammate Lowes. The 2014 WorldSSP Champion knows there is work to do still but is confident of being able to fight at the front on Saturday.
Michael van der Mark: “I am really happy as this morning the track was wet and straight from the start we were fast. We improved lap by lap and it was good to do a wet session with the bike and get the feeling with our setup. FP2 was completely dry and, once again, I felt really good from the start. Then I had a point where I struggled a bit but at the end, we put some fresh tyres on and I improved a lot, although I was still struggling a bit to get the bike stopped. We tried to improve the feeling in this area in FP3, but we only managed a few laps and I didn’t feel any better, so, we have a lot of work to do and it will be hard to be completely ready for tomorrow as we only have a short session in the morning. If you looked how we managed to start every session today and be quick right from the word go, I think we can be quite happy!”
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team return to action at Motorland Aragon at 8:45 am local time (CEST) on Saturday morning for FP4, with SP2 scheduled for 10:55 am and the 18-lap Race 1 due to start at 1 pm.-runners both in qualifying and the race tomorrow.