PATA YAMAHA IMPRESS IN TRICKY CONDITIONS AT DONINGTON ON FRIDAY
It was a promising start for Michael van der Mark and the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team at a wet and windy Donington Park on Friday for Round 6 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship. Michael van der Mark, who improved throughout the day despite the mixed weather to finish in sixth on the combined timesheets after setting a 1:28.768.
Tricky conditions greeted the Pata Yamaha team on Friday in the UK, with torrential rain and strong winds in the morning meaning FP1 and FP2 were both fully wet sessions. Luckily, the rain disappeared in the afternoon – although track temperatures did not rise above 17°C – and with the strong winds, the track started to dry for FP3 allowing the riders to head out on slick tyres. Donington Park is the team’s home round and this weekend sees all three riders sporting a special one-off blue Rizla livery on their Pata Yamaha R1s.
Michael van der Mark was still recovering from a virus as the day started and with the torrential rain in FP1, the 25-year-old Dutch rider decided not to take any risks and sit out the session to allow him to recover. When FP2 rolled around, his condition had improved and he gradually built his pace up to a 1:40.872 to end the session in 15th place. Heading out on slicks for FP3, the 2014 WorldSSP Champion got to work and improved dramatically in the dryer conditions – despite a small crash at Turn 3 – to set a 1:28.768 and finish the day in sixth overall, 0.765s off the top. Van der Mark is confident that he can make another step on Saturday with his pace and consistency to allow him to battle for the podium during Saturday’s Race 1.
Michael van der Mark: “It was difficult conditions at Donington today, really tricky! I decided not to risk it in FP1, as I was recovering from a bug and the track was really wet. In the third session, we finally got some dry laps in, which was important as it looks like the race could be in the dry tomorrow. It was good to go out, I felt good from the start and was improving lap by lap. We changed some small things on the bike and I had a little crash but the guys fixed the bike really quickly and I went out and improved my lap time. I am really happy with the work done by the team, we still have a little bit more to do to improve our pace and consistency but I am happy with the first day!”
Sadly, the forecast for Saturday is also looking mixed, with Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team returning to action at 9:00 am local time (GMT+1) for FP4, with qualifying starting at 10:45 am and the 23-lap Race 1 due to kick off at 1:15 pm. Check out the combined Friday free practice times.