PATA YAMAHA PROGRESS IN TRICKY CONDITIONS ON FRIDAY AT PHILLIP ISLAND
Mixed weather greeted the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team on Friday at the opening round of the 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship. Michael van der Mark impressed during the official test earlier in the week at Phillip Island and kept up this form to finish Friday in seventh on the combined timesheets with a 1:31.114, 0.707s off the quickest rider.
A key change to Friday’s for the 2018 WorldSBK Championship is the inclusion of a third forty-minute practice session, with the top ten riders on the combined timesheets at the end of the day automatically making it through to SP2 on Saturday. This would prove to be vital as the weather played a crucial role on the opening day of the season, with rain in the morning meaning FP1 saw the riders out on wet tyres before conditions improved for a dry FP2, allowing riders to head out on slicks. Rain once more fell at the island before FP3, with a drying track meaning riders had to push to the absolute limit to try and improve their times.
Van der Mark showed great pace during the official test earlier in the week and was determined to get his 2018 campaign off to the best start possible. Despite the wet conditions in FP1, he immediately settled into a good rhythm on his Pata Yamaha R1, ending the session in ninth after setting a 1:41.939 and gaining some valuable wet track time, which could be essential with a mixed forecast for the rest of the race weekend. The 25-year-old Dutch rider then improved to a 1:31.114 in a dry FP2, before using FP3 to focus on his setup and race pace. While van der Mark did not improve during the final session of the day he managed to display excellent consistency once again and his time from FP2 meant he ended the day seventh overall on the timesheets, 0.707s off the top, which was good enough to cement his place in Superpole 2.
Michael van der Mark: “We had a pretty good first day overall! The first session was a bit cold and the conditions were mixed, but we did okay. In the second session, we had a dry track and I went out and was fast from the start, just like in the test, so I was really happy. I wanted to improve the turning with the bike, so in FP3 we tried a few things but they didn’t really improve the feeling, so we went back. The grip wasn’t really there in FP3 like we expected, because of the rain between sessions, so we struggled a bit but at the end of the day our pace was quite good and consistent, so I am happy and I can’t wait to get racing!”