PATA YAMAHA SHOW FIGHTING SPIRIT IN RACE 1 AT PHILLIP ISLAND
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team put in a spirited performance despite suffering from tyre degradation problems in Race 1 at the opening round of the 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship, at an overcast and windy Phillip Island. Michael van der Mark enjoyed a good start and was battling for the podium before he suffered from severe tyre problems in the latter stages of the race, fighting to defend every position before finishing in ninth.
Seventh overall after Friday’s practice, van der Mark used to FP4 to focus on his race pace in the tricky conditions that greeted the riders at Phillip Island on Saturday. He qualified for Race 1 in the middle of the third row after setting a 1:31.240 on his first flying run, which was good enough to secure eighth on the grid. When the lights went out the 25-year-old Dutch rider enjoyed a trademark lightning start but made a small mistake at Turn 4 in the early laps and lost crucial time to the riders at the front.
Fighting back through the pack, he was on a charge and had battled his way up to fifth before he started to suffer from severe rear tyre problems towards the end of the race. Unable to maintain his lap times, he bravely continued to scrap for every position – including the memorable battle with his teammate – before bringing his Pata Yamaha R1 home in ninth to collect six championship points, which means van der Mark will line up for Sunday’s Race 2 on the second row.
Due to the issues suffered by a number of riders during Saturday’s race, Race Direction has announced that if Sunday’s 22-lap Race 2 is declared dry, it will follow the flag-to-flag format, with enforced pit stops and riders not allowed to do more than 12 laps on one rear tyre.
Michael van der Mark: “I had a quite a good start from eighth on the grid but then made a mistake into Turn 4 and lost some time. I fought back through the pack and was feeling really strong, passing people, and I was up to fifth and closing the leading down group when suddenly, after 15 laps, I just had no rear grip anymore. It was a big struggle towards the end. We don’t know why we struggled with the tyre, but it seems as though a number of riders had issues, so it is good they have made the changes for tomorrow’s race and I am confident I have the pace to fight at the front!”