TACTICAL APPROACH IN AUSTRALIA PAYS DIVIDENDS FOR VAN DER MARK
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider Michael van der Mark overcame difficult conditions in today’s WorldSBK Race at Phillip Island to add to his championship points haul with a fourth place. Van der Mark rode a tactical race to conserve his tyres; a strategy that allowed him to close on and then pass fellow Yamaha rider, Marco Melandri, on the final lap.
Van der Mark, starting from fifth position on the grid as a result of his finishing position in today’s inaugural Superpole sprint race, was immediately involved in the battle for second place with Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam, but backed off to conserve his tyres when he felt the rear start to slide just before mid-race distance. This allowed Melandri to pass him for fourth but, rather than stressing his tyre further by giving chase immediately, the Pata Yamaha rider maintained a steady pace, saving his tyre for a final push in the closing stages.
The strategy worked perfectly, with Van der Mark able to close onto the back of Melandri as they started the final lap and then put in a pass up the inside at turn two to take fourth, a position he then held to the line. The result means that Van der Mark leaves Australia fifth in the championship standings with 29 points.
Michael van der Mark – Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P4: “I got a really good start and my pace was fast, but I was a little worried about using the tyre too quickly. I didn’t want to slow down, as I wanted to stay with the two Kawasaki’s, but when Marco came past me I felt like I was having to push the tyre just a little bit too much to stay with him. I just decided to do my own rhythm, which was not as quick as I’d have liked, but I knew it was the only way to ride the race. Towards the end the Kawasaki’s were slowing and so was Marco, which allowed me to catch and pass him on the last lap. I’m happy enough with fourth place after struggling all weekend with the durability of the tyres. We had some problems but we still picked up a lot of points here in Phillip Island.”